How SOS Children Villages quickly deployed an Emergency Response Team (ERT) for Ukraine

Executive Sourcing - the power of using a vendor with sector expertise

During spring 2022, SOS Children’s Villages (SOS CVI) reached out to Impactpool for support with the establishment of an Emergency Response Team (ERT) in Ukraine.

SOS CVI and Impactpool have a long history of working together on innovative HR tech solutions, Executive Search, and strategic outreach and sourcing projects.

The ERT would support children and families in SOS Children's Villages programs, as well as the many thousands of children in foster care, kinship care, boarding schools, and residential institutions.

All in all, Impactpool supported SOS CVI to recruit the first seven staff on the ground, and all seven were found in Impactpool's wide network of Ukraine nationals.

The project showcases how a relevant talent pool is key to the quick deployment of an ERT (learn how ICRC uses a sourcing pool to shorten its recruitment timeline).

Just a few weeks into the war the first meeting took place between SOS and Impactpool. SOS CVI was very committed, which eventually resulted in the extremely quick deployment of their ERT in Ukraine. To support SOS CVI, Impactpool assigned an experienced Search team that had previously worked with Surge and ERT recruitments.

How SOS CVI quickly deployed an ERT in Ukraine without a Surge roster in place

An on-call surge roster is the most common way to deploy quickly, but SOS CVI didn't have a surge roster, they had to start building the ERT from scratch.

Recruiting an ERT is stressful. Time is precious, staff on the ground saves lives. The organization's leadership is in the spotlight to deliver quickly, and stress spreads in the organization.

During stress, a clear plan is critical. Our first step was to define the Ukraine ERT recruitment plan.

Even while working under stress, don't cut corners. Make sure to establish a solid and detailed plan. Include Budget, Timeline, Job Descriptions, Selection Criteria, Sourcing Strategy, Assessment methods, an Onboarding plan etc. For SOS CVI they also had to work out a plan for visa, security arrangements, insurance, and compensation packages.

The compensation package must be defined upfront, you lose time later if the compensation package is refused by a selected candidate at a final stage in the process. If you seek experts prepared to take high risks, don't be cheap on your compensation package or contract modality.

At this stage, it was critical to decide whether the jobs should be open to Ukrainian nationals only or to other nationalities too. Too narrow scopes increase both risks of a longer recruitment process and of higher sourcing and outreach budget.

Based on the objectives, SOS CVI created an organizational chart. When establishing a new office (or new ERT), always start the recruitment from the top (management) and down.

SOS CVI identified seven key roles (listed below) that we recruited in the first batch.

  • Safety & Security Advisor 

  • Child Protection in Emergencies Advisor

  • Accountability and Safeguarding Advisor

  • MHPSS Specialist

  • Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) Specialist

  • M & E Officer

  • Finance Officer 

  • Logistics Officer 

Lock the Job description (JD) before publishing

Before publishing the job advertisements, lock the JDs. A locked JD means that the requirements are set, with no changes allowed after it has been published.

Even if you need a few more internal meetings and may have to wait a few extra days to publish, a well-thought-through and locked JD will save you both costs and time.

Decide a recruitment persona and invest money in effective outreach

Before the advert was circulated, together we decide on a unique recruitment persona for each job role. To target the right audience it is important to have a clear understanding of the compensation package and a clear understanding of the job requirements.

For this stage a detailed recruitment plan and a locked JD are key. In the first list of requirements, all candidates had to be Ukrainians. But in a crisis situation, external factors may change quickly.

  • The EU opened up for Ukrainian nationals to work in the EU, and that also made it easier to EU citizens to work and travel into Ukraine.

  • The Ukrainian leadership communicated their conscription rules for Ukrainian men, which more or less limited our Ukrainian candidate sourcing pool to women.

Given the change in opportunities to travel into Ukraine and the narrowed scope of the conscription rule, SOS CVI decided to target both Ukrainian nationals and International (EU) candidates and place the staff in the local office where it was administratively easiest to start working.

Our candidate persona included the skills and experiences of an ideal candidate. It included professional background, job titles, education level, nationality, languages, and hard-ship experience. Also, it was critical to define the preferred country experience and the preferred experience from other similar organizations.

The outreach and communication strategy included sample messaging and sample articles and budgets for each outreach channel.

The most important channel is Impactpool's own talent network. To reach our own network we work with articles and news, we search prioritized job ads and we search our own pool and contact matching profiles. Below is a view of how such a search could look like. These candidates were contacted with a personal message.

Other relevant channels where social media networks, such as LinkedIn and Meta.

Impactpool handled all applications for SOS CVI, to get all necessary candidate information in a seamless manner we use a modern CV parser. The candidate just upload a CV and our algorithm parse the content and populate the whole application (learn more about other organizations using Impactpool recruit in a similar context).

Shortlists where prepared and pre-interviews undertaken by Impactpool. Assessed and recommended candidates where forwarded to SOS CVI for final interviews and compensation negotiation.

Before offer, Impactpool conducted background checks on each recommended candidate.

Within two months time from project commencement, all seven candidates were identified, assessed, background checked, and started.

Are you interested in learning more about this specific project or discuss any recruitment initiative. please fill in the contact form below and a Search consultant will reach out.