JOB: Senior Advisor - Markets and Employment

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. 

In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions 

into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. 

Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps alleviates poverty, suffering, and oppression and works to build secure, productive, and just communities in over 40 countries around the world. Our Program Department supports field-led work that delivers measurable impact.  Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit (TSU) is a key part of the Program Department. TSU subject-matter experts help set agency strategy and provide consultation – from assessment and design through project implementation and results measurement – to field offices worldwide, in some of the world’s toughest places. TSU team members lead research, foster organizational learning, represent Mercy Corps to external audiences, and develop partnerships. The TSU is also integral to global business development and revenue.

The Markets, Economic Recovery and Growth (MERG) Unit supports the Agency’s work in market system development (MSD), private sector engagement, agriculture, employment and entrepreneurship, economic recovery, and financial inclusion.   A core part of that work is driving agency practice, learning, and thought leadership in applying market system approaches in fragile contexts and emergency responses.

General Position Summary

The senior advisor position focuses on providing expert technical support and capacity building to Mercy Corps field teams in employment and entrepreneurship.  As youth (ages 15-24) make up a large percentage of the populations we focus on, this demographic, and their specific needs, is a key focus of the work.  The support includes program design, partnership development and representation, helping to improve program quality, staying current on trends and best practices, building an evidence base on employment approaches, and disseminating information to internal and external partners.

The senior advisor position is a key member of the MERG TSU, and will take a leadership role in our market-driven employment and entrepreneurship programming, with an emphasis on youth populations.  This person will drive Mercy Corps strategy and activities in this area with a focus on promoting gender/age appropriate demand-driven skills development, and linkages to safe, decent and equitable work.  S/he will help us design and implement context-relevant employment programming, generate evidence of our approach, build field teams’ capacity in this area, and develop externally facing thought leadership to raise the agency’s profile. The senior advisor will continue momentum in the agency’s multi-sectoral, integrated approaches to youth engagement in agriculture, the complex nexus of youth employment and conflict, employment in fragile contexts, and overall market-systems approaches.  

The Senior Advisor is expected to have strong knowledge of MSD approaches and practices, particularly as applied to labor market programming.  S/he will also have experience applying this knowledge in fragile contexts as well as expertise in leading research and thought leadership activities.  The Senior Advisor is also expected to have a strong background in positive youth development and participatory approaches to designing and implementing market programming for specific populations. The Senior Advisor will collaborate closely with the Youth, Gender and Girls technical team and regional technical support teams.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Program and Proposal Development

  • Write/review proposals and concept notes for funding from donors including foundations, corporations and US, European, and UN agencies to support employment and entrepreneurship programming, particularly for youth populations.
  • Gather/analyze data and complete market assessments (particularly for labor markets), and support field teams to execute assessments, to determine job seekers and employers needs and priorities and Mercy Corps’ competitive advantage for funding.
  • Work with programs, country/regional teams, and technical support units on prepositioning and development of relevant strategies to drive Agency strategy.
  • Keep up to date on relevant strategies being developed or applied by significant peer agencies, governmental, academic, and non-profit groups. Work with Mercy Corps to determine how the agency can best work with and/or influence such materials.
  • Cultivate and nurture donor relationships and strategic partnerships that positively affect Mercy Corps ability to influence program strategies and proposal design, as well as strategic partnerships that result in stronger and more impactful employment and entrepreneurship programming.
  • Work closely with field leaders to influence their engagement and support of program pre-positioning, development and implementation.

Program Quality

  • Help maintain standards of program delivery that apply agency priorities and comply with relevant regulations and requirements.
  • Take leadership in identifying and addressing program quality needs. Collaborate with field leaders to problem solve.
  • Participate as an active, integrated member of the team providing technical support to a portfolio of field employment programs including those in complex crisis environments.
  • Support effective, gender/age appropriate interventions in employment and entrepreneurship, using integrated approaches and MSD thinking.
  • Build capacity with Mercy Corps staff and partners to better design and implement employment, entrepreneurship, and market-system development programs.

