IC-Hub Live followup: Getting EU-funded development consultancy work
Updated: Mar 15
Hey everyone, Loksan and Molly here. We really appreciated Daniel Hartwell’s (VJW International) time and insights at Wednesday's (10/02/21) IC-Hub Live. We learned a lot, especially from the Q&A period.
We are also conscious that for some of the audience, the content might have been a bit technical or overwhelming, so we thought we’d type up a quick summary to share our key takeaways. We also had some technical issues so could share the recording.
We also should stress that we are talking about a very specific type of consultancy here. If you do not have the profile that makes you suited to this specific type of consultancy, then continue with your market research to find out what types of consultancy do suit your interests and profile.
What type of consultancy work were we talking about?
We were talking about consultancy opportunities working with consulting firms who deliver EU development cooperation assistance.
The European Commission signs Framework Contracts with consortia (groups) of consulting firms who become "preferred suppliers" to deliver certain services.
These are divided into “Lots”, or specific areas of expertise. These consulting firms then respond to requests from the EC and identify independent consultants to work with them to deliver the work.
Some examples of projects (that Daniel/VJW have recently hired consultants for):
Support to EU Joint Programming and EU Joint Implementation in Kenya and support to the Development Partners group.
Technical Assistance to Joint Programming and Aid Effectiveness in Mozambique.
Final Evaluation of the "Support the Platform for Policy Dialogue and Cooperation between EU and China on Emission Trading” project.
Whom are these opportunities suited to?
These are relatively technical assignments that tend to require consultants with:
Prior career experience (5 years for the most junior “Category III expert” positions, 12 years for more senior “Category I expert” positions).
Experience working in or with EU and national government institutions, such as an EU Delegation or a European Commission Directorate-General. UN experience is also relevant.
Clear thematic specialism (so, this type of consulting would be more relevant to a consultant like Loksan (migration specialist), rather than a skills-based specialist like Molly (fundraising specialist)). Your thematic specialism needs to be narrow and specific, as they are unlikely to consider tangentially related experience as relevant to meet their criteria.
Monitoring & evaluation experts are also prized.
The European Commission has created a rather rigid framework for selecting consultants. They’ve tried to make it as objective as possible, so they will look for proven years of experience and specific keywords in your CV. These quantitative measures will count more than qualitative traits like your personality.
As alluded to above, if you are not suited to these consultancies, do not despair. Many other types of consultancy opportunities exist. Other client organisations will take a less rigid, broader, more subjective, qualitative, and relationship-based approach to contracting consultants.
How to access these opportunities?
Keep an eye on upcoming opportunities. Many consulting firms post the opportunities that they are hiring for (see VJW’s current opportunities). VJW also posts opportunities on their Twitter and through Veronica and Daniel's LinkedIn accounts. Similar firms like Sofreco also post opportunities on their website.
You can register to the expert databases of consulting firms who work on these Framework Contracts - we recommend VJW’s database. Many firms also search for consultants by LinkedIn, so make sure you have the right keywords in your headline and description of previous work.
Identify which “Lots” (areas of specialism) are available, then look at which consortium (team of consulting firms) and constituent consulting firms are working on your Lot. Each consortium has a consortium leader. See also this top 10 EuropeAid contractors list.
Once you’re contacted by a consulting firm, the firm will propose your CV to their consortium. The consortium, especially its leader, will decide which candidates are then proposed as part of their bid for a given project.
You can be contacted by several firms for the same bid. You can have your CV proposed to be part of a bid by several firms but only if they are not from the same consortium (make sure you clarify which consortium the firm is part of). When choosing between firms, you should consider your relationship with the consulting firm (i.e. which one you like, which is why we recommend VJW), what fee they offer you, and whether or not they are the consortium leader, as it is the leader who makes the final decision on which consultants are proposed as part of the bid.
You’ll need to propose your CV in the EU format to the consulting firms (VJW has helpfully shared an English CV and French CV templates). Make sure you highlight/bold/underline the keywords in your CV that match the keywords of the consultancy terms of reference. If you'd led teams of consultants, make sure you describe such positions in your CV as "team leader". You may also later need to prove you have the number of years experience that you claim to have, such as through completion certificates.
Once your CV has been proposed, you will need to sign a statement of exclusivity to commit to working with the consulting firm if their bid is successful.
Feel free to get in touch with Daniel Hartwell (Daniel.Hartwell@vjwinternational.com) if you have any further questions or would like to share your CV.
Disclaimer: This article outlines our understanding of the process. Please get in touch if you notice any inaccuracies.