Results tagged “Employment” from Wayan Dot Com

Last year, I started the ICT4D Career Network to help people start and grow their career in information and communication technologies for development. At first, I thought there would be more ICT experts than employers with job openings. Now I know better.

There are more ICT4D jobs than ICT experts

Recently, I spoke at an ICT4D Career Workshop, where employers almost outnumbered those seeking jobs. Each was hungry for quality applicants to staff their many job openings and all told of hardship in finding ICT4D experts.

In fact, I publish dream ICT4D job announcements every day, and yet there seems to be more job opportunities than I can keep up with. Yet there are still only a handful of people looking to start an ICT4D career.

You too have the needed ICT4D skills

Interestingly, most people assume they need to know how to code software or install communications hardware to get a job in ICT4D. However, the majority of employers I talk to are not looking for these "hard" technology skills. IT techies can be found all over the world now.

What employers are looking for is staff with the "soft" skills like clear, concise writing, which is always a critical skill in a development organization, and people skills, which is really flexibility and adaptability. Another key skill is the ability to tell pie in the sky tech ideas from on the ground reality, and the ability to innovate within the real life context of the beneficiaries you work with.

If you've been working in the developing world, or in the fast-paced technology field (and not even as a techie) then most likely you have the needed skills to success at ICT4D. So what is stopping you? Start networking and jump start your career today!

Wanna get job search advice & ICT4D job opportunities? Subscribe to the ICT4D Career Forum!

"We need a website. Who wants to figure that out?" says my new boss in the very first staff meeting I attend on the very first day of my new job.

"I will," I answered, and so in 1995, I started blogging, before there was even a term for it.

wayan vota
Blogging got me on 60 Minutes!

Fast forward 15 years and I'm now paid to blog. In fact, through blogging, I'm known as an ICT4D expert, which has led to the best job I've ever had and a sweet consulting gig with the World Bank. It's also led me to great personal happiness, but that's a different post.

We're not here to talk about personal blogs. We're here at the World Bank's "Making a Difference in International Development with Blogging" session to learn how to blog your profession to achieve an amazing international development career.

First, do you blog? If you said no, then do you Facebook? Or Twitter? Then you're blogging. In fact, I would say that in this day and age everyone blogs in one-way or another. Personally, I blog professionally on five platforms:

  1. ICTworks - an online community for ICT practitioners in the developing world.
  2. Technology Salon - exploring the nexus of ICT and development
  3. OLPC News - the premier independent online community on One Laptop Per Child
  4. Educational Technology Debate - discussing low-cost ICT initiatives for education
  5. Technology Salon - an in-person, informal discussion at the intersection of ICT and development

That looks like a lot, right? Its actually not, as all these blogs cover the same topic, ICT4D, in different ways, so a post for one can be re-purposed for others. But no matter which blog I write for, I keep 3 things in mind:

Write to Your Key Audience

To improve your professional standing, you need to blog professionally. You need to think of your blogging/social media as a sales tool you're using to reach your target audience, and then be focused on that audience's needs.

First, define your target audience. Personify the 5-10 specific people that you'd like to work with or for. Then figure out what might arouse their interest and attention (topics, thoughts, arguments, etc) - ask them directly if you already know them.

Next, slavishly focus on them. Write every blog post as if you are writing to them. You can even send them select blog posts. Just be sure to keep on topics of their interest or find themes they mention elsewhere and comment on them (the ideas) in posts.

If you pick the right key audience (thought leaders in your industry, or decision makers in your field), others will start to read your work too, and soon you'll be leading a tribe of followers.

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Enlightened by OLPC News success

The OLPC News Example

When I started OLPC news, my goal was to stop work at the One Laptop Per Child headquarters when I published a post. I wanted to reach the 30+ people leading the initiative and make them think. I wanted to change the way OLPC was being deployed.

By being so purposeful in my writing, I was able to focus on topics that mattered, and I definitely go their attention. I knew that when they sent a consigliere, a Tom Hagen, to tell me to chill out in my rants.

