While we were Young Professionals, our Linkedin, Facebook, and email accounts regularly received requests for advice from aspiring YPs. The most common CV or resume and application essay mistakes we saw were CVs without clear specializations and essays that were just prose versions of CVs. First, let us focus on the CV or resume since that is the start of every job application.
Specialization (or Lack Thereof) in a CV or Resume
Unfortunately, we have seen many aspiring YP CVs that contain a jumble of different experiences and lack a coherent specialization. While most career articles advise tailoring your CV or resume to a job description, there is no “job description” per se for World Bank Young Professionals and that makes it so hard for applicants. Still, our number one tip for World Bank YPP applicants is: tailor your application to a World Bank global practice, theme or unit. List of global practices, themes and units
Think of the Global Practices, themes and units (GPs for short) as the different departments inside the World Bank. These global practices are the hiring departments that ultimately extend World Bank YPP job offers. If you receive a World Bank YPP offer, your contract will be with a global practice. It will not be with the central Young Professional unit.
Given that it is the global practice leads and managers who interview YPs and extend offers, your application should be tailored to their needs. You should demonstrate what expertise you have within their industry and what you can deliver for them based on your past projects.
Real life sample CV
Recently, I received a CV from a brilliant development professional. She graduated from SciencesPo with an undergraduate and a master's degree in public affairs and completed an MPhil in Development Studies from Oxford with distinction. While at Oxford, she did three months of fieldwork in country X to interview public and private sector stakeholders and presented thesis research at a UN-organization conference. She also passed CFA level 1. The candidate speaks French and English fluently. She interned at two corporate social responsibility firms and was a project officer at the International Organization for Migration.
After Oxford, she spent three years as a strategy analyst at a management consulting firm on a range of missions in large public and private organizations, covering performance management, financial modeling, operational process design and strategic reviews. She then spent another three years at a European development finance institution where she worked on their strategic framework, Africa expansion strategy, internal process review, change management program, sectoral strategies, on formalizing a new approach to development impact, and reviewing strategic positions. She managed senior stakeholder relationships, was promoted twice, and led two cross organizational teams.
So what is wrong with this profile?
Although she attended and worked at highly respected institutions and has a clear and sustained record of accomplishments, she does not clearly fit into any of the World Bank’s global practices.
She appears to be a generalist with a lot of experience in strategy development. However, there is no “strategy” global practice at the World Bank. While there are strategy positions available, these are not positions filled by Young Professionals. Instead, Young Professionals start out as economists or specialists within the global practices hence you should market yourself as a specialist in one or two global practices. Side note: for the first two years, your official internal title will be “Young Professional” but it will then switch to (name of practice) economist/specialist after you finish the young professionals program.
I advised the brilliant applicant to pull out the common industry topics from the strategy projects she worked on and align these with a World Bank global practice. At YPPmentor.com, we do not recommend presenting yourself as a regional specialist, for example a West Africa specialist, but to present yourself as an industry specialist because that is how the global practices are structured. (CV, essay, and application tips after the video)