referral recommendation ict4d job

How Do I Ask for a Referral for a Digital Development Job?

What questions do you have about digital development careers? Click here to ask your question! We’ll answer it in the next newsletter.

Q8: How Do I Ask for a Referral?

I identified an interesting job at the same company where a friend of mine works. How can I get them to vouch for me so I can get the crucial first round interview?

HR is Overloaded with Applications

High quality job opportunities get dozens, if not hundreds of applications. As we’ve discussed previously, its hard to get past Human Resources screenings. They are looking for a very specific person, based on the criteria they are given by the hiring team, and you need to be that unicorn to get the job.

Referrals are Crucial to Get Interviews

The best ways to get past HR and secure the crucial first round interview is to be the internal candidate. Second best, is to have someone on the hiring team (or adjacent team) put in a good word for you. Their recommendation will pluck your resume out of the sea of applicants and usually get you an initial interview.

How to Ask for a Referral

Referrals are tricky, as the person referring you is putting their reputation on the line for you, so you may want to build your case with them, so they’ll be comfortable making the recommendation.

Tell them about your career aspirations. Show them how this role fits into your dreams and that you’ll succeed in the role. Make sure that they are happy to refer you, and be confident that you’ll be awesome in the role.

How to Accept a Rejection

Also, respect their response, even if they say no. They will have insights on what the hiring team wants, and it may not be you. Don’t take this personally, they just saved you from wasted effort if you’re not the right fit.

Good luck!
Wayan

phd college degree ict4d

What is the Value of a PhD Advanced Degree in ICT4D?

What questions do you have about digital development careers? Click here to ask your question! We’ll answer it in the next newsletter.

Q8: What is the value of a PhD in ICT4D?

I have a bachelor’s, master’s, and ~10 years experience in digital marketing in health and education, all outside of development. I’m considering a Ph.D. in Information Systems to do research on topics related to ICT4D, but will it pay off in a digital development job?

Education Needs to be Paired with Experience

You may be surprised by the number of people who think that a degree in international development or technology-related field will magically open the door to a rewarding ICT4D career. Sadly, that rarely works.

You have to understand that your competition is someone who has:

  • 3-4 years experience in development jobs,
  • 2 years in the Peace Corps living in developing countries,
  • A masters degree in technology or development.

Key for an employer is the the full mix of employment, exposure, and education. We want to know you’re familiar with development’s issues, the realities of developing countries, and a solid education.

Get Experience Before a PhD

Before spending years and thousands of dollars on a PhD, which in your case will just make you even more expensive with less relevant experience, I would strongly suggest you get experience in the digital development ecosystem.

You should be able to leverage your digital marketing experience to work on social and behavior change communication (SBCC), where we try to engage and motivate people to adopt healthier habits. For example, practicing safer sex, or quitting smoking, or the like.

You can do this with many population groups (Americans need this as much as Angolans) though its best to start thinking about areas of the world you want to work in and focusing on those communities from the start.

Consider a Volunteer Consulting Engagement

Sine you already have a career that showcases your ability, you may want to consider a volunteer consulting engagement to get experience. This is just like a real consulting agreement – you should have objectives, deliverables, and timelines – only you are trading your time for experience versus cash payment.

The international development field is already very familiar with the concept – see Peace Corps – only this way you don’t need to move overseas for two years. However, you will need to work hard, probably harder than you are now, to learn as you perform.

The upside? You’ll be the internal candidate at the next opening.

Good luck!
Wayan

ict4d human resources screening

Why Didn’t I Get Past the Initial HR Screening for an ICT4D Job?

What questions do you have about digital development careers? Click here to ask your question! We’ll answer it in the next newsletter.

Q9: Why Didn’t I Get Past HR Screening?

I applied for a job that I was a good fit for, but I learned that I didn’t even get past the initial HR screening. They said I was unqualified for the role, though I know I could do it if given the chance. Why did this happen? How can I get past HR?

You Must Pass HR’s Minimum Requirements

When a team sends a job description to Human Resources for them to recruit for the position, HR coverts the job requirements into a list of attributes for potential applicants.

