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 in a favorable light.  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 first-line recruiters, the Hiring Agent and even the CEO of the firm.

There are six items that are critical to recruiters in order to allow them to evaluate how a consultant matches the qualifications requirements needed for a desired position.  These critical items include:

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

These can be easily shown in the bold headings of each professional entry for quick viewing by recruiters and hiring agents.
Chronological format resumes should have the most recent experience listed first and end with older experiences.  In the International Development sector, hiring agents also prefer longer and detailed resumes that show a chronology of projects – especially those in developing countries – that the applicant has worked on.

Resumes organized by functional area 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 or less.  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 a prospect we need, at a minimum, the following basic information on your past international development projects or work projects:

  • Dates and Length of Assignment: This can be exact dates or more simply: Jan 09-June 09 or 2009 (6 months). Please do not use a single year 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 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 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 assignments and in one or more countries or in specific regions; 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 organizations 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 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 available for various types of assignments or jobs, on my website at www.internationalink.net.  This 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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