Through that focus, I eventually owned the OLPC community. Over 5,000 people read OLPC News every day, a real achievement for a niche blog, and they spend an average of 4 minutes on the site, an eternity in the web world. And the site is a recognized force in the community, even by Nicholas Negroponte himself, the OLPC founder.

Engage Your Key Audience Everywhere

Realize that no matter your writing skill, you nee dot be where your audience is. A post unread does not exist. So be on any platform your key audience congregates on, from MySpace to Okrut, to LinkedIn, even if you dislike it.

Also, be sure to create opportunities for offline, face-to-face meetings as well. These can be as simple as a meetup over beers, or as formal, scheduled meetings or conferences, but just remember to keep activities focused and relevant to your key audience.

Your goal with both of these activities is to get on your key audience's and their colleagues' radar. You want your key audience to think, "Wow, they are everywhere in this space. I need to pay attention to them."

Once there, you can use the body of work you'd written on the blog as deeper background after you've met them, "Thanks for the meeting, by the way, here's a post I wrote on what we talked about," and additional contact opportunities, "Do you know this other expert on the topic we talked about?" This will help make you central to their professional community.


Rob Munro discussing his SMS efforts

Technology Salon Example

Even though I pretty much live online, there isn't any substitute for meeting in-person. So for each platform, I also organize offline events. In fact, I created the Technology Salon specifically to network with my peers face-to-face.

The Technology Salon started when I wanted to have a few beers with my ICT4D colleagues and talk about our work. Then I realized that like me, they all had spouses, kids, and other entanglements that eliminated casual evening meetups. So I moved the Salons to the morning, gave us a strong industry focus, and served coffee and donuts instead of beers. Only begrudgingly I started blogging our meetings, but they have actually driven greater attendance at Salons.

And wow! The Salons now attract a stunning turnout. We have everyone from Vodafone regional presidents to USAID decision makers, to technology innovators on the cutting edge of ICT, and there is even a three-month waiting list for speaker slots. From this networking session, jobs have been found, proposal teams created, and large contracts won - the ultimate measure of success.

Focus on Tangible Outcomes

Which brings us to the ultimate goal of your professional blogging - cash money, honey. Going back to the first point I made, blogging and social media should be one part of your overall professional sales strategy. And you are selling something: your expertise, monetized as a salary or consulting contract.

So always keep that in mind when you are blogging. You are positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field, raising your profile to "expert", and advertising your ability to achieve results. This does not happen overnight, of course, but blogging can speed up the process. To copy from Why Blogging is Good for Your Career, here are the seven benefits it bestows:

  1. Your blog becomes a log of your ideas for yourself (inspiration and record keeping)
  2. Your blog is like an extended business card (personal branding)
  3. Looking for materials for posts makes listening and reading more active (focus)
  4. Researching for posts is educative (learning)
  5. Posts can be used to claim intellectual property rights (protection)
  6. Interaction with idols, readers and others (networking)
  7. A blog makes you visible online (controlling web presence)

From this elevated profile, you should start to get a following, people who read your work regularly. Focus on the quality of your following - is it your key audience? Are they linking to your posts, commenting on them directly or in their own work? And most importantly, are they now coming to you with questions about trends in the industry or best of all, opportunities for employment?


Wayan Vota at Live Debate India

Educational Technology Debate Example

infoDev at the World Bank has always been a leader in the integration of ICT into development, especially ICT4E - the use of ICT in education. They literally wrote the book on its usage around the world and everyone looked to them for leadership.

As I started focusing on ICT4E as part of my overall ICT4D blogging, I consciously focused on attracting their attention. Once I realized that infoDev decision makers were reading my posts, I made sure to meet them in person, integrate their thoughts and ideas in my writing, and generally develop a relationship with them.

Over time, my blogging exploits lead to infoDev inviting me to submit a consultancy proposal for an ICT4E community of practice. And now I just finished a two-year contract organizing the Educational Technology Debate, which itself has lead to other consulting offers.

Blogging is Not Silver Bullet

Note that blogging should only be one sales tool of several you should use to promote yourself. Business cards, a good resume, clear focus on the skills you bring and the position you want, are just as important.

