Skip to main content

International Development: Application Tips

a guide to careers in international development, human rights and international organisations

International Development

Tips for Applying

How to get work in this sector

Personality & Skills

  • A passion for development
  • Field experience in developing countries is a prerequisite for career development
  • Evidence of an international mindset, demonstrated by travel, studying or living abroad
  • Fluency in two or more languages
  • Design, monitoring and evaluation of development projects all require a combination of quantitative and qualitative analytical skills
  • Project management skills
  • Technical depth or technical focus
  • Flexibility, curiosity, resourcefulness

From Harvard Kennedy School's International Development Gateway (pdf)

Skills in Demand

Good will is not enough, so look at getting the skills that organisations need:

  • Technical knowledge is highly prized. Qualifications/experience in health (medicine, nutrition, speech therapy), finance and economics, engineering, environmental management and IT can make a real difference to development work at a local level
  • Learn a language. French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian and Mandarin would be useful for intergovernmental organisations and NGOs. Or a proven facility for picking up languages
  • Specialise. Work out what you want to do and start building your qualifications/experience in this area. It will give your applications more focus

Blog Watch

Following news about the sector can help you prepare for interviews

CVs and Applications

How to get that International Development Job

Regina Starr Ridley talks about the things she looks for in a candidate.

In terms of work experience, having international volunteering experience is not as important as being able to show a good work ethic.


Eldis Latest Research

The latest policy, practice and research in development from Eldis, an IDS knowledge service:

Loading ...

Further Help

ReliefWeb: Headlines

Loading ...

The Guardian: Global Development News

Loading ...

AlertNet: News

Loading ...