Finding a new job requires a strategic approach, particularly in the uber-competitive world of global development. Photo by: rawpixel

A common complaint from jobseekers is, “I’ve applied to over 100 jobs but I’m still not getting anywhere. What am I doing wrong?” Conducting a successful job search takes more than reading job boards and sending out resumes.

When it comes to a job search, quantity is definitely not better than quality. And it’s not just about “who you know” either — although that does help.

Finding a new job requires a strategic approach, particularly in the uber competitive world of global development. Here are three ingredients to conducting a job search the right way.

1. Brand and optimize your expertise.

Before a company puts a product on the market, they need to know what they are selling and why people should buy it. The job market works the same way. Often, jobseekers are more focused on what a new job could offer them without first thinking about what they can offer the job.

From your CV to your online profiles to your elevator pitch, you need to tell the story of who you are and what value you can add to an organization. Your message needs to be easily understood by both experts in your field and those who may not be as familiar — for example, junior level recruiters who often do a first round of applicant screening.

Just as major brands are consistent in their messaging across platforms, how you present yourself in your CV, on social media, and in online profiles should be consistent.

An excerpt of “Your 60 minute guide to a stand-out global development CV.” Career Account members can watch the full recording here.

Being intentional about your personal brand is a good exercise to identify, understand and communicate your core strengths. It also helps you focus on the employers and jobs that best suit your expertise and makes it easier for them to find you. Because, recruiters don’t always post jobs for various reasons — for example, they are under a time crunch, or they don’t want to signal to a competitor they are bidding on a specific project. So many recruiters will do a proactive search of candidates before making their opportunity public.

Many recruiters also have a bias toward what are commonly referred to as “passive candidates,” meaning potential hires who are not actively seeking a new job. The thinking is, the very top candidates are currently high performers, well rewarded in their current position. They don’t need to seek out new opportunities; opportunities find them.

To help recruiters find you, your Devex profile should:

1. Be completely filled out, particularly the fields most popular with recruiters to filter candidates.

2. Include a photo: Research shows people trust professional information online more when they see a real person is attached.

3. Have a compelling headline: Make sure you use keywords strategically. For example, instead of “Independent Consultant” use “Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Expert.”

4. Have a succinct, keyword rich professional summary.

5. Include your most recent CV uploaded.

So, you want to make sure you are visible in the places recruiters look for passive candidates. For example, thousands of global development recruiters search the Devex people database to help find talent. Optimize your profile by using the right keywords and completing fields recruiters will use to filter candidates.

Some of the most popular search filters recruiters use are years of experience, level of education, current location, nationality and languages. If you don’t fill out these areas of your profile, they may not be able to find you to offer you that dream job that isn’t yet posted anywhere.

2.   Identify jobs and employers.

Once you have your marketing assets in place — a well written CV, online profiles, and a plan to clearly articulate your strengths and value — you can start seeking out specific jobs and employers.

This, however, doesn’t mean applying to every job you see posted. A good rule of thumb for deciding which jobs to apply to is the 80 percent rule. If you meet at least 80 percent of the stated requirements for the job, go ahead and apply. If you don’t, chances are you will not be competitive, and your efforts will be better spent focusing on the jobs where you are a closer match.

Scanning job boards everyday can be tedious. Instead, set up job alerts for the kinds of positions you are seeking. On Devex, you can set up daily or weekly email alerts based on keywords, location, career level, employer name and more. This way, you get the right jobs delivered to your inbox each day, saving you precious time wading through a lot of irrelevant ones. You can also save common job searches so you can quickly see the latest opportunities at any time.

However, since not all jobs get posted, you should also seek out relevant employers. Devex has profiles on over 18,000 global development organizations worldwide, including many small groups you may not be aware of yet.

Applying to jobs online? Make sure you do these 3 things

Many people will tell you that applying to jobs online is a fruitless effort and the way to land a job is through networking and referrals. While it is true that many positions are filled through personal connections, it is also true that many people do get hired simply by applying to a job online, even without an insider lead. Always do these three things when applying to a job online to make sure you get noticed.

You can search by organization type, where they have offices, the countries they tend to recruit in, as well as those currently hiring. The organization’s profile will share useful insights, including their recruitment volume and activity, common skills of the people they hire, and any relevant industry news.

This is a great resource for building an outreach list of organizations to contact in your search and to get a deeper understanding of how they operate to prep for an interview. 

3. Focus and tailor your outreach.

After researching the jobs and employers that most closely match your skills and career goals, the next step is to take a tailored approach to how you pursue each.

The number one complaint we hear from recruiters about job applicants is they do not tailor their application to their jobs and organization. A majority of jobseekers don’t, so if you take the time, it will automatically put you ahead.

If you are applying to specific opportunities, tailor your resume and cover letter to the specifics of the job. You can use this CV guide as a resource for how to craft and tailor your CV.

If you discover an employer you think is a great fit, but they aren’t currently hiring, don’t give up just yet. See if you know someone who works there, or someone who can refer you to a current employee, and let them know you are interested or request an informational interview.

The do's and don'ts for making the most of an informational interview

Whether you are just starting out or looking to transition to a new area of international development, the informational interview is an effective tool for moving forward. While no two informational interviews are ever the same, here are five do’s and don’ts to making the most of one.

Again, many positions never get advertised and applicants who have an internal connection are often prioritized. Being known by an organization before they have a hiring need is a great way to make sure you are at the top of their list.

Attend events hosted by your dream employers or where you know they will be in attendance, including the upcoming Devex Career Forum in D.C., to further build your connections.

By focusing on the jobs and employers where you are most interested — and truly qualified — instead of spending time sending your resume out to 100+ jobs a day, you can spend that time strategically applying to those top few, increasing your chances of landing the job.

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.

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.