And all of this is predicated on your ability to think critically and express yourself fluently - though both of these will improve as you blog more. Practice makes perfect, and blogging has you practice your writing regularly.

So what are you waiting for? Start blogging on your profession today and dream about the kick-ass ICT job you'll have tomorrow.


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The response to my recent offering to help you get an amazing ICT4D dream job in 2011 has been overwhelming - I can barely keep up with the individual requests for help. So to speed up the knowledge sharing, I present to you the 3 surefire steps to securing a kick-ass ICT4D job (or any job) without waiting for me to reply to your email.


The Goal: Be Known in Your Field

The best jobs are not advertised in the paper. In fact, ads can be a sign of failure - the hiring person hasn't found anyone in their circle of colleagues and friends who knows a decent candidate.

So your overall goal is to be known in your field - be it ICT4D or any other industry - long before a job ad happens. Be up in everyone's grill to the point that if anyone does think, "Wow, I need help!" that their next thought is, "I know, I'll hire..." where your name is in that blank.

As everyone always says, it's whom you know, and it's easy to get a job when you have a job. But what if you don't know anyone in ICT4D? How to achieve that level of name recognition, especially if you're trying to break into the field? Here's the 3 ways to get an ICT4D job, no matter your present situation:

nonprofit employment


1. Start Making Contacts

To take a page from sales, you will probably need to meet 100 people just to find 10 who are potential job leads, and then only 1 will pan out to a job offer. If you want more than one job offer, you need to multiply these figures accordingly. So let's say you want 3 job offers - that means you need to make 300 contacts.

Now make a spreadsheet of everyone you already know in the field, or even somehow related to someone in the field. Mine your contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Add in contact info and how they're related to each other. Then start contacting each one (via email, phone, in-person, however) to ask for an informational interview.

You can also look for new contacts by reading relevant blogs and journals, even Tweets and Facebook entries of those in the field. Here's a few ICT4D Tweeps of you need inspiration.


2. Go on Informational Interviews

You have three goals in an informational interview: find out about them (What do you do, how does that fit in the industry?), get your message across (I'm amazing & available!), and get more contacts (Who else should I talk with?). Note that nowhere in here should you ask your interviewee for a job. This is a get-to-know-you chat where you're learning, not pitching.

Once the interview is over, put your new contacts into the spreadsheet you made in step 1. Also be sure to send follow up thank-you emails to both the interviewee and who recommended them. You goal here is to remind them of you and how amazing and available you are. It helps if you can add a link to your online presence, so they can read more about you.

Now repeat the informational interview process with the next contact, and then next one, and the next one. To give you context, I did two years of informational interviews before I landed my Geekcorps job - and that was via a colleague I'd met years before, which I cold-called to talk about my ICT4D desires. A year later, she was at a party and heard someone talking about hiring a geek for Africa.

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3. Blog About ICT4D

You can't be informational interviewing all the time, but you do want to be in the mind of your contacts as often as possible. You also want to give those that you have or will informational interview with an example of your work so they can see how awesome you are. Last but not least, you want your contacts to be able to show you off to others.

This days, that means you need to have an online presence. Have a full profile on LinkedIn at a minimum. Better is a professional name site (ie. Wayan Dot Com), and best is a deep body of work that's updated regularly, shows off your multiple talents, and can be easily skimmed - in other words, a blog. Besides my entire career built on success with blogging, here are 7 more reasons to blog professionally, even if you're not job searching. And if you need a blogging platform to talk about ICT4D, may I suggest one?

Each blog post is a mini-advertisement of your skills and thought leadership, a chance for you to raise your profile in ICT4D, and another opportunity to remind your contacts of your existence. They're busy people and might forget. Drop them a note connecting your blog post to their situation - that will go a long way in keeping you in their minds.


Common Sense Tips

Regardless of the medium, be sure your contact info is obvious - you want people to find you when you're job hunting. Which reminds me - make business cards with your name, your hoped-for job niche, and your contact details. Pass them out at every opportunity. It's another way to remind people of your awesomeness and availability.

