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Common Mistakes Humanitarian Job Applicants Make

By CTG Team

The humanitarian job search can be a complicated process. CTG sets up thousands of interviews for humanitarian roles around the world every year, ranging from Civil Engineers to Field Coordinators. We’ve asked our RRAD team to share the common mistakes development and humanitarian job applicants are making.

typing on laptop

CV layout

Your CV is the first impression the recruiter has of you so make sure that the formatting is clear and it’s error-free. Inconsistent fonts and layout, outdated contact details, and not listing important details like languages, nationality and diasporas — could cost you a chance at an interview. We’ve also seen applicants copy skills and tasks from previous job descriptions from the job posting and paste it onto their CV’s — recruiters won’t take you seriously if you do that. Recruiters are also inundated with 100’s of CV’s, so make sure you showcase all of your relevant information upfront.

Most jobs at CTG have a 7-day turnaround time, so chances are slim that your CV will be looked at again if it’s incomplete.

Tip: Update your CV every six months and make sure you attach an English copy.

Incomplete and error-riddled applications

When you’re busy with your application, make sure you have the correct references and inform them that they might be contacted. Upload relevant, updated ID documents and passports that are not expired. We’ve received applications before where applicants forgot to attach the CV. So check and double check.

The turnaround is very fast so you need to be meticulous when completing your application. Don’t apply for roles you’re not qualified for and don’t lie about language skills. Keep the majority of your applications targeted to your transferable skillsets and areas of expertise for a greater chance of success.

Read here to see tips from the CTG RRAD team on  how you can stand out from the crowd and get the humanitarian or development job you want.

Tip: Get a friend or family member to double check your application.


Potential candidates should always list their availability and salary expectation. Do your research to make sure you give a fair and reasonable salary expectation. Some positions have a strict budget and if the salary expectation is too high you might not be considered for the role. Once you’ve established an amount with the recruitment company or agent, do not negotiate with the client to try and get more.  

Tip: If you’re only in it for the money, it might not be the best fit for you.


During the interview process, it’s important to be as descriptive as you can and stay away from one-word answers. This is the best time to articulate your value and speak about your experiences. You may be really qualified for the position but if you can’t relay your experience the recruiter might not have confidence in your abilities. Make sure you know what’s on your CV. We’ve interviewed potential candidates before who forgot what information they’ve put on their CV’s.

CTG’s recruitment team screens all the humanitarian job applicants and then contacts the applicants best suited for the role via a phone or Skype call depending on where the candidate is based and how good their network connection is. The interview questions are competency-based, where we also inform the applicant about the terms for the role (duration, salary, duty station etc.)

Tip: Read here for more advice on how to prepare for your humanitarian job interview.

Somalia food distribution

CTG Consultants monitoring food distribution in Jowhar, Somalia


Some humanitarian job applicants assume humanitarian jobs offer family benefits and that you can bring your family along. Humanitarians, especially CTG consultants, often work in fragile locations that aren’t suitable for families. Many international consultants trivialise the hostility of the environment, as they don’t do enough research on the country they could potentially be working in.

Tip: Do your research and never assume.

Are you a humanitarian job seeker? Sign up via our portal and view all our current opportunities to find positions that match your skills and interests.

Applied for a job with CTG? Once we’ve shortlisted your profile you’ll get an auto-generated email, you can expect a phone call from us to follow.