Is a Post-ICT4D World is Coming?

I’m finding great unease in recent conversations with leading technology for development practitioners in Washington, DC and elsewhere. They are all nervous about where the international development industry is headed, if ICT4D has a long-term future within it, and what they should do next.

What to Worry About?

There were three general themes that I found people worrying about when it came to their ICT4D career as part of the international development community:

  • Reduced Government Funding: US, UK, and other governments are reducing funding, which is dropping overall funding rates.
  • Shift to In-Country Expertise: more and more work is moving to host country nationals – as it should.
  • Competing Private Sector Solutions: the private sector has finally realized there is money to be made in developing countries.

What Will You Do About It?

If we are entering a musical chairs of shrinking jobs for international ICT4D practitioners (which I think is debatable), then what should a digital development practitioner do about it?

First, and foremost, if you are a competent host country national with quality technology skills, try to get a third-country national position now, while they still exist. This is your fastest route to greater pay and promotions in any country.

Then enjoy the ride as you are head-hunted from one job to the next for another 20 years across multiple developing countries. I think your career will be long and prosperous.

5 Options for International ICT4D Experts

For the international ICT4D expert, I have five options for you to consider if you’re worried about the future of international development writ large, and our sub-sector specifically.

Yes, this is where you have to click over to the ICTworks post Is a Post-ICT4D World is Coming? What Will You Do About It? for more details. Oh, and you should probably subscribe to ICTworks, if you haven’t already.

Good luck!

Today Starts 2019 Job Hunt!

I know, you’re thinking this is Thanksgiving week in the USA and the start of the holiday season that slows down the job hunt. Some people even think it’s time to take a holiday from searching for a new job.

Do Not Be Fooled!

Today is the very start of the 2019 job hunt. Why? Because Jan 1 is the start of the new fiscal year for many organizations. That’s when budgets are live and teams start to post job ads for new staff.

You do not want to wait till Jan 1, and then blindly send in CVs. You’ll be dumped into the waves of responses sent to HR and get lost in the crowd.

Get Ahead Now

Start your job search today if you want a new job in 2019. Start researching the companies you want to work for, the roles you want to fill, and the colleagues you want to have.

Then ramp up your informational interviews. You should be meeting with at least 2-3 new people a week to build your network. You want someone you’ve met with to have you in mind when they are helping write the job description of your dream job.

Be Ready for Jan 1

That way, when the wave of job ads appears in early January, you’re not scrambling. You already know the ad is coming out, you’ve already talked with the hiring team, and you’re already ahead of everyone who took the holidays off.

Good luck!

Please Practice the Interview

Interviews are hard. Like a first date, you don’t always know what to expect, and often you don’t know who is going to be in the room or what mood they will be in.

Yet the interview is what makes or breaks your chance at a new job. It is the most high-risk moment in your job search.

Do not leave it to chance

Before the interview, research who you think you will be talking with. Look them up on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google – wherever you can find them to better learn about their interests and background.

Make a list of questions they might ask you – and be creative. Expect them to ask about your history, but what about skills or issues in your field? Or industry bodies and initiatives? Or even recent organizational accomplishments?

Then practice interview questions with your friends. Best to do it with friends who are strong enough to tell you when you’re messing up, but kind enough to give you support and guidance so you’ll improve.

Practice in-person and remote interviews

You may be interviewing in person, but these days interviews over the phone or video call are becoming more common.

Learn how to roll with questions when you only have a disembodied voice coming over the line, as much as when you’re in the room.

Also, figure out which type of interview you prefer – in-person, voice, video – and push for that option. Key to success is feeling comfortable from the start.

Now practice your interview again

Seriously, please practice your interview multiple times until you’ve memorized certain responses and your friends can’t fluster you with odd questions.

Interviews are the key to getting from a CV to an offer letter. Don’t leave them to chance – practice, practice, practice.


Hiring You is High Risk

Imagine if you had to choose a spouse the way we hire staff. You put an ad online that says who you are and what you want, but without photos or talking about age, gender, race, or other protected categories.

You have 3-4 interviews with them, none of which are anything like actually living with them, and then after calling around to a few of their ex’s, you have to get married to one of the candidates. 

Would you be happy with that process? Probably not.

Yet that’s the way we hire people today, and depending on the job, you may actually spend more awake time each workday with your co-workers than your spouse.

How to Make Hiring Better

With such a convoluted hiring process, mistakes happen, and they happen often. Hence unhappy workplaces, job hopping, and the popularity of The Office.

So what can we do about it?

First, do your homework. Know what and who you really want to work with, and invest time and effort into meeting with many people at many organizations to find the fit that would make you happy when you change jobs.

Hence my constant push for informational interviews.

At the same time, you should be meeting with others to make sure that when an opening happens on your team that you know who you want to encourage to apply. No job announcement should be published without a preferred candidate in mind.

Now the preferred candidate may not win the job, but at least you’ll have a solid benchmark that will help you know when you’ve found the right candidate.  
Good Luck to All

Regardless if you’re reading this looking for a job or staff, know that everyone feels your pain.

The modern way we hire is hard, high risk, and prone to failure. Do you best to find the right fit, and if it doesn’t work out, be honest with everyone and seek a better outcome.

Thankfully, we can all move on to new jobs, or even get divorced – I’ve done both! And it’s not a disgrace. It’s life.


First Resume Still Rocks 536 Years Later

In 1482, when he was 30 year old, Leonardo da Vinci needed a job, so he created what is generally believed to be the first resume to win the favor of Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan. Typical of da Vinci, its a stunning work that stands the test of time.

Three Reasons da Vinci Got Hired

Leonardo didn’t send a generic letter, he created a specific document for the Duke that was personalized in every way. This showed that Leanardo wasn’t looking for just any patron – he wanted to work for the Duke.

Employer Focused
Leonardo didn’t talk about his past accomplishments, he focused on what he could do to help the Duke and the city of Milan. This shows he cared about the city more than himself.

Leonardo talked about how he could design bridges, build boats, sculpt and paint, or even build machines that take water out of trenches. This showed he had many skills and could learn quickly.

Will Your Resume Stand the Test of Time?

None of us are Leonardo da Vinci, yet we can all learn from his resume tricks. His approach is applicable to resumes, and even informational interview requests. Think about your reader and ask these three questions:

  • What do they want and need?
  • What are their drivers?
  • How can you help them?

Then based on those answers, create a specific and relevant introductory communication that speaks to them directly. That will open your doors to your dream development job.