New graduates throw their caps in the air. Photo by: Visha Angelova / CC BY-SA

May marks graduation and the newest group of individuals looking to launch or further their careers in international development. In between studying for finals, defending a thesis and sending out commencement invitations, here are six things soon-to-be grads should do right now.

1. Get your CV in order

Particularly if it’s their first entry into the job market, many students do not have a well-crafted CV ready. Resumes used for campus jobs or internships aren’t likely to cut it when entering the competitive global development marketplace, so now is the time to make sure your hard-earned skills and experience are organized into a compelling CV that will help you score an interview.

If you’re transitioning from another industry, what you did in the past may not apply in an international development setting. Use this free CV template to get started and check out this webinar on how to craft a global development CV.

2. Clean up your social media presence

Employers are using social media not only to engage with potential candidates, but also to do a little background research on those applicants they’re considering. If you have anything on various social media platforms you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, make sure you restrict access with the appropriate privacy settings.

Unprofessional images or comments can absolutely impact an employer’s hiring decision, and not taking advantage of appropriate privacy settings can be a bigger red flag than the questionable content itself, demonstrating a lack of sound judgment.

Watch this video for a few global development recruiters’ tips on using social media to get a job and read this advice on how to manage your social media presence online.

3. Set up informational interviews

Getting your foot in the door for an international development career is no easy task. A majority of jobs require a significant amount of experience, and there are certainly more candidates than entry-level positions. Competition is fierce and it can be hard to get noticed.

Stand out by reaching out for informational interviews. They’re not only a great way to learn more about the industry, available career paths and to practice your interview skills, but they also help you build a network of experienced professionals that can give you an edge in the job search. Read these tips on how to ask for an informational interview and make the most of the opportunity.

Tip: If you have a Devex career account, you can access employer profiles, including contact details, on more than 16,000 organizations worldwide to identify potential employers you may want to approach.

4. Secure references

Most organizations check references before making a job offer. If you’re just starting out in your career without a lot of work experience, references can become even more important to an employer’s hiring decision.

If some of your references include professors or supervisors from internships or part-time jobs you will soon be leaving, make sure to confirm with them before you depart; they could be harder to track down later.

Read these tips on who you should include on your reference list.

5.     Practice interviewing

If you’re new to the job market or have been out of it for a while, the idea of interviewing may be terrifying. Informational interviews are one great way to get experience in a less stressful setting, but consider testing your skills with a friend or relative first.

Practice how to answer these 10 common recruiter questions and prepare these 20 questions aid workers may ask in a job interview. You could even role-play how to handle these five classic recruiter personas you may run across. While some people are naturally better interviewers than others, interviewing well is a skill you can develop.

Many organizations now use video interviewing software for conducting initial interviews. Here are some tips for acing an online, video interview.

6. Take a break, but not for too long

You’ve worked hard toward your degree and may be looking forward to a well-deserved break before entering the workforce, where vacation days are finite. Take one. But don’t delay your job search for too long. Hiring often tapers off at the end of the summer when a lot of the office is out on vacation or positions have already been filled with eager recent grads.

If you start applying to jobs now, make sure you will be around for interviews and available to start when needed. If you are backpacking through Southeast Asia, employers are unlikely to wait around for you.

Looking to make a career move? Visit our career center for expert advice on how to navigate your job search - all you need is a Devex Career Account to get started.

This article was last updated on 14 November 2017

About the author

  • 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.