Why did you apply for a job with Seefar?
- I wasn’t looking for a job but was intrigued by the possibility to work from home while still maintaining a position relevant to my skills in organisational development. Honestly, I am quite surprised that Seefar (Farsight at the time) was not on my radar. It felt like a gamble joining what then seemed like a new organisation. At the same time, I wanted to feel part of a growing organisation and take part in decision-making and have a say on important issues as we grew.
- I was looking for an international opportunity as I had done in the past. I was also looking to work in a multicultural/multilingual environment, as well as one which had an interesting research component.
What was your experience of Seefar's recruitment process?
- I really liked the way the vacancy was written, it seemed that Seefar was open, flexible and very different from other organisations working in the same field – in a positive way. I was impressed and surprised at the thought that had clearly gone into the recruitment process – it made me feel like they took finding the right people seriously. There was a lot of information on the role, the organisation and how it works, and the recruitment process itself. I liked that it seemed rigorous and thorough.
- For me, the process actually seemed a little too rigorous. After the first interview, I was not sure how I had done. Everyone was friendly and supportive but I thought they were just trying to build suspense. No one asked about my education or technical skills in the first interview. It was all about my values and experiences. Obviously it worked in the end, but I was quite surprised by that unorthodox approach.
What is the most surprising thing about working at Seefar?
- How fast it’s grown. And how organised it is even though your team is spread so far around the world and constantly growing.
- Given that the majority of us work remotely, there is a great sense of team and common purpose. Every time we meet up in person, it’s clear that our bond is really strong.
- All the values talk is actually backed by action. My goodness, do I remember looking through the Seefar website and thinking: these people are really obsessed about their values. But the team spirit and willingness to go the extra mile to do great things are all enshrined in Seefar’s work philosophy that builds on the value statement. It really outlines how we as an organisation can achieve disproportionate impact. Super motivating.
Which Seefar benefits do you enjoy the most?
- No commute and unlimited recreational leave! Need I say more? Provided you coordinate it internally and still achieve in your role, Seefar’s recruitment model means that you can take as much leave as you think you can manage provided you are delivering. I have never experienced this before. On the contrary, most organisations expect you to go the extra mile while only giving a statutory amount of leave, they seem to treat leave management as managing a fear of laziness, rather than a something that supports performance, autonomy and a kind of work-life balance.
- Designing your own work! Seefar’s focus on social impact means that in addition to lots of autonomy, you can also design and work on your own project ideas and have them funded by Seefar. This kind of learning, exploration and investment in flexibility really reflects Seefar’s values.
What have people said to you about your work at Seefar?
- A team member in West Africa said after we wrapped the project: “Before working with Seefar I had no idea about modern slavery and domestic servitude. Now I want to continue working with victims and raise awareness about this issue in my country. It really opened my eyes”. Work is more motivating when we see that the purpose of what we’re aiming for doesn’t finish just because the project finishes.
- My spouse has commented a lot ranging from “Ah, you’re ‘working'” – when I was working from the garden – to “I can’t understand how you are doing such good things just from your computer at home. Kinda incredible.”
How do you manage remote work?
- A first thing to note is that a lot of management and technical expertise is provided remotely, while most project delivery obviously has to happen close to beneficiaries.
- There seem to be many misconceptions about remote work. In the beginning, I had to help my family and friends understand that while I work from home, I am not just chilling and surfing the web. Seefar is set up with web application tools that make it easy to work from anywhere as long as there is a reliable internet connection. Nowadays, that is almost everywhere- you could work from a beach in Thailand. Perhaps the most challenging thing about working remotely is coordinating meetings with colleagues across multiple timezones. You could go months working with someone in the organisation without meeting them in person! But when you do you feel like you know them really well from all the Skype chats. It also helps that we travel to get together a lot.
- If you have never worked remotely before, there are a few challenges. The best advice I got was not to work from my bedroom, to define strict office hours for myself, develop a strategy to avoid distractions and communicate constantly with my colleagues.
