This is one of the best self-help article in my blog:  What makes a good cover letter that is helpful for me and the clients?  I often get cover letters that merely summarize what is obvious in the CV/resume.  When a cover letter is requested, it is not our aim to just give you more busy work.  It is an opportunity for you to give us some additional information that may not be in your CV.  Or it is a way to have you give the various recruiters that will be reviewing your information to get more info that is  targeted to the job ad or position description.  The best cover letters are those that address all the qualifications requirements or job specifications in the position description and shows the reviewer how you have that required experience. 

Here is some important advice for cover letters directed to International Development sector organizations:

  1. Take the time to write a targeted cover letter for each employer. This means customizing each cover letter you write, so it specifically relates your skills to the job you are applying for.
  2. State why you are writing, indicating your interest in the job and name the job you are applying for.
  3. A cover letter should complement, not duplicate, your resume.
  4. Identify your most relevant skills and experiences. Don't just duplicate your resume. Rather, include the skills that most match the job.
  5. This is most important:  Refer to the qualifications for the position and illustrate how your abilities relate.  I can't emphasis this point enough --- the best cover letters I have received listed the required qualifications requirements bullet by bullet and answered how the candidate met that requirement.  It is important that you address all required experience and not just those where you have the experience while leaving out those that you don't meet.  It is OK to say “I don't meet this requirement" and it will not necessarily leave you out.  It may endear you to the hiring agent for being transparent and honest about your capabilities.
  6. Emphasize your achievements throughout your letter without being too wordy.
  7. In closing, communicate your interest, motivation, and strengths.

And always, we ask the impossible: We ask that you try to do all the above and be as brief as possible and to the point.  But remember that if you stick to answering the bullet points that are in the qualifications requirements, that you will have a good cover letter.

There is no need to write volumes about what is in your CV.  Most recruiters don't have a lot of time to read every word of text that is in your cover letter and CV and we tend to scan the document to find the particular experience we are looking for.  The most experienced recruiters do this in less than 2 minutes.  Some of the clients that have given me recruitment contracts tell me their recruiters have 50 - 100 positions to fill at any one time --and often very few days to fill them.  I have the luxury to try to limit myself to no more than 8 or 9 recruitments at any one time.  That is why you get to communicate with or hear from me much more than you might with other recruiters working for the larger organizations in International Development.  They are not mean or rude in not answering your inquiries of phone calls, they are simply overworked.

I hope this has helped to clarify information you needed about Cover Letters.    

Warm regards,   
Linda Aines, 
Aines International  
May 2018 

  • Helping with additional info for Evacuations of Afghans September 10, 2021

    Hello again, I continue to receive helpful advice and lists of resources and organizations that are helping our friends in Afghanistan. The most important piece of information i received is a "Checklist for Afghans: How to Minimise Risk through Data on Phones/Devices", written in both English and Pashto. Please share this document widely with Afghans who have Western contacts - it is crucial they see this helpful info ASAP: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19GPJDmMLPagNnbumZwmKZGJaIiRMFmHiJKtuvmL6wl8/mobilebasic?fbclid=IwAR09QNYMXh513v2zzkqo877voDfurQ-O339MpaZ9TJUfSSeoCV0qEwIaLio . This very valuable information was obtained from The Crecendo Group, a US and international humanitarian organization that has compiled resources for Support for Afghan Allies. For instance there is a list of SIV and P-2 contact info for some of the larger contractors in Afghanistan that can help former employees no longer employed by such organizations but that still need those contacts to initiate and...

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  • Partial List of SIV/ P2 contact info for USAID contractors and USG partners September 10, 2021

    Thanks to Carrie Hasselback, (Dexis)   I can share these valuable contact for SIV-P2 visas help. Carrie wrote: In case it is useful to anyone I know in Afghanistan or my friends who have worked in Afghanistan in the past, below I have compiled the SIV contact info for some of the larger USAID contractors. Additionally, the DOS just shared this:"DoS has established a SIV hotline to answer calls. While the line is currently overwhelmed with calls, they are staffing up as quickly as possible. IMPORTANTLY, DoS is sending texts and emails to those SIV applicants who are eligible for evacuation, informing them they should make their way to HKIA, if possible.DoS SIV Hotline: 1-888-407-4747. Alternate number (same message) is 202-501-4444."Deloitte: Contact this email address if your loved ones worked for Deloitte in Afghanistan and need recommendation or HR letters. usdeloitteafghanSIV@deloitte.comChemonics: Individuals who have worked with Chemonics International in Afghanistan can use the following...

