User:Sue Gardner/Hiring Q and A

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FAQ on Hiring Staff

At the chapters meeting in Berlin today, there was a good discussion about hiring staff. Quite a few chapters are planning to hire staff in the coming year, and several chapters (as well as the Wikimedia Foundation) have experiences worth sharing with people about to hire for the first time. The purpose of this page is to create a space where chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation can share information about hiring: what works in the Wikimedia movement. Feel free to post questions and answers here.

Q: If a chapter wants to hire an experienced manager (Executive Director or CEO), how should it go about doing that?

A: Hiring an experienced manager is hard, and you'll definitely need help to do it well. The Wikimedia Foundation has had good success using executive search firms for recruiting senior positions: they are expensive, but they do a really good job. They can help you think about what kind of person you need (skills, background, style) and write the position description, and they will help you screen applicants, check references, and conduct other diligence. They will also keep the process moving, which is important, because it can be difficult for volunteer board members to dedicate the time to ensure the work of hiring gets done.

Here are two internationally known recruitment firms that you might consider using for a very significant position. They are very expensive, but their work is good.

Q: Is it best to hire a Wikimedian, or an external person?

A: This is a complicated question and there's no one single answert hat will work for all situation. In general though, the Wikimedia Foundation has found that it's easier to hire non-Wikimedians for positions that are less specific to Wikimedia (transferable/portable skills) such as accounting roles, administration roles, PR, events management, and so forth. Even those people though, will have a significant learning curve, and will need lots of orientation and support in their first months with the organization. For more Wikimedia-specific roles such as community work, it is more important to have Wikimedia experience. If you are hiring for a short-term role, you might want to bias towards hiring a Wikimedian, because they will need less orientation, which means they'll be able to be productive more quickly.