The Single Best Action to Jump Start Your ICT4D Career

And it is not working on your resume, sending out CV’s to every job ad, or going to career fairs. In fact, doing those is a waste of time.

All the experts and I agree that there is only one way to get hired fast and first, go on informational interviews.

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Its all about who you know

When someone in the ICT4D community has a problem they need help with, or when they win a project and need to staff up, they do not send out a job ad first. That’s actually a last resort.

First they think of whom they know who could do the job. They ask those folks if they are interested in the job. If there are no takers, they then ask their friends and colleagues’ for recommendations. Only then, if they are still at a loss, do they post a job ad.

Some employers require a job ad be posted, but it is usually a formality vs. a first act. The person who will have to manage or work with the new person usually has in mind a specific person or personality type they want. Any random resume or CV will have to compete with that mental idea.

Find out who to know

Since referrals and recommendations are key, you want to be in the mind of those that would be hiring new staff or those of their friends and colleagues. You want to be the person they think of first or is recommended to them. But how do you find them?

The ICT4D community is small and global, spread out around the world and eyeball-deep in projects. Finding and connecting with the influencers and decision makers who would hire you is a serious challenge. You could spend many months or even years trying to find them yourself, or you could join our forum and meet them all today.

Go on informational interviews

But what then? Once you have a list of possible contacts how do you get potential employers to notice you and learn of your skills and abilities? Sending a CV and asking about a job, or worse cold calling them to ask, will only get you rejected and possibly blacklisted as too desperate.

Rather than ask about employment, go on an informational interview and ask to talk with your contacts about their career and their profession. Informational interviews are a low-stress (for you and them) way to learn more about a person, an organization, and the ICT4D profession.

Here are great resources on what an informational interview is and how it differs from a job interview:

Informational interviews are not just for job seekers – they’re great for the employed as well. Here is a key passage on informational interviews from the Wall Street Journal article that explains why:

Pamela Peterson, an employed executive in Chicago, conducts information interviews whether she’s working or jobless to ensure that she keeps building her network of contacts and her career focus on track. Then, when she does decide to look for work, she has a network in place to help her uncover leads and refer her to potential employers.

“Never, never, never ask for a job,” says Ms. Peterson, currently director of business development for IPSA International, a risk-management consulting firm. “This is the cardinal rule of information interviewing; you are there only to gather new knowledge and validate your focus. Eighty percent of the time people are delighted and willing to meet and to help, primarily because they recognize the value of networking as well the satisfaction that comes from being able to help someone.”

In general, informational interviews are great because people love talking about themselves, and this will give you much needed background on the trends and influencers in ICT4D. This also gives you one key advantage – the potential employer now knows who you are.

By going on an informational interview, you show your interest in the field, you put a face and personality to your name, and you make additional connections for future interviews. Best of all the next time they are looking to hire, you will be first in their mind, and if a friend asks about a staff need, it is you they will refer.

So what are you waiting for? Stop fiddling with your resume and start informational interviewing today!

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