By Malaika Neri
During a summer internship at a microfinance in Madagascar, I realised that international development work was what I wanted to do. I loved the idea of being able to work in a number of different locations for people who often can’t help themselves. But once I got home, I felt paralysed; I wasn’t sure where to begin. The whole world of working in international development was fairly new to me, and I didn’t know where to start looking for jobs in the field.
The months that followed were filled with job-hunting, an internship that didn’t quite match what I wanted to do, and lots of Google searches. Of the 8,497 job listings available on my university jobs database, exactly five were at NGOs and international organisations. I scrolled and scrolled, feeling stuck. But as winter turned to spring, my browsing history became less scattered, and I found myself returning to the same five well-organised websites to look for new job postings.
Since that summer of blood orange sunsets in Madagascar, knowing where to look has become a lot easier. Although there are hundreds of websites featuring NGO jobs around the world, only a select few are worth your perusal. Here’s a list of where I’ve found every job I’ve ever had:
“I found my very first full-time nonprofit job on their website. And it was the perfect job for me in the beginning of my nonprofit career,” writes Rosetta Thurman, who has worked extensively in the nonprofit sector. With over 13,000 job listings, Idealist consistently tops the lot, featuring a completely free database of job opportunities.
But once I finished my studies in New York, I knew I wanted to find work outside the US. Every single job I saw on Idealist was in the United States. Scrolling through the thousands of opportunities, I wondered where could I find international posts. That’s where the next website came in…
“It practically happened overnight,” said Abbas AlWazir. He had spent hours poring over the websites of 50 different aid organisations looking for a new position. Then he discovered Devex and, within a week, was offered a job at Management Systems International, an implementing partner organisation that works with USAID. Some roles require registration to be viewed, but you can always Google the job postings and find the information freely listed elsewhere.
“Gone are the days of scrolling through job listings, [looking for something that’s a match],” writes Jon Thompson, who worked in Ethiopia and South Sudan for Doctors without Borders. ReliefWeb’s greatest asset is the ease with which you can filter jobs – by type of position, thematic area, expertise, level of experience, country, region, or continent in which the job is based, and type of organisation. It’s run by the United Nations so it is completely free to use, and all of the postings can be accessed without paying for membership or registration.
Back in August 2012, I used this website to find a posting for a freelance position with a project funded by the UN International Telecommunications Union, and after applying I was hired quickly. Bolstered by this success, I signed up for a three month Value Membership for $25, but I did not find it particularly valuable. When featured jobs were marked “For Value Members only”, I’d simply type the job title and location into a Google search and see the same information for free. This was the case for 90% of the job postings.
Of the myriad of websites featuring jobs at the United Nations and affiliated organisations, this is my favourite; it has a clean layout and clear design featuring several internships and entry-level positions. Filter by organisation name, job location (“duty station”), and closing date for applications.
Most jobs at international organisations of solid repute will be featured on the aforementioned sites. In case you’re looking for something a little more specific, you can try the following country- and language-specific websites:
CharityJob (UK): extensive listing of jobs at charities and NGOs (primarily in the UK), and you can feature by sector (education, environment, mental health etc.), by salary level, and by career category (digital, research, management etc.).
Bond (UK): features over 70 paid positions (primarily in the UK) at 55 different organisations, and includes salary information.
The Changer (Germany): with a beautiful user interface and design, this is the go-to website for social impact jobs in Germany.
GenevaJobs (Switzerland): for jobs based in Geneva and the whole of Switzerland. Uses the same template as DevNetJobs and is easy to search. For jobs restricted to Value Members, enter the provided information into Google and you’ll find the same information cross-posted elsewhere.
Southern African NGO Network – SANGONeT (South Africa): internships and jobs at every level across South Africa, most of which are paid. The database is not extensive, but if you are set on finding a job in South Africa, this is the best place to start.
Ethical Jobs (Australia): offers over 700 jobs based primarily in Australia, as well as around 30 listings abroad. The website has funky colours, but you can search by keyword, location (within Australia), and type of contract.
Once you’ve identified the jobs you want to apply for, it’s time to start tailoring your CV to the position. Here’s how to get started.
A previous version of this post first appeared on the author’s personal blog.
Malaika studied at New York University and has worked at a number of NGOs over the last ten years, in Haiti, Ecuador, the US and Germany. She is keen to help other ambitious young professionals, especially those just starting out in their careers, through sharing step-by-step plans. Malaika hopes to curb the common feeling that working in this sector is just for wealthy people with connections. So, she recently started her own blog.
Featured image shows someone searching for jobs in a newspaper. Photo from Kate Hiscock (Flickr).
Latest posts by Guest Author/s (see all)
- No ordinary hazard: Risking climate change - February 9, 2017
- Achieving social cohesion in Iraqi “nation building” - January 26, 2017