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  • Organizations Helping with additional Evacuations of Afghans September 2, 2021

    Now that the US and international forces have vacated the Airport, there are no more flights taking people out of Afghanistan – All has gone still for now. Several consultants wrote in to say, we need to inform our Afghan colleagues to stay low and hunker down to stay safe. They should destroy pictures that link them to their US jobs and history. They need to take the SIM card out of their cell phone, reconnect it with a VPN, switch to using the encrypted messaging app “Signal” rather than What's App (which is less secure) and start removing photos and other identifiers from social media.   Organizations Helping with additional Evacuations of Afghans: One consultant wrote: “I believe that the emergency agencies still operating in the country can be a focal point in the immediate. Medicines Sans Frontiers, Emergency, etc. First action will be to map who is still in the country. “ Another wrote "Completing the SIV visa application proved futile for those Afghans who had worked for...

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  • Help for Newly Arriving Afghans to the US --Go Fund Me and Fundraising September 2, 2021

       It has been a difficult few week as the world watches the situation unfold in Kabul. Many of us are asking, what can we do as individuals while we also call upon our governments to prioritize the evacuation of Afghan women leaders and ensure the protection of women's rights inside of Afghanistan in the short, mid and long term.  The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security have assembled this list of urgent actions that you or your organization can take to save the lives of our Afghan sisters.  Make A Donation of Any Amount to Provide Humanitarian Aid and Safe Houses  Support humanitarian aid to internally displaced people. Contribute to this GoFundMe campaign, at any level, organized by Afghan activist Samira Hamidi and administered through local volunteers who are getting aid directly to those in need.  Support safe houses that are protecting women in Afghanistan targeted by the Taliban. Contribute to this GoFundMe campaign, at any level, organized by the Women’s Regional...

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  • Working abroad: How to prepare your finances August 11, 2019

    This article has been written on behalf of Bankrate, by Andrew Paniello, (February 5, 2019) Freelance Writer.   As the world becomes more globalized and traveling to distant places has become widely accessible, an increased number of Americans are finding themselves with opportunities to work abroad. However, while these new opportunities can often be quite exciting and rewarding, they all still require a large amount of preparation. Many expatriates tend to overlook the financial planning process of their overseas adventure. In addition to creating a well thought out budget for the trip, there are many other essential details that will need to be accounted for. Fortunately, we have created a detailed guide to help anyone going abroad prepare themselves financially. By making an effort to assure that your finances are well-kept, you will be able to have the life-changing experience that you’re hoping for.

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  • Cover Letters reloaded: How to Write them so you get to the Next Level May 15, 2018

    This is one of the best self-help article in my blog:  What makes a good cover letter that is helpful for me and the clients?  I often get cover letters that merely summarize what is obvious in the CV/resume.  When a cover letter is requested, it is not our aim to just give you more busy work.  It is an opportunity for you to give us some additional information that may not be in your CV.  Or it is a way to have you give the various recruiters that will be reviewing your information to get more info that is  targeted to the job ad or position description.  The best cover letters are those that address all the qualifications requirements or job specifications in the position description and shows the reviewer how you have that required experience.  Here is some important advice for cover letters directed to International Development sector organizations:

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  • Tips for Finding your next assignment - Reloaded January 13, 2016

    Tips for Finding your Next Assignment in International Development A few years ago, I was the presenter for the Foreign Policy Association's Global Careers Boot Camp series in Boston. The workshop was about how to "Land a job in International Development" for new entrants, or individuals transitioning from other sectors into the international development sector. This made me reflect about the type of information that may be useful to you, when trying to find your next assignment. I am hearing from many managers in the field that they will be seeking new projects very soon. Recently, there has also been a big push by donor organizations to hire more locals, national workers and fewer expats. This means that there is likely to be much more competition for getting choice positions on fewer projects in the future. Therefore, there will be a need for a smarter approach to applying for international development positions. While some of you may be on my email list and receive my alerts when I...