Learning and Impact

  • Lead agency-wide initiatives such as the research agenda around Influence priority topics.
  • Conduct assessments; write case studies, learning documents, short articles, and blogs; and develop internal and external disseminate plan for all products.
  • Support new and ongoing programs with best practice advice and assistance on assessment, implementation, research, and evaluation needs.
  • Nurture partnerships with universities, research institutions, and other organizations to produce case studies, assessments, and other learning documentation, as well as enhance program quality.
  • Provide in-country and remote training and support for Mercy Corps staff, partners, and others.
  • Lead relevant internal Communities of Practice

Policy, Advocacy, Representation

  • Represent Mercy Corps at academic events, conferences, media forums, and other events; contribute to thought leadership relative to employment and entrepreneurship with a focus on youth, and MSD.
  • Identify and nurture strategic partnerships with other organizations and institutions.
  • Present concepts and ideas to donors, partners, and peer organizations that influence them to drive innovation and positive change.
  • Participate in key learning networks such as the Global Center for Youth Employment, Alliance for Youth in International Development, etc.


Organizational Learning 

  • As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.

Accountability to Beneficiaries

  • Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically 

    to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Supervisory Responsibility

The position has supervisory responsibility over consultants, interns, and volunteers.


Reports Directly To: Deputy Director of MERG

Works Directly With: all other TSU teams, particularly Youth Gender and Girls, Research and Learning,  PaQ, regional technical teams and field teams

Knowledge and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree required. MBA, M.A, M.S., M.Sc., or equivalent in a field related to economic development, employment, private sector engagement, or youth development, and relevant technical certifications are preferred.
  • 5 to 7 years of experience providing increasingly proficient technical support in market development and employment that includes:
  • Preparing writing and analysis on proposal development.
  • Producing and publishing influential articles and blogs.
  • Leading all aspects of large and complex proposals and managing integrated proposal teams.
  • Experience in youth employment and programs specific to youth populations.
  • Leading market analyses, ideally labor market assessments
  • Experience in working with the private sector
  • Demonstrating strong theoretical and applied knowledge of MSD and/or employment.
  • Using integrated approaches and applying systems thinking.
  • Practical field experience, typically over the course of 2 years, that includes:
  • A combination of successful temporary duration field assignments (under two weeks), longer-term field assignments (two or more weeks), and/or living in a field location for an extended period to work in a country or field office.
  • A number of emergency response assignments or other crisis response work that demonstrates the ability to successfully adapt support and assistance methodologies to real-world complexities.
  • Managing and implementing successful programs in the field.
  • Delivering capacity building trainings or other processes for field teams
  • Willingness and ability to travel frequently to Mercy Corps project sites and field locations, including traveling to insecure environments, is required.
  • Familiarity with major donors such as USAID, DFID, the EC and relevant foundations and corporations.
  • Fluency in English is required; fluency in a foreign language preferred.

Success Factors

The senior advisor will demonstrate significant experience managing programs in the field, further enhancing their ability to adjust technical theories to meet real world complexities. The individual should have the proven ability to influence donors, partners, and peer organizations toward innovative programs and best practices. Through significant experience managing all aspects of large or complex proposals, the individual will be able to advise and coach other Mercy Corps staff on how to adjust their methodology. The senior advisor must take a lead role in building and maintaining external relationships as well as demonstrating the drive and initiative to contribute to internal team efforts. All TSU positions require strong interpersonal and cross-cultural communication skills, and a level of emotional intelligence proficiency that quickly builds and maintains productive relationships across teams. Being aware and sensitive to international development issues and diverse cultures is critical.


Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position has locations in Portland, OR; Washington D.C.; and London, UK. The position requires travel at least 30% time to the field where living conditions may be exceptionally rugged or be in volatile environments where security protocols will need to be followed. Team members must be ready to deploy to field environments on short notice in response to any emergency or crisis. When in the field the team member must able to work in remote settings, over weekends and/or evening as required by the schedule, and in settings with limited infrastructure, food options, and living conditions.

Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.

Mercy Corps