Submissions/Headhunting of volunteers

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Headhunting of volunteers
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
Kiril Simeonovski
E-mail address
Kiril Simeonovski
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Shared Knowledge
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The term 'headhunting' refers to the process of recruiting people on executive or specliased positions. Some people wrongly equate the term with 'recruitment' but, in fact, the two have different meaning and the latter describes the general process of recruiting people, especially on lower positions. In other words, recruitment is the process where managers select suitable candidates for jobs within the organisation, while headhunting is the process where managers are those who are selected for the executive positions. Different techniques with fairly efficient results can be implemented in the process of recruitment but they are unable of completely eliminating the problems of inefficient candidate screening and information asymmetry. Considering the differences in responsibilities and the level of decision-making, the negative effects from these problems have much greater impact if they are associated with people on managerial positions. That said, the process of headhunting involves application of superior techniques which are more costly and time-consuming than those applied in the simple recruitment but are also more efficient in candidate screening and can mitigate the problem of information asymmetry.

In the context of the volunteer-driven Wikimedia movement, headhuntng would be associated with the activity of any affiliated organisation towards attracting volunteers to manage and coordinate mission-aligned projects, programmes and events. Since the process is implemented in a volunteer environment and given the characteristics of the Wikimedia movement, it differs significantly from the one used in the corporate sectors and even from those used in the other volunteer environments. First, note that volunteers are not people who are compensated for their time and efforts in monetary means. This implies that headhunting of volunteers should not focus strictly on the selection of candidates but also on finding people who are interested to join voluntarily. Second, the scope of headhunting is not limited to people already involved in the Wikimedia movement but also to outsiders. For instance, an experienced Wikimedian would better suit as a manager of a community-related project because of his knowledge and understanding of the community and its needs; on the other hand, the Wikimedian experience has much less relevance than the knowledge of external relations and collaborating with institutions in searching for a manager of a GLAM project. Importantly, outsiders are people who always bring additional value to the movement because they transfer their time and efforts invested outside it. Conversely, active people within the movement are people who usually do not bring additional value to it because they transfer their time and efforts invested from one to another activity inside it. Third, once the volunteers are headhunted, it is important to ensure that they can adapt to the organisational environment, especially if there is paid staff, and to the community. Mreover, the members of the organisation and the community have to accept the newly introduced members as well. For that reason, it is necessary to develop strategies for retaining volunteers and matching them accordingly with the paid employees.

The main goal of this presentation is to explain the process of headhunting of volunteers and its main aspects in relation with the Wikimedia movement with the example of its implementation in Shared Knowldge. It also aims at answering the following questions:

  1. What are the best techniques for headhunting?
  2. Where should volunteers be headhunted?
  3. What is the added value that the outsiders bring to the Wikimedia movement?
  4. How to match volunteers with paid staff?
  5. How to retain the headhunted volunteers on a long-term?
WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

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