If you find yourself in the fortunate position where you have to decide between multiple job offers, don’t get too hung up on salary and job titles. Instead, think about the longer term impacts of the role that are likely to result in a happier and more fulfilling career.
When weighing your options, here are a few things to consider.
Consider the type of work the organization is focusing on and if you share its vision and values. Most people don’t go into development for the money, but rather because of their desire to help people, explained Tom LeaMond, a management professional with experience in career guidance and professional development. In global development, an organization’s mission is very important in motivating staff, so “do your research and figure out who you want to work for,” he advises.
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Think about which areas you might want to specialize in, says Amy Mulcahy, a global development consultant. She explained that while some organizations work on long-term development, others focus specifically on advocacy, or working in emergencies. If you have a strong interest in a particular area of work, some organizations will be a better fit.
You should also talk to other professionals in the sector to find out more about the organization's work culture. Do employees seem happy and committed in their work? What is the management style?
Chen Reis, who has worked in humanitarian assistance for over a decade and has extensive field experience, advises job seekers not to be tempted by the highest salary. Instead, they should do their research, ask questions and ensure they really know what the role entails.
“What are the security arrangements? What kind of benefits do the positions come with? Some organizations hire people as consultants and don’t give them any insurance coverage in settings that are quite risky,” she warns. “So really understand what each of the jobs is offering you and also what you are getting yourself into.”
Reis added that this is where it is helpful to tap into your network and find out what it is like to work for the different organizations.
“We have all been in positions where something looked good on paper, then when you talk to people you realize there are some fundamental issues with the leadership or management of that organizations that led a lot of people to leave,” she adds.
Understand how your work will contribute to achieving the organization’s goals and how it will complement the work of other teams. How can you use your skills and experience to succeed in the role and improve results? Development projects often require years of hard work to see steady and sustainable progress, and it can be frustrating for the staff involved to see their work hindered by bureaucracy, funding gaps or donor specifications. Have an open discussion with your potential employer about the challenges to the role and what results you can realistically hope to achieve.
While most global development jobs involve some travel, certain roles require longer and more frequent trips overseas, and you should consider how you will cope with these commitments long term.
Mulcahy said that travel was a recurring issue among the global development professionals she knows; some of them even cite it as their reason for leaving the sector. “A big thing is travel. A lot of the time when they, and this is men and women, have young children all of a sudden going overseas for three weeks to monitor a project isn’t as appealing compared to being able to stay at home.”
If you don’t have family or other obligations, then the idea of traveling may initially sound pretty exciting. But make sure you are aware of just how much travel will be asked of you and where. Discuss with your potential employer the longer term plans for the projects you will work on and find out now if there might be expectations for you to relocate, be based overseas, or travel to parts of the world you may not be willing to visit for security reasons or otherwise.
Will the role challenge you, allow you to develop your skills, or potentially lead to more senior positions? Mulcahy believes it is important to think about career progression, and in doing so, consider the size of the organization, if there are clear paths for natural progression and the opportunities to specialize.
You might be in the position where you are considering leaving your current job, which you are reasonably happy in, for another offer. While this is risky, ask yourself what experience and skills have you gained in your current role and whether or not there are real opportunities for professional growth in the future.