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What’s Behind the Catchphrase We’re hiring!: A World Bank Human Resources Team Tours Africa to Demystify Recruitment and Career Opportunities

November 12, 2015


The World Bank Human Resources team hosted outreach events in Dakar, Nairobi, Johannesburg, and Lagos to discuss careers and recruitment programs at the Bank.

  • The World Bank Human Resources team hosted outreach events in Dakar, Nairobi, Johannesburg, and Lagos to shed light on the scope of Bank activities and positions, as well as the African Nationals Recruitment Drive.
  • By going directly to many of Africa’s top learning institutions, the team is committed to building relationships with these universities to field Africa’s best talent.
  • The recruitment mission provided opportunities for students, professors, and professionals to exchange personally with World Bank human resources staff and for staff to impart strategies and techniques they believe give candidates an edge on the competition.

DAKAR, November 12, 2015 – Those who have spent time searching and applying for jobs in the field of development know that the competition is stiff, the vacancies are limited, and more often than not, the hiring process is opaque.

While there is truth in such clichés, there are also many misconceptions of the people who work for international organizations, particularly the World Bank, such as: “they must all be bankers with degrees in finance”, or “they are all Harvard graduates”, or even something to the tune of “you must have 20 years of experience and a PhD.” Such stereotypes have the power to dissuade talent from applying to employment opportunities even when they are available, and it is a real loss for both parties.

“The tendency is to think that those who work at the World Bank are supermen,” said Serge Bogbe, an Ivorian MBA student. “But today I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they are people just like us, and that they are approachable and willing to exchange with us on a personal level.”  Bogbe had just attended a forum organized by the World Bank Group and hosted at the African Center for Higher Studies in Management (Centre Africain d’Etudes Superieures en Gestion or CESAG) in Dakar, one of several outreach events that took place across the African continent, notably in Nairobi, Johannesburg, and Lagos. It’s a first for the World Bank, and the tour comes at the heels of a recent African Nationals Recruitment Drive, another first for the Bank.


Serge Bogbe, an Ivorian student at the African Center for Higher Studies in Management, participates in a World Bank Group recruitment event.  

The goal of these recruitment missions is three fold: explain the motivation behind the recent recruitment drive along with its expectations and realities, establish relationships with top universities and institutions in Africa for future recruiting efforts, and exchange with potential talent and those interested in working for the Bank. The missions were led by members of the World Bank Human Resources team and colleagues from the Information Technology Solutions unit of the World Bank.

It was also a way for Geremie Sawadogo, Manager for Talent Acquisition, and his team, to address lingering stereotypes about who works for the Bank. A native Burkinabe, he would have never seen himself at the World Bank twenty years ago. “Just like many others, when I finished my doctorate at the University of Iowa, I did not think of the World Bank as an employer of choice. Back then, I thought that you needed to know someone to have a chance.  There was also a widely circulated rumor that it was a tough place to get hired if you were an African - so, I never even bothered to try. I am here today to convey to prospective candidates that none of this is true and to encourage them to consider the World Bank Group as a potential employer.”

According to Sawadogo, there is little understanding of the scope of positions that are possible at the World Bank, the IFC, and MIGA, and he made it his priority to present as many sectors as possible and have Bank team members explain the kinds of profiles that make good fits for these units. He was also honest about highlighting the fact that certain sectors such as information technologies (IT) and the investment officers’ team, currently have more recruiting needs than others.

When it came to the African Nationals Recruitment Drive, again, Sawadogo was frank in conveying the reasons and realities behind the initiative. “The World Bank does not have quotas, but rather diversity targets. Since we are shy of our target for African Nationals, this is a way to increase our numbers. The process is highly selective, and out of 50,000 applications received, we will only be selecting 64 candidates with the commitment to continue drawing on the pool of qualified candidates from this drive to fill future positions,” said Sawadogo to a crowded amphitheater at CESAG.

To many, that may be a reason in itself to be discouraged to apply, however the World Bank team was keen to further explain the pipeline system that will retain the applications of shortlisted candidates and call upon them when future positions open up. They also explained the World Bank’s flagship programs: the Analyst Program for those under 28 years of age, the Young Professionals Program for those under 32 years of age, and the Internship Program. All three are opportunities for young talent to gain experience at the World Bank and potentially begin a lifelong career. That said, the programs are as selective as the hiring process, and it was important for the team to be able to explain the strategies and techniques they believe give candidates an edge on the competition.

“I congratulate the World Bank for this initiative. As a professor, it is important for me to know what employers are looking for in students, and I feel like the World Bank did a good job of explaining what is expected from candidates when they apply,” noted Mariam Nzianzan, a professor of marketing and business strategy at CESAG. “I found the presentation on internships interesting, as many African students have trouble getting high profile work experience during their studies and early on in their careers. I hope it continues to develop.”

“I’d like to thank the World Bank for this presentation which consisted in coming directly to universities to talk about the institution’s activities and opportunities,” echoed Serge Bogbe. He was one of the many students at CESAG who was able to ask questions directly to the World Bank Group panel during the event and network afterwards. Following the forum at CESAG, question and answer sessions also took place later in the week at the African Management Institute (IAM) and the International Institution for Telecommunications Higher Learning (ESMT), both top notch learning centers in Dakar. 

The World Bank Group is committed to building lasting partnerships with the best universities on the continent to not only field the “crème de la crème” of African talent, but also to explore other collaborative opportunities in the field of research, knowledge sharing, and career advising.

To learn more about job opportunities at the World Bank, visit http://wrld.bg/SQ1CZ