- In my previous job, I had the option to take home-office days. That meant that I worked from home three days a week and came to the office the other two. I thought that Seefar would have a similar arrangement but it does not – exceptions being Afghanistan and Indonesia. For better or worse, you literally work from wherever you like. I have had meetings with colleagues sitting in their garden in Kenya, a shared office in Belgium or the patio in Australia and, personally, like working from the kitchen in close proximity to coffee.
How would you characterize your work travel at Seefar?
- Travel is definitely one of the perks of working at Seefar. In my team the amount of travel you do really depends on the role you have and your willingness to travel. My role requires me to travel about 45 days a year. This includes traveling to meet up as teams and as an organisation several times a year. In different places each time. Others in my team have more or minimal travel requirements. It was made clear to me in the job ad and in the interview how much travel my role would require but I think they are also dependent on how much you would like to travel.
- It’s exciting to travel the world working on important issues. For me, the trips to Seefar meetups are enough though. I have logged 8 days this year and that is absolutely fine and sufficient for me.
- Seefar implements projects in conflict affected and developing countries. That’s where the most vulnerable people in the world are. That means that sometimes I travel to these dangerous areas where we are implementing projects. I would say it’s only select foreign national personnel traveling to these areas and it is always voluntarily. Though potentially volatile, I always feel supported and my safety well managed.
In hindsight, what advice would have been useful when you considered a job with Seefar?
- The positive features of Seefar’s work environment and culture listed in the job ad are true. You should look forward to those.
- The negative features of Seefar’s work environment and culture listed in the job ad are true. You should prepare yourself for them and make sure you understand them before you apply.
How do you know you are recruiting the right person?
- We select people for the first interview based on our assessment of how well their CV and application matches the skills and experience we need for that role. Then in the first interview we ignore that and try to evaluate if our values align with the candidate’s. We might also use quizzes, tests and tasks that we inform the candidates about beforehand. We then shortlist down to two or three final candidates, and interview their references. After that, things get really interesting when we use everything we have learnt about a candidate to tailor a second and final interview that allows a more in-depth exploration of technical skills and organisational fit. It’s really important to us that the person we hire is a good fit and we are all aware of their strengths and weaknesses, while at the same time the candidate gets a clear understanding of the role and Seefar.
- There really is not one formula of people we are looking for. Generally, someone who is committed to social impact and interested in tackling the hard challenges that come with it, loves to be challenged, likes to do things differently, likes to be busy, likes to accomplish hard things, is smart, likes to travel, feels comfortable challenging and being challenged, and enjoys both teamwork and autonomy will thrive at Seefar.
What advice would you give to someone before an interview at Seefar?
- Relax – you have made it to the first interview. We often get hundreds of applications for each job so you have already done well. The two people interviewing you will support you and help you to do your best in the interview. A lot of interviews are conducted using Skype video. Dress smartly but not overly formal.
- Know what you are and aren’t looking for in a job. Be prepared to be self-reflective, for example about positive and negative experiences you have had at other organisations and in other roles, and really honest. You’ll find we value honesty, learning and an objective assessment of yourself and your experiences more than language that is focused on selling yourself.
- Take a deep breath and a few minutes to prepare your answers to questions in the interview. We prefer a thoughtful answer over talking for a long time without actually answering the question – it happens a lot!
What are the positive features of Seefar’s work environment and culture?
- The organisation combines entrepreneurialism with a focus on social impact.
- You work with highly diverse people and across a diversity of contexts.
- There is a high level of trust that supports you to work autonomously.
- The people in the organisation encourage innovation and experimentation.
- Achieving results is prioritised over rigid structures and workflows.
- You are never bored and always challenged.
What are the negative features of Seefar’s work environment and culture?
- Collaborating with geographically dispersed teams requires flexibility and patience.
- Working remotely can make you feel isolated and so requires you to invest time in communication.
- Travel schedules can sometimes be heavy.
- A high-growth phase means problem-solving as the organisation’s systems evolve quickly.
- It is a fast paced work environment so productivity and prioritisation skills are essential.