Long gone are the days that you had to search printed magazines and newspapers for job advertisements. In the current digitalized world, the internet has become a nifty source to discover new career opportunities. Still, however great the possibilities, it may not always be clear where to look and what to look out for when hunting for a job in international affairs. (Featured Image © Pete Souza)
General jobsites should always be your first stop for information. GlobalJobs, IntJobs, EuroBrussels and Euractiv are all websites that offer similar overviews of vacancies. It is, however, worth checking each one of them on a regular basis, as they each occasionally offer a career opportunity you probably won’t find on any of the other sites mentioned. Either way, these sites generate general overviews of jobs in international affairs that many national jobsites fail to offer.
The most useful feature of these websites is that you can search on experience required, thus allowing you to skip vacancies for which you may not be the ideal candidate. Yet, do not underestimate how much experience you’ve actually got: internships, volunteer work and even relevant student jobs count as experience for many positions. It eventually depends on how you sell yourself and your skills.
Make sure that you then check the websites of your national government. For Belgium, this means following up on main recruitment agency Selor, and, additionally, you can have a look at the starter jobs posted for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs specifically. The message here is to dig in and inform yourself. For example, if you have a strong regional government it may be worth applying there too: the Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs or Flanders Investment and Trade in Belgium are regularly recruiting.
Depending on your interests, you should also look for websites of organisations in specific sectors. Large international organisations such as NATO, OSCE and the EU only post vacancies on their own dedicated website. The UN sometimes posts on general jobsites, but it is worth checking their site or even specifically their vacancies in Brussels if that’s where you’re headed. Keep in mind that these organisations do often have longer and more arduous recruitment procedures, as is also the case for jobs with a national government. Online, this can mean having to use a form instead of simply uploading your resume.
Do not get hung up on finding a job with a large organisations: broaden your scope, as small-scale organisations are also recruiting people. Many post their vacancies on general jobsites, but this is not always the case. It is thus essential to inform yourself about the organisations active in the specific sector or even geographic area of your preference. Why not search the web for human rights NGO’s in Venezuela, if that is your thing? Or how about a think tank on foreign policy? You may even come across general jobsites for specific sectors: in Belgium, 11.11.11 has a large overview of development vacancies.
There are some alternative jobsites worth visiting, especially worth mentioning is the LinkedIn Jobs portal. It can be a bit more difficult to navigate at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a useful additional tool to find vacancies you would otherwise miss. Keep in mind that you will have to sift through what are mostly international business-related vacancies – but perhaps this may turn out to be of interest to you? Also worth searching for are relevant Facebook groups, as there are several dedicated to posting job vacancies in international affairs.
In general, disregarding (unpaid) internships, there are few entry-level jobs in international affairs and there is a lot of competition. Searching outside of this sector may thus be useful and even necessary. Do not limit yourself to googling for dream jobs in international affairs, but look for other jobs, perhaps at a local level, that can provide you with skills or knowledge which could turn out to be useful in your later career in international affairs.
To better organise your search through all of these websites, you may want keep track of the last dates you’ve visited them. Furthermore, many general and dedicated jobsites offer the possibility to sign-up for their jobs newsletter. Sign up, perhaps using a new e-mail account dedicated to your job hunt, and have a regular look. The LinkedIn Jobs portal even has an app, which allows you to turn on notifications for new vacancies that contain specific key words.
Finally, it should be pointed out that networking and meeting new people remains the single most important way to look for a job. Attending events on international affairs allow you to meet people that could inform you about leads that otherwise do not appear online. Up to half of all vacancies are never advertised, so you should aim to dedicate at least some of your time to networking.
Did we miss anything or do you have a question to ask? Please do leave us a comment!