Devex's top stories on innovation and recruitment trends in 2018

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As approaches to global development continue to evolve, so do the demands on the sector’s workforce; new players and funders require different skill sets and a more diverse range of professionals. To keep up with these demands, some organizations have started exploring new ways of reaching professionals from different backgrounds, including those who do not fit the traditional development profile, and thinking more about how to develop young and local talent.

Technology has proved another big driver of change in the sector in how organizations deliver and monitor solutions and carry out essential HR functions.

Here is a roundup of our top stories from 2018 on innovation and talent trends in global development, including insights on the changing role of HR, the potential benefits of artificial intelligence in recruitment, and the rise of the integrator.

1. How AI is changing the landscape of human resources

AI was the big buzzword at the 15th annual Career Development Roundtable that took place in Lisbon, Portugal, toward the end of last year. While AI could drastically improve efficiency when it comes to tasks such as candidate vetting, there were still concerns among industry professionals that these tools could also contribute to biases in HR processes.

Ahead of the discussions in Lisbon, Devex also spoke to organizer Michael Emery, director of human resources at the International Organization for Migration, to hear his thoughts on how the HR landscape is evolving. Emery discussed the possibilities of digitalization in the sector and why development organizations need to embrace these changes.

2. What is an ‘integrator’ role?

As global development continues to attract and engage new partners, the sector’s employers will increasingly be looking for integrators — professionals who understand multiple specialties and how they impact each other and can foster these collaborations.

Alexis Bonnell, division chief of applied innovation and acceleration with the U.S. Agency for International Development U.S. Global Development Lab, spoke to Devex about the growing demand for integrators in the development workforce. She explained the types of roles that are typically suited to integrators, and what skills and approaches they can bring to the sector.

3. Why organizations need to stop hiring expats and start hiring more local staff 

While major donors and organizations have voiced commitment toward the localization of aid work, many still opt to bring in international staff — particularly to fill leadership positions — and continue to lag when it comes to hiring local talent.

Devex spoke to World Neighbors, an NGO that only employs local staff to run its programs, to hear more on the short- and long-term benefits of hiring and building capacity among country nationals.

4. How one organization is taking an X-factor approach to finding future talent

Taking inspiration from TEDx talks and well-known TV talent shows, the British Council made live heat events part of the recruitment process for their Future Leaders Connect program. Candidates were put through their paces during live debates, broadcast presentations, and audience votes that tested a range of skills and allowed judges to get to know the individuals better.

The idea is that, by giving less focus to the university candidates studied at, the program will engage a broad range of young people across participating countries and discover hidden talent.

5. How the Hilton Prize Coalition is building future humanitarian leaders

Building the next generation of humanitarian leaders is a top priority for the Hilton Prize Coalition, an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

To support member organizations in identifying and developing the sector’s future leaders, the coalition has developed three talent development programs that focus on collaboration, investing in new skill sets, and building a diverse workforce.

About the author

  • Emma Smith

    Emma Smith is a Reporter at Devex. She covers all things related to careers and hiring in the global development community as well as mental health within the sector — from tips on supporting humanitarian staff to designing mental health programs for refugees. Emma has reported from key development hubs in Europe and co-produced Devex’s DevProWomen2030 podcast series. She holds a degree in journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University and a master's in media and international conflict. In addition to writing for regional news publications, she has worked with organizations focused on child and women’s rights.