Last but not least, don't pass up an opportunity to show off your awesomeness - volunteer to help on any and every project or conference that is in your field. And when at conferences, be laser-focused on networking. Skip the sessions if need be, you're aim is face time.

And good luck - we all need it.

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It's damn hard to get a job in international development. And if you're geeky and want to do ICT4D - use information and communication technologies for development, it's even harder.

Yet every year several hundred people graduate with international development degrees, many of them hoping to start a career in ICT4D. An equal number of professionals decide that ICT4D is their calling too. The ICT4D space is not big enough for all of them find their dream job - or any job for that matter.

So you see the problem. Now let me quantify it. For every job advertised, ICT4D employers get 100+ resumes. And that's the jobs not filled long before by a referral from a friend. So the odds are long.

It took me a lifetime of travel and geekery to prepare for two years of hard-core job hunting and over 150 informational interviews before I found my first ICT4D job at Geekcorps.

nonprofit employment

It's all about who you know

How might you find a dream job, or even several to choose from? All the experts and I agree: meet the prospective employer (or their colleague) long before there is a job opening, get to know them, show them your skills, and have them be thinking of you when they need help.

See, a job ad is the last thing an overworked international development expert wants to deal with. They hate the hassle of advertising the position, culling the resumes, and doing interviews. It's like a bad game of online dating. They would much rather hire someone they already know, or someone referred to them by a colleague, than a stranger off the street.

Still, you're thinking, "but how do I meet potential employers?" If you don't have an ICT4D job already, you don't know the places to meet ICT4D professionals or have a way to show your skills and potential.

Here's you chance to know everyone

Over the last 6 years in the ICT4D space, I've collected one hell of a Rolodex. Yeah, I know people. In fact, I pride myself on using that Rolodex to help those trying to break into international development. I'll do informational interviews with anyone and try to connect ICT4D hopefuls with at least 3 of my colleagues.

But now I'm willing to do more. I'm willing to give someone an inside view of ICT4D. I'm willing to share my whole Rolodex - everyone I've ever met or worked with in international development. I'm giving someone the opportunity to showcase their ICT4D skills to that Rolodex, and position themselves as the must-have candidate for the next dream job.

The catch

You want an amazing ICT4D dream job. You want to meet the who's who in international development. I organize several communities of practice around the intersection of technology and development. Each will need more love and attention that I can provide this fall. Do you see where I am going yet? If not, let me spell it out:

Work with me to cultivate and expand these communities from July to December, and I'll work with you to make sure you've got an amazing ICT4D dream job offer by January 2011.

Don't be thinking this is an internship - its not. This is an investment in your ICT4D career. You'll invest 10 hours a week cultivating contacts with the best and brightest, people I love to work with and you'd love to work for. You'll gain priceless networking and community building skills. And you'll have at least one job offer in just six months of effort - a full year quicker than most.

So who am I looking for?

You need to be a self-starter, someone who can take a goal and figure out how to reach it. You need to have some familiarity with ICT4D, or at least international development. You'll need to be willing to commit at least 10 hours a week over the next six months. And you can work from wherever, but you do need to be able to be in Washington DC regularly - at least 2-3 times a month.

Past that, convince me that I should trust you with six years of contacts and my professional reputation when I refer you to potential employers (yes, that's the goal - figure out how to reach it).

What will you do?

First, you'll meet with me regularly - I may be an online junkie, but face time is priceless. During these meetings we'll discuss two overall topics:

  1. Goals for the different communities of practice and how we can work together to achieve them. You'll be a partner in their development, not a gopher (not to say there aren't boring tasks you'll have to do). You'll be expected to spend at least 5 hours a week on the communities.
  2. Goals for your career and how we'll work together to achieve them. Everything from what you want to be doing to whom you want to work for, and all the steps and introductions needed to get there. You'll be expected to spend at least 5 hours a week on your career goals.

Note this is an unpaid engagement; your reward is an amazing ICT4D dream job. Yet, I cannot guarantee that job. It will be your achievement as much as mine.

So what are you waiting for? If you've read this far, you should be itching to email me your interest so we can meet and discuss this opportunity in more detail.

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