Soft skills every development professional should possess

Development professionals at the Devex Career Fair in Nairobi. More than a long list of work experience and educational background, soft skills like customer service, the ability to think on your feet, resourcefulness, and cross-cultural understanding can get you far ahead. Photo by: Jonathan Kalan

At the recent Devex Career Fair in Nairobi, several recruiters and human resource leaders stressed the importance of soft skills in succeeding as a global development professional. While there are many soft skills that can be useful — and it often depends on the role — here are five universal soft skills every global development professional should strive to have along with how to communicate them to a prospective employer.

1. Flexibility

Aid work is anything but predictable: a natural disaster strikes, a political conflict breaks out, a donor shifts its funding priorities. A development worker needs to be prepared to change focus quickly and effectively. The ability to roll with the punches and correct course to align with shifting needs on the ground is a valuable trait in development employees.

How to get this across to an employer: Give an example in your cover letter that not only shows your technical expertise or managerial prowess but also demonstrates how you were able to quickly respond to changing needs or priorities. Also, recruiters take cues throughout the interview process. So try to be flexible about when and how you interview. If you appear too rigid, it will serve as a red flag to prospective employers.

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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.