Sparks of Hope for Talent in International Development

Nick interviewing Ryan Ubuntu-Olson

By Nick Martin, TechChange Founder and CEO

As the leader of a tech company that helps social impact organizations deliver rocking virtual events, you might be surprised that one of my favorite things to do is to mingle. IN person. To get out there and meet people who are working on the world’s most pressing issues, and hear how things are going and what trends that they’re seeing. At last week’s Society of International Development US annual conference, themed ‘World in Crisis: Sparks of Hope’, I had the opportunity to do just that, and those energizing conversations have me reflecting on the evolving talent landscape in our industry. 

With the launch of our Impact Coach program to pair social impact professionals with leadership and career coaches, this is admittedly something I’ve been thinking about a fair amount already. But talking with a wide range of people, all with different backgrounds and specialties within international development, made clear to me three basic truths of talent right now.

#1. Everyone is looking for a job, even if they aren’t. 

The flyers for our free, social-impact centered Job Board positively flew off the table at the TechChange booth, into the hands of people who were explicitly on the hunt, along with those who already have decent roles at development organizations. It may be a marker of the economic uncertainty of the times, the always-changing funding landscape, or a generational shift in so-called company loyalty, but it’s clear that folks are keeping an eye out for open opportunities. From a talent perspective, this openness to competitive offerings can widen your list of prospects when you’re head-hunting to fill a key role. 

#2. Hiring needs exist outside of HR–and people want help. 

Especially when it comes to hiring entry- and mid-level positions, many managers and senior leaders are tasked with finding their own candidates. Depending on the organization, there can be a variety of help coming from HR for this…or not. With slashed budgets in many contexts, this issue is only going to get worse. Managers need help finding and recruiting quality people, whether or not hiring and firing is their full time job. 

In addition to mid-level folks, our booth at SID was visited by a ton of amazing students, many of whom are about to graduate and facing uncertain prospects. They’re eager to work in development, but many will struggle to find positions without relevant experience. On-the-job learning programs and coaching can help young, up-and-coming leaders to find their footing. Bonus: their tech skills may wind up an unexpected asset for the organization. 

#3. There’s an evolving need for just-in-time expertise for project implementation. 

This is true whether you’re compiling CVs for a proposal or staffing a new country roll-out of a global program. Your team’s hiring needs can go from zero to sixty with one email, and often, require an infusion of particular skill sets such as digital development fluency, local languages, and other forms of technical expertise. TechChange’s targeted country specific recruitment drives for staffing projects can help you to quickly meet localization objectives, along with our executive search offerings, which focus on placing DEI, senior leaders, and technical candidates.

Pathways for diversity are essential

As the technical event partner for the SID conference, we ran our signature Pop-Up studio, where we broadcast interviews with speakers and in-person attendees out to virtual participants of the hybrid event. In an interview with one of my favorite development professionals, Ryan Ubuntu-Olson, the current Global Manager for Diversity, Equity, Engagement & Inclusion at DAI and up-and-coming author, had this to say about diversity and talent. 

Interviewing Ryan in our Pop-Up studio

“Just like you, we work in a mission driven industry. A lot of people really care. They want to know how to do diversity better, how to be more inclusive. We haven’t done a good enough job of showing them pathways to do so.”

You can watch the full interview video here. 

Providing democratized and open access to job opportunities within the industry is part of providing those pathways to and for diversity. So is curating lists of qualified job seekers based on expertise, location, and other demographic attributes in order to ensure the widest possible swath of people get to work in making the world a better place. And offering on-the-job coaching to allow folks to grow into those dream roles can be a big help too. 

Want to learn more about the TechChange talent offerings? Schedule a call with me or contact our team for one free curated list of qualified candidates for any position.

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