Tess, tell us a little about your background – how did you get into International Development?
I studied a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Indonesian and Asian Studies. I wanted to work in the region, and was interested to learn more about the poverty faced by a large part of the population. I applied for a director position with IHF as I had volunteered with them previously and really enjoyed it. I knew that working in development would be challenging and a great learning opportunity.
Can you give a short introduction to International Humanity Foundation?
The International Humanity Foundation has been around for almost three decades now. Through educational and orphanage centers in four locations across Indonesia, one in Thailand and one in Kenya, we aim to offer children in need an education, and in some cases, a home. Also, a large part of our mission is creating volunteering opportunities for people on the other side of the world to learn about poverty, and give them the chance to gain experience in development. We do this with the hope that those who volunteer with us will be inspired to work in development.
What are the most common work opportunities in IHF? How is the selection process?
We have short term volunteering opportunities; but in terms of work opportunities we have the director position. IHF is an all-volunteer organisation, and directors, who apply for a minimum of one year to live in one of our centers not only run the centers, but are also responsible for all the administration. So a wide variety of learning experience is applicable to the position, and no matter what an applicant’s experience may be, there will always be a lot learnt on the job.
To be a director with IHF, experience in development is not necessarily a prerequisite. We look for applicants who fully understand the commitment and who want the position for the right reasons, who have demonstrated through their previous work experience or study, whatever field that might be in, that they have the right attitude and work ethic.
What are the key elements you check on a candidate resume?
As I was saying above, there are a wide variety of applicant resumes that could potentially be suited to the position, but primarily on the resume we are impressed when it is clear that the applicant has already followed up on a lot of opportunities to volunteer or be involved in the community; if they are recently graduated that their studies were relevant to the field; or if they are older, that they have proven their reliability and have progressed in their careers.
What are the key skills that you look for when you are hiring someone?
Communication is key, and this is something that I often notice in the application process. Applicants who are clear and prompt impress me, and also who show that they have clearly looked carefully through the information we have sent them, and researched IHF, and ask relevant questions showing that they take the position and the commitment clearly.
How difficult is to find good candidates? What are the challenges?
It is very difficult for us to find good candidates. Firstly, it is a volunteer position. Secondly, it is a big commitment. It is suited to a pretty specific candidate, not necessarily regarding experience, but where they are in their life; do they have dependants, are they financially comfortable, and so on. We have a lot of trouble finding candidates who are genuinely interested in and understand the volunteer aspect of the position.
Getting personal: tell us something you absolutely dislike in a candidate application or interview.
Poor communication. Many candidates are unprofessional in their communication. I’m not after a really high level of professionalism, but some of what we see is astoundingly poor.
What tips would you give to someone interested in working for IHF?
Read all the information about the position and IHF carefully and respond accordingly.
Do you have any other career tips for people that are seeking a job in International Development?
Volunteer positions such as the director position with IHF are a great launching opportunity into the field of development. It’s a chance to gain experience and potentially move forward into a paid position.
A special thanks to Tess for being available and willing to share!