One of Idealist's most enthusiastic HR Council members, Gaurav Gupta, and I sat down for a chat not too long ago to discuss how hiring is done at iVolunteer. A Marketing Communications Manager, Gaurav serves in support of his organization's internal and external marketing strategies. Highlights from our conversation are below:
Let's get to know a little about you and your work at iVolunteer- how long have you been working here?
I’ve been working here for a year, as the marketing manager. I handle marketing and communications and create strategy for what should be done through our marketing efforts. I help all locations with iVolunteer promotion, both online promotion and what they can do offline as well. I also handle our PR part and communication strategy to maintain our voice externally; for example, if someone from iVolunteer presents outside the organization.
How did you get into this work?
I’ve been working for four years since graduating from university and I was inclined to go towards the social sector since then. I wanted to work at a volunteer organization and this job has given me the opportunity to work with people who want to volunteer, make a difference, and change society.
Do you do a lot of hiring?
Yes. iVolunteer has a sister company called Jobs For Good which we use to hire employees for the social sector to help NGOs in India. We use it internally at iVolunteer and other external organizations can use it as well. It focuses on the social sector, Corporate and helps the NGOs in India in all the metropolitan cities to hire with the right skill set.
One of your strengths is managing teams. What are one or two practices that have worked really well for you?
One of the practices would be to have a monthly team dinner. A lot of times, managers forget the team members are not your employees, but part of your family too.
The other practice one should follow is morning journal feedback, every morning for about 8-15 minutes. We talk about what happened the day before and what needs to be planned for the next day. We also talk spend about 5-10 minutes talking about what is happening around the world. If you are a marketing professional and you are informed about the news, you can use that information to apply to your marketing strategies.
How did you find a job that aligned with your personal mission? what advice would you give to others?
I have divided my journey into 5-year goals. I believe in midterm goals, and for me, five years is mid-term. If I want to achieve something, I divide it into 5-year increments. I plan, work the plan, and see how people have analyzed my work. Having a mid-term goal is important when aligning your personal mission with your job.
What should job seekers know about an organization like yours?
iVolunteer is a social enterprise that promotes volunteering. Our mission is to bring volunteers and organizations together to share time, skills, and passion to promote India's social development.
It’s good practice to ask about the organization and team culture during your interview. Also ask about flexibility in the organization.
How do you recruit employees? And volunteers?
We recruit employees online through our sister company (JFG). We solely do volunteer recruiting via online channels and get 2000-3,000 volunteer registrations each year.
Please share a story of a time a candidate stood out to you. What did they do to set themselves apart?
We are currently recruiting for marketing position- graphic design. There was a candidate who was an architect who came in for an interview. The best thing was her attitude towards the social sector. She wants to bring change and do something different. To me, she was setting herself apart from other people who came for the interview. She was confident about the role with a smile and it’s good to smile during your interview and show enthusiasm- it helps out your interviewer with tension they might have throughout their day.
What’s a common mistake you see among job seekers?
One of the common mistake I notice always is their mail. They fail to write about the opportunity they are applying for and also their motivation for that opportunity.
Do you research candidates on social media?
Yes, I do. You come to know their work and also if you have mutual connections. That helps you analyze the candidate more.
What aspects of the job search do candidates focus on that aren’t really that important to you?
Most of their focus is on what to include on the CV and when we are interviewing someone we are not looking at it. We are looking at them as individuals and trying to assess what they are going to do for the organization, how they will help. Also, if it’s a person who is very introverted, I would try to see the qualities they are going to be in the organization. You need to balance the organization with skills - both what introverts and extroverts bring.
What do you expect to see from a new hire 30 days after employment? 3 months? 1 year?
After 30 days, they should know all about the organization and also their colleagues. At the three-month mark, they should clearly know their responsibilities and work. Once they’ve been working with us for one year, they should be able to lead someone and hire someone at the level they were at a year prior. If we recruit someone new, they should be able to teach and lead that person.
At your organization, what is more important for a candidate to have, passion or skill?
They go side by side. If you have passion, you can get whatever skills you want. If you have the skillset in you, someone will help you get to do what you are passionate about.
What misconceptions do people have about your cause area?
At iVolunteer, we help mobilize people, help them understand how volunteering and pro bono work can change the life of an organization. For us the main charity is your skill and time for an organization.
What roles are the hardest to fill in your organization and why?
Every role is hard, everyone at the organization supports each other so if anyone leaves it is very difficult to find a replacement. But one more thing I have learned is that the organization is run by the employees, if one goes, someone else takes his place. If I am leaving today there will be someone to take my place, it will never have a marketing role empty.
Marketing roles are difficult to fill, especially the role of Manager. In this role, you need to have the skills for everything- you must understand design, strategy, and the content. All of these three things go hand-in-hand.
Thank you for speaking with me today- anything else you’d like to share about your organization?
We are conducting research on how people of India think about volunteering. Also, we are currently working on the iVolunteer awards and are kickstarting their fifth year soon. We love recognizing volunteers and run a campaign all over India.
By Victoria Crispo