Your Five-Step Guide To Find Your First Job in Aid and Development

Five-Step Guide

To Find Your First Job

In The Aid & Development Sector


It can be quite daunting to write a successful résumé to get noticed by recruiters working in the aid and development sector. Some will even say that your résumé does not make a difference: it is about having the right connection within an organization or graduating from top universities. 

While you cannot ignore that some job seekers took advantage of these alternatives to be offered a junior position, this is not a good reflection of the reality. For the majority of job seekers, such as yourself, getting their first job in the aid and development sector, or being called for an interview, as a minimum, starts with a compelling résumé.

To help you follow their lead, we have developed a five-step guide that is likely to set you apart from the competition. 

12 USD

This is a promotion (initial price: 25 USD). 

This is the closest you’ll get

to receiving career coaching

through a simple book.


What will you learn? 

1. Evaluate where you stand in the job market

2. Select the right organization to launch your career

3. Build the right competencies to upgrade your profile

4. Prepare an application to set you apart from the crowd

5. Master the 21st century job search by becoming a brand



Or continue reading to discover a free extract

 Product details


Number of pages: 45

Language: English (the French version is coming soon)

Author: Belinda Lefebvre

Publisher: AidCareers 

Last update: June 2020


Detailed table of contents


INTRODUCTION - Are you the rare bird? 

Take the quiz and discover what would be the best strategy to get your first job depending on your results.


STEP 1 - Select a young professional-friendly organization         

Review the list of five criteria to determine whether your organization of choice is ‘young professional-friendly’.


STEP 2 - Build the right profile         

Learn how to gain the right academic background, build and showcase your professional experience, and understand what would set you apart from the other candidates.


STEP 3 - Analyze the job description (CV preparation)     

Follow a three-step process favoured by recruiters to write successful resume through a structured job description review, keywords identification, and professional formatting.


STEP 4 - Research the organization (Cover letter preparation)    

Follow our tips to write a cover letter that will get you noticed by recruiters and the hiring manager. Understand the concept of ‘culture fit’ and how this could make or break your application.


STEP 5 - Align your social media presence with your CV  

Make your passion, the foundation of your digital brand. Once you check your online presence for any controversial post, start embracing the power of social media, microblogging, and personal website, to build an online personal brand and become an online authority in the aid and development community.

About the author


Belinda Lefebvre is the founder of AidCareers and a human resources expert with a decade of experience helping nonprofit organizations identify talents. Having launched programmes that helped hundreds of professionals take their career to the next level, she is one of the best talent development experts who can truly spill the secrets on what it really takes to make it in the aid and development sector. 


Continue reading to discover a free extract



We are pleased to share with you an extract of The Five-Step Guide to Find Your First Job in Aid and Development. Step 2 provides a concrete action plan to build a profile that will make you stand out and, hopefully, increase your chances of being recruited. The below extract will focus on two growth areas: gain the right academic knowledge/skills and add relevant experience to build your competencies. 



Build the right profile


Connections could indeed take you anywhere you want in life. But, for most of us, the ability to launch a career in a sector of choice – and in your case, the aid and the development industry – comes down to having the right profile for the job.


By now, you are aware if you possess all of the qualities of the rare bird or not (if you have not taken the quiz already, click here or go back to page 8, and come back once completed). We can concentrate your energy on four growth areas: academic knowledge/skills, professional experience, languages, and/or field experience.


Growth area #1 - Gain the right academic knowledge/skills


Select accredited academic institutions


Some academic institutions are more appealing than others. Do you know that those young graduates from top universities have not secured an internship or entry-level position on the sole basis of their alma mater prestige? Frequently, these institutions have partnerships programmes with the organizations and would select and sometimes offer a stipend to cover all or part of the participants’ life expenses throughout the duration of the programme. Looking at the profile of current employees of international organizations and non-governmental organizations, you will notice that the majority have not graduated from a so-called prestigious universities and academic institutions.


The main criteria to choose a university is whether there are included in the list of accredited academic institutions by the United Nations: the World Higher Education database compiled by the International Association of Universities (IAU list) gathers a list of 650 institutions and organizations across 120 countries.


Invest in sector-related continuous learning


In addition to a graduate degree in a generic field of study (e.g., law, economics) or more related to aid and development work (e.g., international relations, human rights), a course or programme – if chosen well – can help you stand out from the crowd.


Below, a table with e-learning standard partners to choose from depending on your desire to launch a UN career or a career with other organizations of the aid and development industry:


Aid and development-related courses provided by the UN. If you are interested in launching your career within the UN system, have a look at these learning resources:


UNSSC – United Nations System Staff College

Centre of excellence for training and knowledge management within the UN system, which also provides few courses available to non-UN trainee.



Free learning platform of UNICEF, available to all.


Aid and development related-courses from other providers. If you are not specifically interested in a career within the UN system, but merely interested in broadening your knowledge and/or skills, you are encouraged to have a look at these long-standing learning partners of the industry:



Global learning platform of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy

Signature program of the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation



Global network of NGOs, UN agencies, members of the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, donors, academics, networks, and consultants


Growth area #2 - Add relevant experience to build your competencies


You would need experience to have experience. But you will not gain any without a good strategy! Part of this strategy is to gain relevant experience to your industry.


In practice, how do you do that?


Best option: hire a coach. If possible, do not do this alone. You would need the guidance of an expert to define the best approach depending on your profile. AidCareers provides just that. For more information, click here to book a discovery call.


Alternative option: do volunteering work. Surprisingly, many young professionals are reluctant to work for free in exchange of gaining experience. It is such a loss because volunteering has the potential to open doors and expand your professional network. For those interesting in a career within the UN system, it is worth noting the UNV online programme which may help you get some valuable UN experience - most of the times with UN agencies such as UNICEF or UNDP.


UNV online volunteering service 

Since 2005, the UNV Online Volunteering Service platform is proposing volunteering opportunities to individuals interested in strengthening peace and development efforts. Using this platform is definitely a win-win situation both for the organizations (UN/NGOs) and the volunteers:

  • Organizations whose activities contribute to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals can solicit the skills of volunteers without ‘breaking the bank’.
  • Volunteers have the opportunity to support UN and non-UN projects ‘in the comfort of their own home’.

For more information to develop your strategy to secure a volunteer position via this platform, visit visit AidCareers News hub.


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