Humanitarian Development Opportunities

In the course of humanitarian development career related coaching I find that I am often asked two questions that are essentially about either “widening” or, alternatively, “focusing” the search for suitable opportunities.

Here is my initial raft or “go to” list of search suggestions with some evaluative commentary.

Going deeper or broadening your search

  • DevelopmentAid:This is a very large database with a reasonable search function but be aware that many of the opportunities found here will also feature on the Impactpool database where the search facility is easier to use. Many opportunities are not actually visible unless a fee is paid.
  • Human rights funders:As the name suggests this vacancy board is focused on selected jobs at major philanthropic foundations and charities that are working on human rights.
  • Devex:This very broad source of opportunities claims to cover the whole international development industry and the number of opportunities listed would suggest this may well be accurate. It offers the chance to create alerts in a way similar to Impactpool but less than half of the jobs are actually visible unless a fee is paid.
  • ReliefWeb:This broad source of humanitarian, relief and conflict jobs has a good search function.
  • Devnetjobs:This broad source of opportunities also claims to cover the whole development industry through a vast online database but, again, most functions are only available on payment of a fee.
  • UN Jobs:This covers mostly UN roles and some consultancy opportunities, as the name suggests, but also some other roles within the humanitarian and development sector. The scattered adverts make the experience of using this less than pleasant and the search function is difficult to use effectively.

Focusing your search more narrowly

For altruists wanting to address the world’s most pressing problems through their work

  • 80000 Hours:This is a very focused and well curated set of (mainly) job opportunities geared to meeting the career development needs of highly skilled and well-educated altruists. It mostly features roles in the US or the UK. The vacancies advertised are refreshed regularly. All the opportunities offer the chance to make a contribution to the resolution of some of the world’s most challenging problems.
  • Bridgespan:This advertises US philanthropic and charitable foundation roles, both paid and volunteer. It has an excellent search facility.
  • EA Work Club:This includes vacancies, projects and consultancy opportunities in the US. It is focused on effective altruism cause areas.
  • Social Enterprise Google Group:A collaborative, extensive and ever-growing list of roles in social enterprise and related fields. Well worth keeping up to date with. There is no search facility.

For procurement and supply chain opportunities

  • Procurement iNet: This website is an interface between career opportunities in procurement, supply chain management and related fields and employers/contracting organisations and clients. It publishes opportunities from multilateral and bilateral agencies, international consulting firms, etc.

For communications and behavioural/organisational change specialists

  • Social Enterprise Google Group:A collaborative and extensive list of roles in social enterprise and related fields. Worth keeping up to date with. No search facility.
  • C4D network:Provides a good weekly email for members of highlighting jobs and consultancy opportunities in the communications and behaviour change arena. This is a searchable online job board available to all.
  • W4MP:This started out with the title “Work for (an) MP” and now has a strong focus on Westminster, UK, roles and roles associated with UK politics. Also serves as a credible source of UK thinktank jobs but has no search ability.

For accountants and auditors

  • AFID: AfID offers every type of accountant or auditor, from anywhere in the world, the opportunity to use their skills to support a broad range of non-profit organisations globally. Volunteer assignments of between 2 weeks and 12 months are advertised alongside permanent roles.

Focus on Africa

  • NGOJobsinAfrica:Quite a large number of jobs, some at junior level. A fairly limited searching ability.
  • CoordinationSud:A website with a good search function. A more limited selection of opportunities focused on disaster relief, populations at war, or development (including economics, education, health and agriculture). Especially strong on opportunities in Francophone countries and with French NGOs.
  • AFID: AfID offers every type of accountant or auditor, from anywhere in the world, the opportunity to use their skills to support a broad range of non-profit organisations in Africa. Volunteer assignments of between 2 weeks and 12 months are advertised alongside permanent roles, particularly in Africa. Good search facility.

For French speakers

  • CoordinationSud:A website with a good search function. A more limited selection of opportunities focused on disaster relief, populations at war, or development (including economics, education, health and agriculture). Especially strong on opportunities in Francophone countries and with French NGOs.

For environmentalists

  • Environment Jobs in the UK: This source carries typically 250 or more job vacancies in the UK environment sector and is beginning to cover international environmental roles, contracts and consultancies.
  • Green Job List:A monthly climate change and social purpose focused jobs newsletter. Almost all are US based. About 60 opportunities per issue.
  • CharityJob:the UK’s largest and most specialised job board carrying non-profit, NGO, social enterprise, community interest company and voluntary jobs including numbers in the environmental sector.

