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How to Have a Better Resume for International Development Job Applications

May 25, 2015 | By | Reply More
This is a guest post from Linda Aines, well experienced independent recruiter at Aines International.

Better aid worker resume

I have been asked to write an article about how to have a better resume for applications within the International Development sector. I have written this article many times as I very much like to share what is important and critical information that applicants must show in their CV when applying to help recruiters review them favorably.

As a first-line recruiter, we often have to pre-qualify applicants before passing them on to the Hiring Agents. Among the most important elements of applying for a position with a firm in the international development sector, is to present a CV/resume that is easy to review for everyone in the organization you are applying to.  The reviewers include the first-line recruiters, the Hiring Agent and all the way to the CEO of the firm.

There are six items that are critical to recruiters in order to enable them to evaluate how a consultant matches the qualifications requirements needed for a position.

These critical items include:

  1. Length of assignments.
  2. Positions held.
  3. Type of project.
  4. Employer organizations.
  5. Donor organizations.
  6. Country where they worked.

These can be easily be shown in the bold headings of each professional entries for fast viewing by recruiters and hiring agents.

Chronological format resumes should have the most recent experience and end with oldest experience.  In the International Development sector, hiring agents also prefer the longer more detailed resumes that show a chronology of the projects – especially those in developing countries – that the applicant has worked on.

Resumes organized by functional areas or separated into sections according to type of assignments, or specialty areas, are not recommended as they make it more difficult for reviewers to find the information they need to qualify the applicants.  It is often said that a recruiter will scan your CV in 30 seconds – I disagree about the 30 seconds, but one minute or two is realistic for the first review to see if applicants are within the qualifications requirements.

The employer/client for most positions request that we qualify applicants in terms of their past international development assignments/projects, length of assignments, positions held, type of project, employer & donor organizations, and country where they worked. I often return documents to applicants and request that they revise their CV/resume when the items below are missing or not clearly marked or found.  It is also advisable to keep this critical information permanently in a resume that you will submit to any other international development sector organization in the future.

To fairly evaluate you we need, at minimum, the following basic information on your past international development projects or work projects:

  • Dates/Length of Assignment: This can be exact dates or more simply: Jan 09-June 09 or 2009 (6 months). Please do not use single year only like 2009 which does not tell us how long you were on assignment in a given country or region.
  • Title: Show any title used while on assignment which may be an official or unofficial title.
  • Project name: It is helpful for us to see what type of project you worked on and providing the official name or type of donor funded project you worked on will help recruiters or hiring agents know more about the relevance of your past experience.
  • Employer: Provide the name of the consulting firm, company or international NGO (usually a contractor to a Donor organization) that hired, monitored and paid you.
  • Donor (if applicable): Provide the name of the organization that provided funds to your employer for the project. Examples: USAID, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, EU, DFID.
  • Country location: Please, please, please provide the name of the country where you worked and resided while on assignment for a given project.  If you were in more than one country, please do separate work/experience entries by location. (Please do not provide the address of your employer, we usually know it or can find it on the internet and it could be confused with your country location.)   This refers to the applicants physical location while doing this work.

Many positions in International Development require past experience in multiple assignment and in one or more countries or in specific region and this is very critical information to recruiters.  Imagine their frustration, when it is not provided or when they have to struggle to determine the country, because only a province or region has been given.

In the US, most International Development sector organization seem to prefer the longer, more detailed, chronological format resumes.  This is quite different than the short one-page resumes that businesses in the private sector prefer.  Before applying to international organizations, one should make sure that the CV/resume is internationalized. Countries should be shown in all contact information, including educational entries and professional work entries.

This very critical information should be in the main line of each professional work entry in your resume. To help you further, we invite you to view a sample resume, showing a variety of entries is available for various types of assignments or jobs, on my website, The sample is not meant to be copied exactly but is simply intended to give ideas on how to present the various types of experience an applicant might have.

I hope this article has been helpful to you and I assure you that if you put some of the above in practice, it will be helpful in getting you to be interviewed by that elusive hiring agent and on your way to your preferred assignments.


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Category: Blog, Working in International Developmnet

Linda Aines

About the Author ()

Linda Aines is an independent recruiter that specializes in International Development and foreign projects.  Her clientele are US contractors to USAID, ADB, DFID, or contractors to other large Donor organizations,  or other govt entities that receive funding and  implement projects in various countries…all are in the International Development sector.  They sub-contract with  Aines International to find experts or specialists they need and to reach out to Aines’ networks which now stretch across the globe.

Aines International is now offering a resume reformatting service.  (For those who want it, a small prepaid fee of $230 will be charged, via PayPal or similar Quick Pay system.)  However, Aines still encourages anyone to reformat their own CV for free and to avail themselves of the  advice  that is freely given about CV/Resumes on the Aines International website.  To obtain the resume reformatting, just send an email to and request the service.