Consultancies at International Financial Institutions

A consultancy is an excellent way to start a career at an International Financial Institution. Consultants are independent contractors commissioned for a limited period of time. IFIs regularly hire consultants for specific projects or mandates.

But what most people don’t know is that many current staff members started off as consultants! 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 IFIsInternational Financial Institutions and to build a network.

Katharina Falkner-Olmedo, IDBInter-American Development Bank

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.

Latest research: «Consultancy opportunities at the UN and in IFIs»

How can a consultancy open a way to fixed-term employment? What is required to become a consultant? Where can information about hiring conditions and vacancies be found? Can consultancies also offer entry to junior professionals? cinfo's latest research provides an overview and answers to frequently asked questions.

Good to know

Contract & duration

Most IFIsInternational Financial Institutions distinguish between short- and long-term consultancy contracts.

Long-term consultancies are usually of at least one year duration and are tied to a specific project. In some IFIs they can be extended for up to 4 years. At the IDBInter-American Development Bank , they may even be renewed beyond 4 years, provided there is a 6-month break between contracts.

Short-term consultancies can last between one day and 2 years, depending on the IFIInternational Financial Institution and the specific assignment. Some IFIs also offer consultancies on an hourly or part-time basis.

Next: entitlements
Entitlements

Consultants at IFIsInternational Financial Institutions receive a competitive salary that is usually tax-exempt.

Depending on the institution and the length of the assignment, some IFIs further provide annual leave, medical insurance, and other benefits that can make consultancies very attractive.
See for example a summary of benefits at the World Bank Group.

Next: requirements
Requirements

Most consultancies require several years of professional experience. However, some IFIsInternational Financial Institutions also offer consultancies for professionals with less work experience.

An academic degree and English language proficiency are usually required for consultancies. Depending on the duty station, additional languages may be necessary.

Consultants must also possess 'soft skills' relevant to the position, similar to regular staff members.

Next: application & recruitment
Application & recruitment

Long-term consultancies are generally advertised on the IFIInternational Financial Institution ’s career webpage (see box on this webpage) or separately. They are usually processed through an online recruitment system, where you can search and apply for individual consultancies.

Certain IFIsInternational Financial Institutions , such as the AfDB and EBRD, maintain pools, rosters or databases of candidates with profiles deemed potentially suitable for consultancies. Candidates may be contacted directly when a suitable assignment becomes available. 

Some consultancies, especially short-term and junior consultancies, are not publicly advertised. Building a network is key to finding such opportunities.

How to land a consultancy

Building a network and maintaining valuable contacts is crucial to finding consultancy opportunities.

  • Conduct research about the IFIInternational Financial Institution 's functioning and operations, identify people in charge of interesting projects, and get in touch with them
  • Attend career fairs and networking events, pass your CV on to relevant contacts, and make sure to include these as references in your application
  • Follow and contribute to thematic discussions on social media, particularly LinkedIn
  • If you are Swiss, check out the various support services that cinfo can offer you
  • Regularly screen and apply for consultancies advertised online
  • If applicable, register on the IFI's consultant database and keep your profile up-to-date 
  • If you are invited for an interview, register for an Interview Preparation session
  • Once you are hired as a consultant, keep expanding your network and continue to look out for opportunities

 It is important to remember that IFI employees rely on their own network – so stay confident!

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