CV Writing Scenarios and Approaches

What will your next job be?

Will it be in the field or HQ? Will it be in management, programme, policy or operations?

Will it be with the UN, an NGO, a donor, a consulting firm or a research organisation?

Will it focus on climate change, water management, health care, human rights, youth development or other area?

Career journeys and opportunities in international development, humanitarian action and the wider non-profit sector are as varied as they are plentiful. From working with people of all ages and levels of experience, here are some approaches I use when writing CVs and LinkedIn profiles.
Maybe you see yourself here...

CV Writer Executive NGO UN Humanitarian
  • You: You haven't had to update your CV or LinkedIn profile for a while and it's looking outdated. It's also rather long and rambling. You have accomplished so much over the last few years that you aren't sure how to make your leadership and value stand out.

  • My approach: I will take time to learn your career objectives and which qualities and achievements you need to promote the most. Since you are likely to have a substantial network, I would design a CV layout that has instant visual impact and reveals your most striking and valuable statistics. For LinkedIn, I would hone in your career story, scale of responsibility, vision-setting and ability to inspire others.
CV Writing Scenario Field to Headquarters OWS
Field to HQ
  • You: You have completed a few field missions and are striving to assume responsibility in a similar area at a regional or headquarters level. Your CV shows vast experience but isn't getting shortlisted.

  • My approach: I will examine and highlight your leadership and technical strengths and successes, and bolster them with (accurate) statistics and impacts that show you can manage a higher scope of responsibility. I will also make sure that the layout of your CV is optimised for HQ recruitment systems.
CV Writing Scenario National to International OWS
National to International
  • You: You have been a national staff member for several years and are seeking an international position. You have sent off many applications but you don't seem to get noticed. 

  • My approach: I will showcase your motivation, qualities, knowledge and successes that can be up-scaled or applied in another context. Adding any major contributions, areas you have influenced and involvement in activities outside of your country will be important.
Operations to Programme
  • You: You feel stuck in your operations or programme support role and want to move into a project or programme, maybe even into a project manager position. You know the sector(s), you know the issues and you have a great to deal to offer, but you can't seem to sell yourself or stand out.

  • My approach: I will examine your transferable expertise and knowledge and the contexts in which you have worked. I will emphasise these through persuasive text and layout, and highlight your contributions to programmes and their successes.
CV Writing Scenario Operations to Programme OWS
Officer to Manager
  • You: You feel ready to pursue a management role, but your CV isn't hitting the mark. Maybe it's too technical, doesn't sufficiently highlight your management achievements, or possibly lacks confidence.

  • My approach: I will extract the tasks you have managed or overseen and then emphasise them through layout, possibly with a dedicated sub-section highlighting your achievements and competencies. Showing scale, quantities, influence and what you can juggle will be important. The chances are you've done more than you realise!
CV Writing Scenario Graduate Early Career OWS
Early Career
  • You: You have a lot of theoretical knowledge about international aid and development, but only 2-3 years' work experience. You are highly enthusiastic but that doesn't seem to impress your recruiter.

  • My approach: I will look at your specialisations and achievements in your educational, professional and voluntary life to date. I will then zoom in on the parts that show off aspects like levels of responsibility, team orientation, leadership and influence. Layout will be key to showing off your potential value.
For many years I have been struggling with my resume and I have consulted many resume experts. Until a friend of mine recommended me Sally and her vast experience. Not only is she thoughtful, she connects with her client in order to understand you better. In the end, the CV is a reflection of who I am. I can only recommend her!

Cornelis, NGO Finance & Business Support Specialist

>> Cornelis landed interviews with 3local and international NGOs soon after receiving his new CV and a one-pager.

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