It takes 2 to surge

It takes two to tango. So, for this new blog we decided to have a joint interview with both a recruiter and the professional she recruited through HumanSurge. A great example of real-time on-demand connections which enhance surge capacity, boosting emergency response operations.

It is often the teams already in the field who feel the “pain” when vacancies take too long to fill. Exactly the reason why HumanSurge is bridging the gap.


Rebecka Jonsson 

Rebecka is a Program Manager for Humanitarian Response at Medical Teams International (MTI), with several years of experience in the humanitarian sector and a focus on forced migration. Not a recruiter by profession, yet when she saw that her HR department was overstretched, due to the current high needs in the humanitarian sector, she decided to help out. A real ‘Jack of all trades’, as we see it.

Rebecka: Me working with HumanSurge is a bit of a case study for our HR department. After MTI’s response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, we came to the conclusion that our organisation needed more people in its emergency roster. This was to help us get boots on the ground more quickly after an immediate emergency. One of our advisors mentioned HumanSurge because it is quite practical and specifically tailored to our sector.


How was it to search for people on the site?

R: I kept my search parameters quite broad because I felt the narrowing options left out too many prospective options. So, I ended up looking at around 160 profiles. Nevertheless, you’re able to easily see where people have been and the elevator pitch really helps you get a feel for the person behind a profile. The pitches are direct and refreshing and set the HumanSurge site apart. That is why it is such a shame that not everyone puts down a pitch.  For me, it helped me make decisions about who to contact.

Also, someone from HumanSurge advised me that if you keep the subject line/topic of a conversation the same it is easier to find and keep track of your communications. That helped me a lot when I started contacting people. 


How did your actual communications go?

For that first search, I ended up contacting eight people. Of those, we interviewed three, and two went on to our recruitment procedures. Which meant more interviews and eventually also screenings. I hope that when HumanSurge grows and evolves, the site can also function as a complete backlogging system for all recruiting communications. Like an independent backup system, that can also function as a reference/guideline system for new searches.


So, was Neil one of those first 8 you contacted?

R: Yes, with him we went through the entire extensive interview and screening process that is required for the emergency roster. But, then in February this position came up for which he was just perfect and we were able to contact him with our Africa team.


Where you immediately interested in the position proposed by MTI?

Neil: Yes, it was a bit different from what they had asked but interesting. So, since all the screening procedures were already done, I was able to deploy after only 5 days of negotiations.


Neil Peterson

Having worked in Africa before, Neil knew something about what his new assignment in Uganda would be like, especially since some of his previous assignments have been for UN peacekeeping missions. Yet, even though he is a very experienced logistician this is his first mission outside the corporate sector.

N: I want to keep learning and improve my knowledge. And, it has been nice to see how my skills crossover to my current assignment at MTI. Since my deployment, I have been traveling around the country to have a hands-on look at their procurement and delivery system and methods. The best part has been that now when I find ways to improve efficiency. I don’t increase the profit for the company I work for, but I free money for MTI to help more people. 


As a non-Humanitarian, how did you find HumanSurge and how was it to register?

N: I Think I saw it on LinkedIn when they were just starting out. I liked the connection to the work I was already doing and I thought it was good they wanted to specialise their focus on that specific sector. Especially, since emergency response really needs specialised professionals, which are tailored to the situation and can live in those kinds of contexts.

I actually went on a pretend search myself and I thought it interesting, that when you search for someone, their highest managed budget shows up close to their name. Almost like they are asking for that amount, or are worth as much. So, I lowered my own number, because I was afraid people would misinterpret.

Signing up I noticed that logistics is not subdivided into different expertise’s, while, when you come from that sector you know that there is a lot of difference. And, just logistics doesn’t convey that. I would also love it if it could be visible that you have gone through certain screenings, perhaps making screenings part of the site. Or show that you have been deployed through HumanSurge. I think it can help boost the appeal of your profile. 

R: I agree with these suggestions, but I also fear that it could create a situation where the same people get hired every time and it would become a competition between organizations looking to hire. You want to give people the same fair chance.


Will HumanSurge become a standard surge tool for you?

R: Definitely. Throughout the process I noticed the HumanSurge system helped us make sure we ticked all the boxes and dotted the I’s. I would have loved to have a site like this earlier. It would have helped us avoid some problems in the past. Now, when one of my team members mentions that they need someone I go to HumanSurge.

N: I have already mentioned the site to some of the people I have worked with and who were looking for a new challenge. I think there are a lot of non-humanitarians who can be of service in the sector. Yet, I don’t think the site should become too broad, for it would lose its edge. 


Written by Anouk Hulspas

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