The Only Job Search Checklist You Will Ever Need

Do you ever feel like every effort you put into getting a job always lands you at the same place?

“We regret to inform you..”

I have been there too. What is really demotivating is that you do your best and are the best at what you do, but somehow your best is never enough.

How should you prove that you deserve a chance? And how can you be mindful about how you go about finding a job?

Are there any tricks? Or hacks that make hired candidates any different from you? The answer is a resounding YES!

Like everything else looking for a job requires a good strategy. And that begins with an understanding of what is required from you.

In this blog allow me to give you some useful tips nobody tells you about. In your lifetime you will probably make the mistake of foregoing one of these major steps. Here is to never again!

Determine your job search objective.  

Ask yourself the following upfront.

What, When, Who, Why and How?

  • Why do I want/need a new job?
  • What kind of job am I looking for? (Area of interest).
  • When do I need a new job?
  • Who do I want to work for?
  • Where do I want to work?
  • How am I going to look for THE job?

Be clear with yourself what kind of development work you want to do. Do you want to work locally or abroad? What are you good at? Which organisation could use your skillset?

Doing this allows you to target your efforts. It gives you perspective on what to study for and the kind of experience you need.

Update your Resume/ CV/ LinkedIn profile.

Do an online review of all your social media accounts and clean up any “incriminating” posts.

Keep it clean. Online reputation is critical.

This also means updating your work experience as you grow in your career by removing some outdated resume items. Also tailoring your resume for the job you are applying for.

Read our resume writing tips on this link to get more appreciation on how to use job descriptions and keywords.

Research the targeted organization

Whether it be the UN, IFRC, The World Bank, World Vision or any current or potential future openings.

Think around what the world concerns are visa vi your areas of interest.

If you are interested in protection and security for children you might want to target Save the Children or World Vision for instance.

Migration issues could lead you to the IFRC, IOM or NRC.

If you don’t have enough experience you can start by volunteering locally and build your way to the top.

Networking is key

Distribute your resume to potential employers/ apply to the advertised position.

Always include a Cover letter.

There are different strategies you can employ when applying – passive or active.

Passive means you are waiting for openings to be advertised while active means you are actively enquiring from your network, from recruiters and on social media for any opportunities and you can often get invited to apply to a job before it goes public.

Prepare for interviews

This is a great time for you to start practicing common interview questions.

Particularly the “easy” questions

“Tell me about you”? (Have your 60-second elevator speech ready)

“Where do you want to be in five years?”

Don’t forget to send “Thank you letters” after interviews.

For a more in-depth interview preparation write up, follow this link and start practising!

Be prepared to negotiate your contract

Not always the salary!

Even start dates can be negotiated.

Things such as benefits, bonuses,contract renewals, performance evaluations etc. can be discussed as well.

The Avant Garde

When developing your career plan/strategy you need to ask yourself a LOT of questions.

Here are some more to think about in addition to the ones above.

  1. Why am I looking for a new job? What are my key selling points?
  2. What kind of job am I willing to accept? What kind of job will I not accept? Am I willing to relocate? Do I want a family post or a hardship post?
  3. What salary do I need?

Congratulations on your new assignment!

HUMHR wishes you all the success as you continue to establish your career in the Humanitarian world.

As you start your new assignment remember that your performance is key and you need to have career goals and manage them well to be successful!

As a career coach, I partner with you to unravel these questions and develop a strategy that you can follow step by step and be accountable for. We develop your script for success!

Feel free to engage me on a job search strategy anytime. My email is

What every Humanitarian worker needs to know about their CV content

Your resume answers the question “Why are you the best person for the position advertised”

In the last blog, I gave you the 5 tips for writing that winning resume. As promised in this blog we will chat about content construction. Ensure that those two or three pages are packed with value-add information. This is the information that answers the question, “Why are you the best person for the position?”

Who am I?

The first things on your CV are

1. Your name

2. Contact information.

Remember this is your brand so ensure that you use your name consistently across all your career marketing documents i.e. your CV, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, etc. Social media branding is very important in today’s job search world. I will talk about this another time.

Your name should stand out. So, you want it to be bold. To achieve this, use a larger font than the body of the CV. A size 16 or 18 should do the job.

This may seem obvious, but I will say it anyway. Ensure that your contact information is correct “in the present”. You don’t want to miss that invitation to an interview because you forgot to update your email address. Or because you used your “home” phone number in Kenya when you are currently deployed in Bangladesh.

The headline tells the recruiter or hiring manager in a short statement who you are. Some examples are:

What should be in your content?

Professional Profile/Summary

Here you will write a brief summary of your experience, skills or value add. Begin by highlighting in a short 2-3 sentence paragraph or bullet points what you have to offer.

Areas of expertise/Skills

You will dig deep into what you are best at in this section. Point out 6 to 8 skills, focusing on the keywords in your particular area of work.

For instance, an Emergency Preparedness Expert would include:

  • Crisis Management
  • Program Development
  • Proposal Writing
  • Health Security Emergency Preparedness
  • Early Warning Systems
  • Emergency Risk Management

These are the things you want to indicate to show that you are aware of what the job entails and capable of meeting the job requirements.

Career Summary/ Experience

This section is where you should “show off” your experience and qualifications. Go back 10 years and use reverse chronology, starting with your current employment. It is important to highlight your accomplishments. Do not waste your time regurgitating your job description. DO this instead!

Spend some time for each position you have held answering the question “What is it that I am most proud of? Select about 5 accomplishments and describe them using the Situation- Action- Result model.

Below is an example taken from a former client’s resume. By quantifying the work and modifying the language, you add weight and context to the statement:

[Before] Managed in-country budgets.

