By continuing to browse this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Read our privacy policy

Learn how to land a job in international development

Get closer to your dream job with Impactpool's first ebook written by experts in international development recruitment

In these books, we share our stories, the challenges we faced, and the decisions we made to secure positions in some of the most prestigious international organizations around the world.

What could be better than learning from professionals who have taken the same journey and succeeded?

We share concrete, honest advice on how you can approach this type of career strategically - from choosing the right jobs to apply for, to positioning yourself in the best possible way for advancement and growth.

You will gain a better understanding on how this sector works and how you can land your dream job.

How to Launch a Meaningful and Rewarding Career in International Development is an introduction to the fundamental aspects of a career in international development.

We give you the basics to build a career: including educational requirements, relevant skills and experience, organization types, career tracks, and remuneration.

Read an extract.

This eBook is included in our

Career Coaching

packaged offers.

Expore Coaching

The ebook is included in the

Impactpool Fellowship

with varied other learning

material valued over $60.

Expore Fellowship
USD 20

I found this piece of work rigorous and at the same time practical in order to focus, save energy and time, and to maximize the possibilities of success in applications for the international development sector.

Javier Martín, Head of HR at The Union for the Mediterranean


  • Author: Henrik Ryden, Co-founder and COO of Impactpool
  • Publication date: March 30th, 2016 (last edited October 26th, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • Number of pages: 41

Table of content

  • Chapter 1 - What’s your career level?
  • Chapter 2 - Career tracks and organization types
  • Chapter 3 - What is quota and how does it affect you?
  • Chapter 4 - What you need to know about contracts
  • Chapter 5 - What is the remuneration package?
  • Chapter 6 - Identify your career focus
 and desired duty stations
  • Chapter 7 - Strategies: How to land the right job and position yourself for career growth

Extract from Chapter 1

Chapter 1: What’s your career level?

As a recruiter, it is obvious that many applicants don’t do their homework before applying. It’s true that career and job-hunting in the development sector can be an overwhelming process. It’s difficult to know where to begin researching, how to understand the various contract types, grades, career levels, acronyms, and so on.

From time to time at Impactpool we hear from job seekers who have applied for hundreds of vacancies without succeeding to land a single job. To succeed with an application to any development organization you must understand a lot more about the recruitment process than you may believe. Knowing more will save you huge amounts of time and energy, and dramatically increase your chances of success. It will help you to apply to jobs for which you are qualified, and therefore have realistic chances of being hired.

To begin with, you need to define your career level at this point in time. In this chapter, we’ll lead you through that process.

From there, you can begin to narrow your focus and target your job search. In each subsequent chapter, we will help you think more strategically so that you can make the best knowledge-based decisions to launch and evolve a successful career in the development sector.

Focus your job search

Statistics from the UN show that 45 percent of applicants do not meet the minimum requirements, consequently they are unlikely to be considered. Hence, to increase your chances of a successful application, it is important that you define your career level as a first step.

Knowing your career level helps you apply for the correct level. Many multilateral organizations use "grades", which is a way to classify the seniority of positions within an organization. Before going into details about grades, it’s important to understand that most international organizations focus on three basic areas to define the requirements for a specific job. These are used to determine your eligibility to apply for jobs at a certain career level.

3 Basic Requirement Areas

  • Years of relevant professional experience
  • Highest degree
  • Languages applicable to the assignment you are applying for

In some organizations, like the UN, these requirements are quite rigidly applied. If an applicant doesn't have the required years of experience, he or she is not eligible. In extremely rare cases an applicant who does not meet the requirements may be considered, but only in situations where there is no other eligible applicant. In fact, we have only seen this happen once throughout our career (including several hundred recruitment processes). In that particular case, the applicant had six months left to meet the minimum requirements, there was no other applicant, and the position was located in a crisis location were quick deployment was necessary.

This is a brilliant book! I loved the flow of it.
The tips and facts are very useful.

Sajid Ali, HR Manager at IUCN