Some of these can be pass/fail – for example, a Master’s Degree, while others can be a spectrum that is assigned points, like number of years experience.

If you do not meet the minimum requirements, your application will be deemed non-responsive. If you meet the minimum requirements, your application will be scored by points, with the top ones going to the team for review and interviews.

There is a Way Around HR Screening

Sometimes, you may have the skills for the job that don’t show up on your CV, especially if you’re making a career shift into ICT4D. Here is where you need to know the secret of how to get around the HR screening process, and get that crucial first interview. Know someone on the hiring team.

As we’ve discussed before, you always want to be the internal candidate. You wan the hiring team to know you, or at least know of you either directly, or through one of their friends. Ten the hiring team can request your application be included in the interview group.

Now you still need to shine in the interview, and if the team chooses you, they’ll need a strong justification for you, so use this path wisely and only for the roles you really, really want and are competent you can excel in.

The hiring team will be using their valuable political capital to get on board. If you flake or leave early, you’ll have burned a few bridges that may never be repaired.

Not Getting Past HR Can be Good

Not every person is right for every role, and if there is a core requirement that you don’t have, don’t get mad at HR. There could be a very good reason for that requirement – a foreign language is usually one you can’t learn on the job.

Take your rejection as a learning opportunity and try to honestly assess why you were not considered and what you might want to change about your job search, or yourself, that can help you win the next job application contest.

Good luck!
Wayan

ICT4D Job Departure

How to Leave Your Digital Development Jobs Gracefully

While I usually talk about how to get a new job, I would be remiss not to stress that how you leave a job also has great bearing on your future employment prospects.

ICT4D is a small industry and word gets around fast if you’re an ass, so one of the best employment insurance policies is to leave your employers gracefully. But what does “gracefully” really mean?

Give Plenty of Notice

Departures happen, and there is no reason to feel bad about leaving a job for a better opportunity. However, the first step in leaving gracefully is to give your current employer plenty of notice.

Yes, two weeks is the minimum, but why be that person? I personally like to give a month’s notice, at least, so there is plenty of time for the team to recruit someone new and have me train them before I depart. This isn’t always practical, but it should be your aim.

Leave on Good Terms

I cannot stress enough how important it is to leave on good terms with your colleagues. These are the people that will be your future employment references and generally, your social capital across digital development.

So go make amends to those you’ve disrespected. Bury your perceived slights, and recognize the good things that happened. Especially when you felt grievously wronged.

Always Speaking Kindly

Finally, do your best to always speak kindly of your past employers. They are only human after all, and like you, have their faults, biases, and issues.

Be especially respectful of your past team around your new team. They are keenly aware that one day, they’ll be your past peers and they don’t want a preview of what you’ll say about them.

Good luck!
Wayan

write thank you note

A Handy Trick to Stand Out in the Crowded ICT4D Job Market

As a subscriber to the ICT4DJobs email list, you are a technologist in some way. You believe in the role of ICT to improve development and more importantly, the lives of people in developing countries.

Now I want to tell you about a very non-techie way to stand out in the job search. It’s probably one of the oldest tricks, and still stunningly powerful, yet its also one of the most forgotten.

Send a Thank You Letter

And I don’t mean an email. I mean an old-school, handwritten note on nice card stock, that’s put in an envelope, with a stamp, and sent to who you interviewed with. Either an informational interview or an actual job interview.

Why is this a trick? Because handwritten notes are so rare, you will certainly stand out from the crowd. I learned this lesson back in my first ICT4D job when years after I was hired, I was talking with my boss about hiring staff.

He told me that my thank you note is what got me my job there.

Then he reached into his desk and pulled out the very note I’d written years before. He said it was the only one he’d ever received, and so he kept it to remind himself who to look for when hiring staff.

From that day forth, I’ve sent handwritten thank you notes, and twice, I received them. I distinctly remember the two people who sent them – they’re top of mind when I think about who my friends should hire.

So simple, so effective, and yet so rare. Maybe you can start a trend?