[After] Oversaw in-country budgets (up to 4 million pounds annually) with current budgetary oversight of 15 million Euros in 3 countries in the West African region.

Education and Professional development

This is your opportunity to display that doctorate in Public Health or International Development.

Also, use this section to show that you didn’t learn in college but that you have been consistent in your professional development activities. Talk about how you attained that leadership certificate. Include that you are emergency preparedness ready, having attended the Humanitarian Emergency response training. Any other useful and relational qualifications should be included here, to demonstrate that you are the right fit for the job.

Professional Development

There is a lot that goes into writing that winning CV. I cannot go into it all in a single blog especially without going through an actual resume to build on the points. Things such as

  • Sentence structuring,
  • The use of action verbs,
  • Turning passive into active sentences

To round this up,

  1. Start with a bold introduction that includes your name and title. Use your up to date contact details
  2. Your professional profile should capture the bulk of your experience and skills at a bird’s eye view.
  3. Maximise on the use of keywords to demonstrate your experience and appreciation of the job requirements to show your areas of expertise
  4. Your career summary should be in reverse chronology and speak to the achievements you made during each assignment
  5. All your educational and professional development training especially outside of college to show your commitment towards self- improvement and consistency in your file.

Click here to download a customisable CV template and create your own CV now.

Should you have any questions, you can contact me on I will be happy to answer your specific questions. The first 3 people to reach out will get a free CV review.

Author: Batje Chibafa, HumHr Managing Partner

Batje has over ten years’ experience in multi-cultural experience in Human Resources, implementing Organizational Development HR strategies across all facets of the HR function. Proven history of success implementing strategic improvements, creating productive business partners, and providing value to organizations. Demonstrated strength in evaluating processes and determining cost-effective solutions to increase efficiency and improve accuracy. Has excellent organizational development and facilitation skills with a passion for positive change.

5 Tips for writing a winning resume in the Humanitarian space

Do you know what the number one problem in writing a good CV is?

It’s making a good impression.

You only have 5 seconds to do that. What will you do to get shortlisted for that next assignment with the UN, AFDB, World Bank or any other NGO?

Your first point of call is to write a WOW resume that will get your foot in your recruiter’s door for an interview.

In this blog, I will give you some underrated yet powerful tips that will increase your chances among thousands of other competitors for the same position.

Let’s get started.

Know the requirements

Do you know that there is a difference between a CV and a resume?

A CV is generally a longer more comprehensive document and mostly used in the academic field.

A resume, on the other hand, is a shorter more pertinent document but generally, we tend to use the term interchangeably.

It really depends on circumstances but let’s not get bogged down in technicalities.

“Your CV or resume is your marketing representative and as such you want it to represent who you are and what value add you will bring to a prospective employer.”

You want your CV to represent you well and stand out from the crowd.

There are five general tips that you can use when writing your resume, namely:

  1. Font
  2. Formatting and layout
  3. Length
  4. Content
  5. Proofreading

You may have heard of the old marketing adage 5-second rule that says it takes 5 seconds to make a first impression.

This applies not only to you as an individual but also to your CV/resume.

  • Font

First things first, use a font size that is easy to read – size 10 or 11 is a good one. Settle for a conservative font type style that’s not too fancy.

Something like Calibri or Times New Roman is well-fitting.

It is standard and it will not take away from the content of the CV.

I have seen some resumes that have used a tiny font size to make things fit on a page – making it very difficult to read.

You don’t want to do this as it may frustrate the recruiter.

  • Formatting and layout  

Next, pay attention to formatting and layout and ensure that there is consistency.

For instance, if you are using bullets ensure that all bullets are the same style.

Margins should also be consistent throughout the document. Ensure that there is enough “white space” in your resume.

  • Length

Remember recruiters are going through tons of CVs. I was talking to a recruiter who is a colleague the other day and she told me that they had 5367 CVs going through their systems that they needed to physically go through.

With this in mind, you want your resume to be as “to the point” as possible.

There is no sense in having a 6-page document listing all the jobs you have ever had and the responsibilities you held in those jobs.

Keep your resume to a maximum of 3 pages.

  • Content Construction

We move on to content. When writing a resume, it is assumed to be in the first person, but you drop the “I”.

For example, you would not write, “I am a detail-oriented emergency preparedness expert.”

Instead, you would state, “Detail-oriented emergency preparedness expert with over 15 years’ experience in international development and aid.”

You should never write in the third person. You also want to construct your sentences well. Ensure you are not using passive sentences.

  • Proofread, proofread and proofread!

Lastly, and more importantly, you cannot afford to send a resume out with any mistake no matter how “small” it is. Proofread your CV.

Read it out loud. Give it to someone else to read it for you.

Print it and review it as presented on paper.

To wrap up

These tips are, of course, a tip of the iceberg as far as resume writing goes. Like you often hear ‘Content is King’. A bit more thought must be invested in:

  • how you sell yourself,
  • what you include in your sections
  • the way in which you talk about yourself and your work.

To demonstrate that you are the right fit for the job in question, you need to nail your details and descriptions. The structure and content of the resume are of great importance and we will talk about it in our next discussion as that deserves a spotlight.

In the case that you need a one on one consultation to improve your resume follow this link to schedule a call with the Lead Consultant Batje Chibafa.

Author: Batje Chibafa, HumHr Managing Partner

Batje has over ten years’ experience in multi-cultural experience in Human Resources, implementing Organizational Development HR strategies across all facets of the HR function. Proven history of success implementing strategic improvements, creating productive business partners, and providing value to organizations. Demonstrated strength in evaluating processes and determining cost-effective solutions to increase efficiency and improve accuracy. Has excellent organizational development and facilitation skills with a passion for positive change.


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