Target Your Search
If you are sure that you want to work in development, it’s time to think about focusing your approach. While you may feel that you do not want to reduce your opportunities for finding a job by targeting your search, you are likely to have a much better success rate if you specialize.
What role are you keen on?
- Like any industry, in development, there are opportunities for many different job types: e.g. accountants, managers, administrators etc.
Do you know which type of development you are interested in?
- Read about the different types of development work
Do you know what kind of organization you are interested in working for?
- Read about the different types of development organizations
Increase Your Employability
Save yourself time and energy and increase your success by being strategic in your job hunting. There are a number of areas you can work on to make yourself much more attractive to hirers. Furthermore, being properly prepared before you start a development position is incredibly important if you want to be effective, and just wanting to help is not enough!
Find Out What They’re Looking For
If you don’t know what your target organizations are looking for, you stand next to know chance. The more you can find out about what they deem desirable, the better your results will be. The easiest way to do this is to read and breakdown job advertisements. However, even better, is to request an informational interview - ideally in person rather than by phone.
Becoming a volunteer or intern is the best way to gain relevant, practical experience. You will also increase your knowledge and skills as you apply yourself to real world problems. It will also signal that you are serious about getting into development, as you have sacrificed financial gain to become involved.
Increase Your Knowledge
Having an understanding of development best practice is crucial to be effective in any development related job.
We recommend that you have at least a basic knowledge of the history of development. Knowing the origins of development will help you to understand the context of current development.
- Take part in the discussion section of this website.
- Read articles posted on development blogs and websites
- Go on a training course
- Get a Masters degree
Develop Your Hard Skills
Hard skills relate to the technical expertise to get the job done. Generally these skills can be easily taught and are normally used by employers as the basis for writing minimum job requirements, e.g. “ability to speak fluent French”.
Strengthen Your Soft Skills
Often called people or interpersonal skills, these are the skills which are less tangible and often associated with personality. E.g. the ability to communicate, leadership ability, teamworking skills. In job advertisements, you can identify soft skills by phrases that are hard to quantify, e.g. “ability to work efficiently under pressure”. Don’t underestimate the importance of these soft skills, as it is often said that while hard skills can help you make an interview shortlist, the soft skills are what can get you the job.
Build Your Network
Knowing the right people is often the easiest way to find a job. As your career progresses, your network will naturally expand, but it can be hard at first to break into the social circle.
How to Find the Jobs
Here we cover some strategies for actually finding and applying for international development work.
The Job Boards
Unsurprisingly, a lot of jobs are posted on the Internet. They can be posted on job websites (which this is not incidentally) or only on the website(s) of the organization or on both. Check out our list of major job websites and you also may want to take a look at smaller and niche job opportunities. Sometimes it’s easier to get the jobs delivered to your email or RSS feed.
That takes care of the public job market. But what about the other 80% or so of jobs that aren’t advertised? If anything due to the often informal nature of the sector, development jobs are less advertised than other industries.
You do know about those don’t you? To get at this hidden job market, you have to network. Shudder. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but really there is still no way to get around the fact that humans like some face-to-face. Volunteering or becoming an intern is a great way to network in an organization, and you will also come into contact with others working in development.