Jobs data

What are the key search terms for international development jobs in your country?

Knowing interest in key search words over time and where they are most popular can help you navigate your development job search.

Google Trends allows us some interesting insights into these two areas.

Stay tuned to the end to see how these searches have evolved — and what it could mean for your job search strategy. 

Interest over time

A common set of global development job search terms people use on Google include:

  • NGO jobs
  • World Bank jobs
  • United Nations jobs
  • UN careers
  • International development jobs

This is how the frequency of each term compares to one another in 2017:

Go ahead and click or tap on the chart for some more insights.

Let’s get a bit technical for a second to understand what this information tells us.

In these trends, Google uses a benchmark of “100” to show the interest in each search term relative to the term with the highest interest in a region, country or point in time. In their own words:

“Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.”

So what does this chart say?

Between 1 January and 31 December 2017, people searched on Google for “NGO jobs” FAR more often than they did the other popular keywords.

You can also see the seasonality of when job seekers look for international development jobs.

The interest in “NGO jobs” stays roughly the same from the beginning of the year in January until hitting one high point in mid-February. Then there are ups and downs until a general plateau in the summer for June and most of July.

The highest point of the year, though, takes place in the last two weeks of July. Does this match with students looking for internships in the fall or some other pattern?

After July, there’s a general decline in going into the last few days of December.

Interest by region

By Google’s own words again, interest by region is shown relative to the highest ranking region:

“See which term ranked highest in each region during the specified time frame. Values are scaled from 0 to 100, where 100 is the region with peak popularity, a value of 50 is the region where the term is half as popular, and a value of 0 means that term was less than 1% as popular as the peak.”

This chart shows interest in each of our key words by region in calendar year 2017.

In Canada and the United States, job seekers search for “United Nations jobs” much more often than the other search terms. Meanwhile, Mexico, Colombia, several countries in Western Europe and in Africa, DR Congo, C’ote d’Ivoire and Ghana – search for “UN careers” more frequently.

“NGO jobs” seem to be more common in Asia as a whole and in Australia. In Africa and Western Europe, it depends on which country you’re in.

Brazil seems to be the most interested in “World Bank jobs”.

One thing to note: the interest is low across these. So these aren’t overall very popular search words.

Long-term international development job keyword trends

With this, let’s turn back to the very first chart. It shows the interest in these keywords from 2004 to the time of writing (April 14, 2018).

Searches for “United Nations jobs” at the very start of the period in 2004 set the benchmark. With some ups and downs, interest in “United Nations jobs” declines until around November 2008 to go back up to a peak in January 2010. Ever since then, there has been a long-term decline, with April 2018 being the lowest relative point of interest in “United Nations jobs” globally.

Relative interest in “NGO jobs” from 2004 to 2008 is about the same, until you see an upward trend to settle into being the most common keyword of those ones we’re studying here since about September 2010, hitting its own peak in August 2015 – right before the United Nations summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Interest in the keyword “UN careers” is low through the late-noughties (from 2004-2010), after which there’s a general upward trend culminating in its own peak in September 2012, then falling back down to a stable interest just below that of “UN jobs”.

By contrast, relative interest in “World Bank jobs” seems to be roughly stable since 2004 reaching a peak in January 2010, but otherwise returning to its stable level of relative interest.

Key word strategies

I pulled the following table by looking at the top 5 countries by key word search, and looking at the related queries to each of the keyword searches.

Again, it uses Google’s benchmarking of relative interest to the country with the highest interest in that keyword.

Perhaps it can help inspire your own job search based on what others are using in Google – or to help differentiate yourself.

ngo jobs   related queries
South Sudan 100 ngo jobs 2018
Zimbabwe 6 ngo jobs in kenya 2018
Uganda 6 ignou
Ethiopia 5 latest ngo jobs in maiduguri
Kenya 5 ngo jobs in kenya 2017
world bank jobs   related queries
Malawi 100 afdb jobs
Uganda 83 world bank jobs in uganda
Ethiopia 50 imf jobs
Kenya 48 world bank kenya jobs
Zambia 34
united nations jobs   related queries
Uganda 100 united nations entry level jobs
Zambia 73 world bank jobs
Kenya 40 united nations nyc
Zimbabwe 30
Ghana 19
un careers   related queries
Uganda 100 inditex careers
Kenya 81 unhcr
Congo 45 un women careers
Burkina Faso 43
Lebanon 38
international development jobs   related queries
Kenya 100 international development studies jobs
United Kingdom 33
Canada 25
Pakistan 24
Nigeria 22
afdb jobs   related queries
Cote d’Ivoire 100 (None available)
Ghana 65
Kenya 29
United States <1
UNDP jobs   related queries
Afghanistan 100 undp jobs 2017
Burundi 81 undp sri lanka jobs
Somalia 68 undp bd jobs
Uganda 50 un careers
Fiji 45 linkedin

You can use the insights into the keyword trends, how often they are used and in which countries to refine your job search strategy as you look for your next opportunity in global development. Start with seeing which terms can give you the best chances to stand-out and to assess where job demand and supply my be strongest based.

What are the main keywords you use when you’re looking for a new development job? Tell us in the comments.


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