For UK-based job hunters

  • ACF: A select, usually small, list of UK charity jobs. Usually senior and frequently board or trustee roles.
  • CharityJob:  The UK’s largest and most specialised job board carrying non-profit, NGO, social enterprise, community interest company and voluntary jobs
  • Bond: A UK-based vacancy database providing access to more senior vacancies in programming, fundraising, advocacy, communications, research, leadership or monitoring and evaluation.

IT and Technical roles in the US

  • Tech Jobs for Good:Here you will find tech jobs at social impact companies, foundations, and innovative non-profits within the US. An impressively large number of roles but a surprisingly limited search facility.

Looking fo Volunteering opportunities or Internships?

Many of the job boards listed here provide access to volunteer roles and internships but here are some that typically offer a wider range of both.

  • Idealist:This has good searchability and includes many non-paid opportunities.
  • Bridgespan:Covers US philanthropic and charitable foundation roles, both paid and volunteer. There is an excellent search facility.
  • AFID: AfID offers every type of accountant or auditor, from anywhere in the world, the opportunity to use their skills to support a broad range of non-profit organisations globally. Volunteer assignments of between 2 weeks and 12 months are advertised alongside permanent roles, particularly in Africa. Good search facility.”
  • VSO: VSO have been sending volunteers to Africa and Asia for over 60 years. Their preparation and support arrangements are excellent and their opportunity search engine for experienced professionals is well regarded.

 

Humans required

In our “Dying Professions” article, published 30 August 2018, we commented on the impact of automation on a variety of employment roles. In this complementary article we share the outcomes of Royal Bank of Canada research undertaken in 2017/18 and highlight some really useful conclusions RBC came to. Rather typically, for an advanced developed economy, RBC found that:

  • More than 25% of Canadian jobs will be heavily disrupted by technology in the coming decade. Fully half will go through a significant overhaul of the skills required.
  • Despite projected heavy job displacement in many sectors and occupations, the Canadian economy is expected to add 2.4 million jobs over the next four years, all of which will require this new mix of skills.
  • Canada’s education system, training programmes and labour market initiatives are inadequately designed to help Canadian youth navigate this new skills economy.
  • Canadian employers are generally not prepared, through hiring, training or retraining, to recruit and develop the skills needed to make their organisations more competitive in a digital economy.
  • RBC’s researchers identified a new way of grouping jobs into six “clusters,” based on essential skills by occupation rather than by industry. By focusing on the foundational skills required within each of these clusters, a high degree of mobility is possible between jobs.
  • Digital fluency will be essential to all new jobs. This does not mean we all need to become coders, but we do all need to be digitally literate.
  • Global competencies like cultural awareness, language, and adaptability will be in demand.
  • Virtually all job openings will place significant importance on judgment and decision-making and more than two thirds will value an ability to manage people and resources.

These findings are likely be repeated across many economies of similar size and complexity, but we wish to highlight just one finding: the clustering of occupations, not by industry, but by skills clusters.

This approach has real, practical value for those making career development decisions … wherever they are.

RBC’s comprehensive data project looked past the standard economic data to dig into the work Canadians actually do. It shows that these occupations are increasingly connected by the skills required to do them. Skills that range from reading and critical thinking to systems analysis and technology design, each bearing its own importance in any given line of work.

The occupations can be grouped into six broad “clusters,” which RBC called Solvers, Providers, Facilitators, Technicians, Crafters and Doers.


The clusters aren’t grouped by industry, educational attainment, collar colour or income; they’re grouped by the skills required to do the work. This allows us to see how skills apply across a wide range of jobs, and how young people might be able to move from one profession or role to another by upgrading just a small number of skills. Out of 35 foundational workplace skills, it takes upgrading just four skills, for example, for someone in the Facilitator cluster to transition from dental assistant to graphic designer.

These findings are not likely to be relevant only in Canada. They point to career development strategies with much wider application.

Of course some transitions between professions will require time, money and a personal commitment to bridging certain knowledge gaps — and it’s no small thing to be constantly upgrading skills.

Career changers will have to find the transitions that work for them. Not every dental assistant has the aptitude or desire to become a graphic designer.

RBC’s report shows the six clusters and their skills emphasis, their susceptibility to automation, and examples of career transitions that can occur within each. This paves the way to a new understanding of how job changers can discover career paths, acquire skills and upgrade them. RBC also used market forecasting to show which clusters stack up well against labour demand, and automation projections to show which clusters face the most risk of disruption. This part of the report may be of less value outside Canada though the general labour market themes are almost certainly applicable way beyond the land of the maple leaf.


Download the full report here.