software developer age ict4d

Am I Too Old to Start a Digital Development Career?

Question 14: Am I too old to start a development career?

I have over a decade of experience in software development and data journalism. I am now 37 years old. Am I too old to start a career in international development?

Have a job search or career growth question? Ask me!

Development Needs Many Viewpoints

International development is like any industry, it constantly needs new viewpoints to see and develop innovation and move the industry forward. These viewpoints come at different stages – be they views from early career, mid-career, senior career, or even retired professionals.

At 37 years old with over a decade of software development and data journalism experience, you would have very relevant skills and abilities that many international development employers would highly value.

you are not too old

In fact, you could be at a great age to make the move into development. You probably have the enthusiasm to develop new ideas and the maturity to mold them into practical solutions. Check out our jobs newsletter – one could be just for you.

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!

Job Search Questions & Answers Part 2

Recently I asked you to tell me about your job search dilemmas and wow! I received a wave of responses. Here is the next installment. Ask me question to see it responded to here.

Their Question:

All the advice I see is to focus my job search on one cause or role. However, I see so many interesting jobs – I want to apply to them all. I also don’t want to limit myself to one type of job. What if no one is hiring for it? How can I make my CV flexible enough to apply to multiple opportunities?

My Response:

The cold reality is that you have to pick a role and bet on it. I know what sounds both scary and limiting , but its the best way to actually break into ICT4D.

For every job opening, an organization will get 100-300 inquiries, most of which will be generic. People who seem interested in the field in general, but not that excited about the specific organization and its mission. They will also get 3-5 people who are really engaged – they know the issues, the people involved, and obviously care about having impact.

Who do you think will get the interview? The job?

So while I does feel like you are cutting off options when you focus on one specific role within one specific cause, you are actually taking a big step forward towards an ICT4D job. People hire on passion. Show yours.

Want more depth to your career questions? Grab a career coaching session.