Consultancies at International Financial Institutions

A consultancy is a great way to start a career at an International Financial Institution. Building and accessing networks is crucial to finding consultancy opportunities.

What is consultancy?

IFIsInternational Financial Institutions regularly hire consultants to provide knowledge, expertise and skills for a specific project or mandate. Consultants, in contrast to short-term employees, are not regular staff members, but independent contractors commissioned for a limited period.

But what most people don’t know is that consultancies are an excellent way to start a career in an IFIInternational Financial Institution ! The competition for consultancies is usually lower than for regular staff positions, and consultants are in an outstanding position to build a network and create a comparative advantage when applying for regular positions afterwards.

Consultancies are a great way to access IFIs and to build a network.

Katharina Falkner-Olmedo, IDBInter-American Development Bank

Contract types and duration

Most IFIs distinguish between short- and long-term consultancy contracts, and the African Development Bank (AfDBAfrican Development Bank ) also has a third medium-term category. Long-term consultancies are usually of at least a year’s duration and entail full-time work on a specific project. In some IFIs they can be extended for up to four years. At the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Defined Term Contractual (DTC) contracts may even be renewed beyond four years, provided there is a six-month break between contracts. Short-term consultancies can last between one day and two years, depending on the IFI and the specific assignment. Some IFIs also offer consultancies on an hourly or part-time basis.

Salaries and benefits

Although consultants generally do not receive the same benefits as staff members, depending on the length of the assignment, most IFIs provide for annual leave, a pension scheme, etc., in addition to a competitive salary. The IDB offers a range of additional benefits, making consultancies very attractive. Moreover, a consultancy allows you to identify areas where there is a need for support and to prove your abilities in these areas. Starting with a consultancy can also be a good way to assess whether you would like to pursue a long-term career with the institution.

Requirements

Just as with regular staff positions, most consultancies require several years of professional experience. However, some IFIs also offer consultancies for professionals with less work experience. An academic degree and English language proficiency are requirements for all consultancies, and, depending on the duty station, additional languages may be necessary. Consultants must also possess similar soft skills to regular staff members.

Application and recruitment

Long-term consultancies are generally advertised on the IFI’s career webpage or separately. The Asian Development Bank (ADBAsian Development Bank ) has its own Consultant Management System (CMS) where you can create a profile, search, and apply directly. Other IFIs, such as the AfDB, receive applications through their online recruitment system and process applications similarly to a regular vacancy. Usually, only short-listed candidates are contacted.

Networking is key

Some consultancies, especially short-term and junior consultancies, are not publicly advertised. Therefore, building a network is key to starting a career at an IFI. We recommend starting with your current network and sharing your interest in working for an IFI. Make sure to include some of them as references in your CV should you apply for a consultancy. Most consultants are recruited based on an emerging need, and candidates are screened faster than normal vacancies. Once you have established some contacts, keep an eye open for opportunities. It is important to keep in mind that IFI employees rely on their own network – so remain confident!

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