Fifteen seconds - that’s the average length of calls to an innovative new hotline which helps international aid groups in post-earthquake Haiti find local hires for their projects.
Konbit allows Haitian nationals to call toll-free and record messages detailing their skills and other information that may land them a job with one of the many international development groups working in the Caribbean island nation. An audio resume or curriculum vitae, so to speak - and a popular one: The service attracted more than 3,000 calls within two months of its January launch.
What do callers hear when dialing in? First, an automated greeting explaining the service and setting realistic expectations about the job search. Then, callers are asked about experience in construction, sewing, babysitting and first aid, among other skills. If a caller has experience in any job category, they press “1” and record a message.
The greeting and instructions are in Creole, Haiti’s unofficial language that is widely spoken especially by the country’s large unemployed and illiterate population. Messages are recorded and, if necessary, translated into English before being entered into Konbit’s online database, which employers can search after signing up.
Konbit has been struggling to keep up with translations and job placement as it continues to form relationships with NGOs and aid groups. But this service, launched by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology students, has already gained support from Oxfam, the American Red Cross and others. And given today’s reach of the cell phone, it may help engage hard-to-reach people in their country’s recovery and development.
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