Social media strategy

How is recruitment in the sector changing in 2020?

2019 was a challenging year for all of us across the world.

In the Middle East and North Africa, uprisings in Algeria, Sudan, Lebanon, and Iran reverberated across the region. In Sub-Saharan Africa, we had severe droughts and major floods. It’s 2020 and the UK has officially left the European Union and the Coronavirus outbreak continues to cause concern.

Going forward, there will be many challenges facing the international development sector in how NGOs recruit new talent.

What kinds of jobs are NGOs looking for?

Political changes in the US have led to struggles within USAID, which has led to more fixed-term, rather than permanent, contracts. In the UK, the future of the Department for International Development (DFID) under Boris Johnson and after Brexit is in question, and UK NGOs are concerned about how Brexit will affect their funding.

This will affect the types of contracts organisations will be able to offer new candidates. Already we are seeing candidates having to work as consultants and/or on a more interim basis, while those already in full-time positions are less willing to move. We’ve also seen an increase in contracts with remote working options and flexible work hours.

Over the last year, climate change has taken centre-stage as a major threat to humanity’s existence. This has recently led to more environment, conservation, and safeguarding-related roles being offered at NGOs, which we predict will increase over the coming year as well.

Recruiters supporting the development sector should look at how we are affecting the environment and take steps to reduce our carbon footprints by supporting remote work, looking into alternative ways to travel rather than fly, and partnering with environmental organisations to aid their missions.

What kinds of candidates are NGOs looking for?

As recruiters in the sector, we need to act as a bridge between the client and our candidates, ensuring that both sides have a fulfilling and helpful experience with us.

Key skills and attributes that our clients have mentioned more over the last year include candidates who are self-starters who would require less training, are a cultural fit, more diverse, and proficient in multiple languages. Clients have also been mentioning the need for more women from the global south in senior-level positions.

These requirements will only become even more important for anyone looking to recruit in the sector. However, some of these attributes can be challenging to gauge through a conversation. Offering psychometric testing can help bolster your top candidate and prove to the client that they are indeed the right person for the job.

How is recruitment search changing?

Less funding has also meant the need for recruitment agencies to respond actively and flexibly to meet the evolving requirements of organisations in the sector, including offering services such as coaching, advisory support and salary benchmarking in addition to recruitment. This has also meant working to offer lower-cost options, such as search-only and longlisting for smaller organisations that need support, but cannot take on a full search project.

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Search is also no longer focused on one or two specific sectors, so diversifying your portfolio is of utmost importance. This means engaging more with philanthropies and foundations, multilateral development banks and charities.

Being on the ground in the places where candidates are being placed is key. Having consultants and researchers from and based in the global south helps give recruitment agencies the credibility to do more than just recruit, but partner with the client and act as an advisor.

Recruiters should be engaging even more with clients to understand not only the role, but also their culture, mission, and vision for their organisations. Offering additional services, such as assessment and learning, is a great way to better connect with clients and back-up the best candidates.

To succeed as a search firm, it is necessary to ensure that the candidates are at the centre of each and every recruitment process. Over the last year, it has been wonderful connecting with our candidates and listening to their needs, which have included more advice from us as recruiters in the sector and, probably partly due to a decrease in permanent work contracts, interim opportunities, including consultancies.

Sometimes the search process can get stressful with time constraints and client pressure to deliver, but a key tip is to always give the most time and attention to your top candidates to ensure a smooth process as well as gain their trust.

Oxford HR is an organisation that operates across the world in every time zone, works with clients in over 70 countries, employs colleagues from over 17 different nationalities, and has over 47,000 registered candidates. Our aim lies in searching for a better world, placing purpose before profit. For more information or to reach out to us for support with a key placement in your organisation, please visit our website.

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