misunderstood message could cause a
catastrophic failure. So while problems
must be solved fast, the communication
must be meticulous, intentional, careful,
repetitive, even slow.
Nobody wants to be the one to
explain why the whole village can’t be
hired, but it has to be said. Nobody wants
to explain to the soldier why they have
to leave their weapon with the guard
before paying a visit to their friend in
the hospital. But it has to be done.
These people, these humanitarians,
have the qualities you want. They are
out there. And they have the skills
and experience you need. They are
coordinators, project managers, HR
experts, trainers, finance wizards,
logisticians, even sales reps. They are
security managers, fleet managers,
supply specialists, warehouse
managers, constructors and architects,
sanitation geniuses, IT specialists,
electricity experts and bridge makers
in more ways than one.
So How Do You Find Them?
You want them. They want you. So
how do you find one another?
Go beyond the ATS: Be open to
talking with people whose resumes
include digging wells, designing
refugee camps, instantly responding
to disasters halfway around the world.
Search for those with field experience,
international experience and the ability
to work across cultures. Look for those
who list their work history by project,
rather than by profession. Look for
those who speak odd (for you) second
languages: Swahili, Arabic or Creole.
Be the pioneer. This idea of
intentionally seeking out humanitarian
talent is a new concept. Be the
one to lead the way. Contact the
HR departments of humanitarian
organizations. Let them know
you would like to actively partner
with them to develop and hire
humanitarians who are between
assignments. Let a humanitarian find
a “home” away from the field with
your organization. Then leverage your
experience, raising your own profile
as an employer with a creative and
effective recruitment strategy and
inspire others to do the same.
Offer project-based employment.
We’re still in the habit of expecting
long-term availability of the talent
we hire. And you might be thinking,
“Yeah, great, but aren’t these people
going to ship out again on another
humanitarian assignment? What’s the
point of hiring them, when they’re just
going to take off again?” Granted, that’s
an issue. But short-term relationships
with employees has become a fact of
life. And at least in this case, you can
plan for this contingency.
According to Gallup, of the 10
million new jobs created between
2000 and 2015, 94 percent can be
described as “alternative jobs.” The
“gig economy” is part of our lexicon
and humanitarians get it. Their lives
are lived from project to project. Take
advantage of their comfort levels with
project-based employment. How many
of your openings can be reengineered
to be either project-based contracts or
short-term employment for up to, say,
one or two years?
Humanitarians return to their home
country between assignments. And
they can come back to you to take on
new projects. Once they’ve caught up
on their sleep, they are grateful for the
opportunity to do what they do best for a
company they know and where they have
relationships established. Like yours.
After a career in HR in the U.S.,
Catherine Carr, joined Doctors Without
Borders in 2009. She has since worked
in 10 projects in Africa, the Middle
East, the Philippines and Haiti, where
she is assigned until 2018. For more
information on sourcing humanitarians
as candidates, contact Catherine at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Send your
questions or comments about this story to
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