Over the past few weeks, I reached out to industry experts to get their take on the top recruiting trends of 2013 and ask where they thought jobs will be in the days ahead. But I met with more pushback and jumpoff questions than answers. Indeed, it’s hard to pinpoint just a few trends when there are so many factors, such as what part of the world you are working in — developed, emerging or developing? And what kind of recruiting are you doing for what types of organizations?
In the end, the recruiters and development professionals who weighed in were in agreement that the most pronounced trend of 2013 is one that Devex has covered heavily this year across all development spectrums: localization. The trend is not only changing how and where recruiters source candidates, but also the role of expats and the types of technical experience recruiters will be looking for in 2014.
Localization and its wide-reaching effects on the aid community was the central topic at the first-ever Devex International Development Career Fair on African soil in October, where top recruiters from Abt Associates, RTI International and World Vision — to name a few — expressed the need to learn from and foster local initiatives around the world.
This strategy is no fad, according to Kathryn Erskine, senior talent acquisition manager at Creative Associates. Recruiters can expect to see it spill over into the coming years.
“The USAID Forward trend will continue, causing most — if not all — key staff to be host country nationals,” she said.
Localization of aid has sparked several offshoot trends, shared Karen Amatangelo-Block, director of global recruiting for Abt Associates, adding that for Abt, it has meant diversification by broadening their focus and engaging with smaller local projects.
“We’ve been working harder, we’ve been bidding on more work — maybe not huge USAID projects, for example, but bidding on more work in more countries with more partners,” she said.
And localization has meant ramping up their ability to have more in-depth networks on the ground in the countries where they work, she added.
Building those networks means spending more resources in countries where they haven’t been before — and sending more recruiters to the field, which she and others noted wasn’t as common even two years ago.
Localization is also a giant in terms of how it’s changing the job market — now trending toward more home office than field positions, roles requiring rare specialties, capacity building roles and positions in conflict areas.
Organizations like Creative that work in conflict and post-conflict settings will continue to see a growing need for specialized services, Erskine said. Geographically, the Middle East and North Africa regions as well as sub-Saharan and West Africa, will continue to areas of focus, she added. And for many private sector and nonprofit organizations, relief and development efforts related to the Syrian conflict will continue to be a high priority for donors.
The current needs of each country determine what types of professionals will be in demand in the coming year, but trends can help one speculate. The need for expats — whatever their nationality — will more and more be driven by market supply and demand efficiencies.
Africa, for example, is currently heavily focused on the development of its infrastructure, therefore technical expertise in the area of engineering — including civil, agriculture, and IT — will be required, Adama Coulibaly, Kenya regional director at Plan International, told Devex.
He added that the effects of climate change mean the world will need more climate change experts and disaster risk reduction experts.
Several professionals who commented in the Devex LinkedIn discussion group cited an increased need for IT, web and multimedia expertise across the board to ensure communication of activities and policy reforms. And over the next 10 years, monitoring and evaluation will remain a huge role for expats as local organizations recognize the importance and need for it, but might not know how to use survey tools or analyze data, Erskine said.
In the future, it would be helpful to have people that have worked both domestically and internationally, said Amatangelo-Block. It would be valuable for someone like a water and sanitation professional, for example, to have worked in their home country as well as in a developing country so they have a picture of both sides, she said.
What else do you think will be a 2014 recruiting or career trend? Leave your comments below.