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

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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!

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!

ict4d job interview questions

Please Ask Interview Questions for Digital Development Jobs

Recently, I was hiring for ICT4D positions at my company and the experience reminded me of a strange trend: interviewees not asking any questions of the interviewers and their company.

Always Ask Questions

I don’t know why someone would not ask questions in an interview. The whole point of an interview is for us to get to know each other. To find out if we will be a good fit for each other. If this will be a good working relationship – the goal of every hiring manager and you.

Yet, I am often surprised by how many people don’t have questions or are reluctant to ask questions in an interview.

Questions Show Interest

When you ask a question about the role, the team, and the company, you show that you are interested in the position, and you want it to be a good fit, vs. just a job.

You should be asking a list of questions about how this role fits into your career goals, and just your day-to-day work wants. Every question is a good one, and helps you and the hiring manager learn about each other.

Questions Show Preparation

When you ask questions, you show the hiring manager that you’ve given thought to this role, this team, and this organization. It shows that you care about this job – not just any job.

When you ask detailed questions, that’s when the hiring manager knows you’ve done your homework, that you are a detailed person who cares about your work and will be prepared on a daily basis.

Questions Show You Care

Above all, questions show that you care about the time your spending thinking about this job and the time the hiring manager is spending on you. So your questions are not a waste of time. In fact, they are just the opposite – they are the key to winning your new job.

So do yourself, and your potential employer a favor – ask questions at your interviews.

internal ict4d job candidate

Always Be the Internal Digital Development Candidate!

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

Q4: What’s the Best Way to Get Hired?

Another subscriber question: I researched many different organizations and I found one that I really, really want to work for. What is the best way for me to get a job there?

The Internal Candidate Advantage

There are so many ways to get hired that choosing a “best” way is difficult. I’ll interpret this question as how to have the highest probability that you’ll get the full time job you want. In that case, the answer is simple: be the internal candidate.

Hiring staff is the riskiest thing a team can do. So anything you can do to de-risk the formal hiring process will put you on the shortlist to be hired. The three best situations, in descending order, are:

  1. Be personally known to the team as a co-worker
  2. Be known to the team through their trusted peers
  3. Be known in general as an expert on their need.

When you are known to the team as a co-worker, there are no surprises. They know exactly who you are and what you’re capable of. They have little risk in hiring you. Assuming you’re good at the role, it will be yours to lose.

Next, if at least their peers know you and can vouch for you, then you have an advantage over everyone else. Finally, if they don’t know you directly, at least make it easy for them to know of you, or get a good idea of who you are from your online presence.

How to Be the Internal Candidate

Now how to be personally known to the team as a co-worker if you’ve never worked there? Well, one way is to get a adjacent job with a different team, or as an intern with that team. However, if your heart is set on a specific role or you’re too experienced to intern, I’d suggest a volunteer consultancy.

Approach the team with an offer to support them as a consultant, with objectives, timelines, and outcomes – just like you would with any professional engagement. Except don’t ask to be paid in money, but in contacts and exposure. Be clear that you expect to work like any other consultant, just payment will be in access not cash.

This gives a clear signal that you are a skilled professional committed to the mission and organization, and will certainly make a positive impression. Now this should be done before they have a job opening. You are pre-positioning yourself for a role there, not working for free.

During your volunteer consultancy, network like mad and make a good impression by outperforming expectations. That way, when a job opening comes along, you will be the internal candidate. Or if they aren’t hiring, you’ll now have a team of people that can personally vouch for you at a sister organization.

ict4d job interview

Do Digital Development Job Interviews Make You Nervous?

Job Interviews Are Stressful for Everyone

Job interviews are always stressful. You are trying to show that you’re able to perform years’ worth of skills in maybe an hour or two – how could that not make anyone nervous?

And while it may not console you much, the interviewer is just as nervous as you. They have to make a major decision that will reverberate for years, in that short time window too.

Practice Interviewing to Calm Your Nerves

The best way to calm yourself down and improve your chances of getting a job is to practice the ICT4D job interview so you know what to expect, and what you’ll say to interviewer questions.

Get a friend to ask you questions as if you’re in a real job interview. Then get someone who you know, but not that well, to ask you different questions, so you’ll have experience in a more realistic setting.

Finally, one of the best ways to practice is to go on as many real interviews as you can get – even if the job may not be one you really want. There is no substitute for a real interview by someone who doesn’t know you.

If You Still Freeze, Own It

Even after all that practice, you may still freeze up on interview day. Or say the wrong thing when you meant something else. It’s okay, everyone messes up. The best response is for you to own the mistake as soon as you realize it.

Employers know they are hiring humans who make mistakes. Best are employees who are quick to see and correct mistakes, so show them that strength from the start.

Yes, even be so bold as to ask for another interview if you think its warranted. It’s better to be known for someone who wants to fix a mistake, than someone who lets mistakes define them.

Now Practice Every Way You Can

Okay, enough advice. Now go practice your job interview skills. Learn how to turn a question you don’t like into an answer you do. Or how to show, not tell, your accomplishments. And finally, find a way to make the interview show off your best skills and abilities.

Good luck!