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  • Important Fraud Alert: August 17, 2015

    Fraud - Scam Alert:  An individual claiming to represent me or or Aines International has been selling employment help to individuals in Pakistan and possibly South Asian countries, claiming he can procure them jobs,  such as USAID, UN, or other International Development sector jobs. He extracts fees for this promise of employment and never delivers. Letters from linda.aines@hotmail.com are fraudulant!This Scam being conducted by someone who sometimes goes by the name of Dr. K. Mehmood, (citizen of Pakistan,) and sends or shows letter or emails from a (linda.aines@hotmail.com ) to give himself glowing references, or bolster his association to me or this firm. Be aware this email address is fraudulent, as well anyone claiming to provide jobs for fees. Any letters, or references, from Linda.aines@hotmail.com is a SCAM -not written  by me- and all claims should be doubly checked for authenticity.  Any communication or claims on this email address is likely to be written by Mr. or "Dr...

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  • How to Have a Better Resume for International Development Job Applications May 11, 2015

    Among the most important elements of applying for a position with a firm in the international development sector, is to present a CV/resume that is easy to review for everyone in the organization you are applying to.  That includes the first line recruiters, the Hiring Agent and all the way to the CEO of the firm.   In the US, most International Development sector  organization seem to prefer the longer, more detailed, chronological format resumes.  This is quite different than the short one-page resumes that businesses in the private sector prefer.  The hiring agents in the development sector need information that quickly shows the applicant meets the minimum qualifications requirements listed on the position description.   This can be easily be shown in the bold headings of each professional entries with a set of quick critical pieces of information that gives the readers critical information. This information is comprised of six items listed in detail below and, as a regular blogger on this...

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  • New CV Reformatting Service now being offered by Aines International April 11, 2015

    Due to an increase in requests for help with our consultants' CVs/Resumes, Aines International is now offering a resume reformatting service.  (For those who want it, a small prepaid fee of $230 will be charged, via PayPal or similar Quick Pay system.)  However, we still encourage anyone to reformat their own CV for free and to avail themselves of the  advice that is freely given about CV/Resumes  on the Aines International website (www.internationalink.net).  To obtain the resume reformatting, just send an email to linda.aines@internationalink.net and request the service. One of the most important element of applying for a position with a firm in the international development sector is to have a CV/resume that is easy to review  for everyone in the employer's...

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  • How Recruiters get in a Bad Mood when Reviewing Applicants November 13, 2014

    Recruiters are on tight schedules and, when reviewing a potential candidate for a job, have to move quickly. This often means taking only a few minutes to scan resumes before deciding on who will be invited for an interview, or who will be referred to the hiring agent. During a recruitment, recruiters are on the lookout for specific candidates with specific skill sets. If they have to try to “guess” if you have that skill set or the experience they are seeking, they will just move on!  An applicant may be completely qualified for the job, but a disorganized, poorly-written resume and, one where applicant has buried their experience in a lot of text, will take them out of the running.  Though resume writing norms differ from country to country, and sector to sector, there are several common mistakes that professionals make when applying for a position. Here are common mistakes to avoid: 1) Using the same resume/CV and cover letter for every job.   It is a fact: job seekers can look...

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  • Your LinkedIn profile --- Treat it as your Workplace May 28, 2014

    LinkedIn is a wonderful tool for showing the professional that you are and bringing forth your body of work for employers, recruiters, and colleagues, to see.  It is one of today’s most important social network tools of the work place.   But remember this:  it is not Facebook.  Be careful of inappropriate pictures and incomplete work profile.  Anywhere you would post your professional experience or resume should be treated like your workplace or mirror you as a mature professional.  The majority of people who want to view your LinkedIn profile are bosses, potential employers, recruiters, employees, and colleague, so be sure to show your profile in the best light possible to obtain that next interview or job. Here are some tips to keep your LinkedIn profile in top professional shape– and make sure that you don’t end up in the “reject” pile. Have a Complete Profile and review it often:  Many job candidates ask recruiters to check their LinkedIn Profiles in lieu of sending a CV/resume, fully...

