Devex international development career fair 'goes local'

While job boards, online communities and social media make it easier than ever for job seekers to connect with potential employers, there is nothing that can replace meeting someone face to face.

It is during these more personal interactions we are able to show who we are behind the CV or job description, make connections with real people and build relationships that, if fostered, can help create that network of professionals everyone says you must have to advance your career.

In addition to providing an online platform for job candidates and employers to connect, Devex has hosted career fairs in New York, Washington, London and Brussels to help job seekers and employers make these more personal introductions.

Traditionally, our career fairs have been held in “hot spots” for development work, global hubs with both the development organizations and development professional they want to hire. But this is changing. Increasingly donors are pushing – or requiring – their implementing partners to “go local.”

The benefits of hiring locally are plentiful. First and foremost, it is more cost-effective. Expats with Western salaries and benefit packages are expensive. Many aid programs’ budgets can be eaten up by the expat salaries alone. Local ownership is another reason. In many countries, there are professionals with the leadership and technical skills required by these programs who not only command lower salaries, but also understand their country, systems, people and needs better than any expat can. Global development is about building capacity, so rather than investing in expats who will likely leave the country once their contract is up, it is wise to invest in training and resources in local professionals who will be there for the long haul.

While the case for hiring locals is clear, it isn’t always easy.

Some countries – particularly those embroiled in decades of conflict – simply do not have the human resources to provide a qualified labor pool for development programs. Donor requirements such as specific, Western-centric education credentials or previous donor experience can eliminate otherwise qualified candidates from consideration. Hiring norms and standards can vary across countries including where candidates look for jobs, how they apply and how they format their CVs. Employers not familiar with the local hiring context, and locals not familiar with the typically Western-style of hiring, often find it hard to connect.

So to help address these challenges, Devex is excited to announce we are taking our popular career fair to the developing world and holding our first International Development Partnership Forum and Career Fair in Nairobi this fall.

Because the notion of “going local” can both mean hiring local candidates as well as partnering with local organizations, this will be a two-day event designed to bring together international development actors with local and regional professionals to foster dialogue and engagement. The first day will be a forum for leaders of international NGOs, consulting firms and donor agencies along with their counterparts from local and regional organizations.

The second day will be a traditional career fair, bringing together 30+ international development employers with 300+ international development professionals. The day will commence with a high-level panel discussing the trend of hiring locals and tips for professionals looking to broaden their career opportunities with international development agencies working in the region. Afterward, attendees will have the chance to meet representatives from more than 30 international development groups and visit their booths. We will close the day with a networking reception, allowing attendees and recruiters to mix and mingle in a more relaxed setting.

To make it a fruitful event for everyone, professionals must apply to attend the event. Professionals with more than seven years’ experience working in international development will be considered, and we’ll make sure there is a well-rounded group representing the functional, sectoral and technical skills the exhibiting organizations seek. Kenyans, expats residing in the area as well as professionals from around the region may attend.

To learn more about this event and to apply, please visit out our website with all the details. We hope to hold more events like these in other places around the world in the future. If there is somewhere you would like to see Devex career fairs “go local,” please leave us a comment below.

Learn more and sign up to attend or exhibit at the Devex 2013 Partnerships Forum & Career Fair in Nairobi.

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About the author

  • Warren kate 1

    Kate Warren

    Kate Warren is Executive Vice President and resident talent and careers guru at Devex. With 15 years of global development recruitment experience advising international NGOs, consulting firms, and donor agencies, she has a finger on the pulse of hiring trends across the industry and insider knowledge on what it takes to break in.