Top 10 career advice stories of 2013

Development professionals at the Devex Career Fair in Nairobi, Kenya, in October, where the localization of aid - and its effect on hiring - was a big topic of debate for recruiters and job seekers. Photo by: Jonathan Kalan / Devex

Every year brings opportunities for busy development professionals to improve their skills, advance their careers and explore entirely new areas of work.

Short contracts, frequent moves and challenging work conditions — they’re common features of international development and humanitarian relief. But over the past year, the job market has got increasingly competitive and the role especially of expats is evolving as aid groups ramp up local hiring and partnership.

We kept up by asking for more of your input than ever, then came back with practical advice and features to answer your questions and inspire that next step in your career.

Kate Warren, Devex director of global recruiting services, sought to answer some of the most pressing questions in our Career Matters blog, where she shared ”the truth about cover letters” and explored what to consider before pursuing a graduate degree, among many other topics.

If you have a question you think would further the discussion, tweet @devexcareers or join the Devex LinkedIn development careers group and leave your thoughts on the discussion board.

For now, rediscover our most popular career advice stories of the year. Counting down from 10, they are:

10. How to ask for an informational interview

They can broaden your network, help you practice interview skills, and even lead to future job opportunities. Here are tips from Warren on how to land — and make the most of — an informational interview in the field of development cooperation.

9. Challenges affecting women’s advancement in global development

Mainstreaming gender into development programs has become common practice and the benefits for doing so are so accepted, they aren’t even up for debate. But as an industry, do we practice what we preach?

8. Should I contact a hiring manager directly?

Should a job seeker in international development circumvent the formal hiring procedures and go straight to the hiring manager? Warren responds to a question posed via Twitter.

7. Top resume mistakes local professionals make

Want to stand out as a local applicant? International development recruiters share the most common resume mistakes they see on resumes and provide advice on what to include to effectively sell yourself on paper.

6. How you may be reading job postings all wrong

One of the most common complaints from job seekers is that they don’t hear back after applying for a job. Here’s how you can increase your chances of a callback.

5. The truth about cover letters

Cover letters: Sure, they’re important, but how crucial are they really to landing a job in international development? Warren explains.

4. Soft skills every development professional should possess

Throughout 2013, recruiters and human resource leaders stressed the importance of soft skills in succeeding as a global development professional. Here are five universal soft skills every global development professional should strive to have along with how to communicate them to a prospective employer.

3. International development volunteer programs: A primer

Volunteering is one of the best ways to break into the field of global development,  but there are always questions surrounding which programs are best and why. Here are some volunteer programs that may send you abroad at no cost or, even better, offer financial and other support to participants.

2. 8 things to consider before pursuing a graduate degree

The field of global development places a high value on education and credentials. But pursuing an advanced degree is expensive and time-consuming, so it’s one of the bigger decisions you will make in your career. Here are 8 things you should consider before diving back into the books.

1. How USAID’s shifting focus will affect staffing

The United States’ shifting international priorities will lead to significant staffing changes at the U.S. Agency for International Development, as the world’s top bilateral donor is eager to focus more of its employees on Africa and Asia.

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About the author

  • Kelli Rogers

    Kelli Rogers is an Associate Editor for Devex. Based on the U.S. West Coast, she works with Devex's team of correspondents and editors around the world, with a particular focus on gender. She previously worked as Devex’s Southeast Asia correspondent based in Bangkok, covering disaster and crisis response, resilience, women’s rights, and climate change throughout the region. Prior to that, she reported on social and environmental issues from Nairobi, Kenya. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and has since reported from more than 20 countries.