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  • Ten suggestions for Finding International Development Jobs or Internships February 9, 2014

    In my last blog, I wrote about suggestions and resources for breaking into International Development.  I write about this topic because, in my daily mails, I often get emails from professionals, and students, asking how to break in or make the transition into the International Development sector.   As a follow-up to my last blog article, here are 10 suggestions for finding International Development jobs or internships:

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  • Suggestions and Resources for breaking into International Development January 17, 2014

    In my daily emails, I often get letters from professionals, both entry level or late career, asking how to break in or make the transition into the international development sector.  Although an individual may have international experience, this does not guarantee a lateral move or easy entry into the international development sector.  The development sector can be attractive to college graduates and also executives weary of the ups and downs of labor market affected by cyclical economic fluctuations.  Development sector jobs, which are created and funded by large donor organizations and their contractors, are less cyclical and include the various posts needed for managing/implementing foreign aid, humanitarian programs/projects in developing countries worldwide.   Such post may be challenging but they are attractive and even addictive to those who crave adventure, travel and excitement of creating solutions or resources that can make a big difference. It is best to start in your own...

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  • How to Have A Better Resume for International Development July 17, 2013

    One of the most important element of applying for a position with a firm in the international development sector is to have a CV/resume that is easy to review  for everyone in the employer's organization.  That includes the first line recruiters,  the Hiring Agent and all the way to the CEO of the firm.   In the US, most International Development sector  organization seem to prefer the longer, more detailed, chronological format resumes.  This is quite different than  the short one-page resumes that businesses in the private sector prefer.  The employers in this sector also need a set of critical information  to be within each professional entries that quickly shows the applicant meets the minimum qualifications requirements listed on the position description.   This information is comprised of six items listed in detail below and, as a regular blogger on this site, I will come back to it often as it is an important tool, critical to bringing applicants to the short list of the hiring agents....

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  • Aines presenting at Foreign Policy Association program in Boston April 22, 2012

    On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, I will be in Boston providing an instructional program titled "Landing a Job in International Development". The program is being sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association that is offering several multi-city program (also being offered in New York City during April) addressing how careers in international development offer excitement and the chance to work toward the greater good.

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  • Meet Linda Aines December 5, 2011

      (a partial biography)   Hi, my name is Linda Aines. I am an independent recruiter that specializes in International Development and foreign projects. I am hired by US contractors to USAID, or other large Donor organizations, or government entities that have projects in various developing countries. I own my own business, Aines International that provides recruitment services and some HR services for International Development Organizations. My current involvement in the International Development Sector has gradually evolved over the past 20 years.  As an Associate Professor at the University of Vermont (UVM), I became more and more involved in international trade and in developing resources for businesses.  From 1990 to 2002, I served as Business and Export Specialist at the University of Vermont (UVM) and developed & implemented an Export Assistance Program for small businesses. The Program served as resource center,   which provided marketing and export assistance and education, for...

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  • How to Have A Better Resume for International Development August 26, 2011

    How to Have a Better Resume for International Development Job Applications Among the most important elements of applying for a position with a firm in the international development sector, is to present a CV/resume that is easy to review for everyone in the organization you are applying to.  That includes the first line recruiters, the Hiring Agent and all the way to the CEO of the firm.   In the US, most International Development sector  organization seem to prefer the longer, more detailed, chronological format resumes.  This is quite different than the short one-page resumes that businesses in the private sector prefer.  The hiring agents in the development sector need information that quickly shows the applicant meets the minimum qualifications requirements listed on the position description.   This can be easily be shown in the bold headings of each professional entries with a set of quick critical pieces of information that gives the readers critical information. This information is...

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