How to Adapt Your CV for the Non-Profit Sector

More people than ever want to have a career that makes a difference in the world. According to the NCVO and The Bureau of Labor Statistics, voluntary and non-profit organizations employ over 800,000 people in the UK and account for more than ten percent of all employment in the US. So, what does this mean for international jobseekers looking to work for a charitable organization in an English-speaking country?


The non-profit sector has a great deal of competition, which is why it’s important to have a CV that highlights not only your skills but also your passion for a meaningful cause. Here are a few ways to tailor your CV for a role in non-profit.


1. Research each charity and adapt your CV accordingly


As with any job, it’s important to take the time to examine the organization you’re interested in working for. But when you’re applying to work for a charity, this is even more important because you want to emphasize your personal connection with the cause. If you don’t really know what the charity does, then they probably won’t spend too long looking at your CV.


Every charity is different, so certain skills will be more valuable in one role than in another. Explore each organization’s core values and figure out how you can present your skills and accomplishments in a way that complements their culture.


Transfer skills to show you'll be successful in the non-profit sector
Adapt your CV to reflect the skills of the job you're applying for 


2. Highlight transferrable skills


Non-profit organizations cover a range of different sectors, including healthcare, education, the arts, social services and more. If you’re switching from the corporate to the charity sector, chances are your past positions won’t line up perfectly with the roles that are available. That doesn’t mean you aren’t right for the role – you just have to do a bit of work to show that your skills are transferrable.


Highlight soft skills like communication, your ability to work under pressure and time management. Then review the job spec and pick out skills that line up with both your old job and the new one and make sure to include those. Don’t leave the hiring managers guessing why your last role was relevant to the job you’re applying for.




3. Emphasize your passion for the cause


A little passion can go a long way, and the people who work in the charity sector do so because the genuinely care about the cause. Recruiters aren’t only looking for the skills you’ve mastered – they want to know that you’re looking for a challenge and are inspired and motivated by their cause. New skills can always be learned, but the passion for the role needs to be established early on so they don’t think you’ll be a potential flight risk.


Show you have a passion for non-profit work
Show your passion for the work the charity does 


4. Have you volunteered for a non-profit before? Let them know!


Maybe you spent some time volunteering with a charity in your community or abroad. Volunteer work shows the organization that you’ve already invested your time in a cause you’re passionate about. This also means you’re likely to know a bit about the non-profit sector and have realistic expectations of what working for a charity is like.


If you’ve volunteered abroad or spent time learning a language in another country, don’t forget to include that in your CV. It illustrates that you’re open to other cultures and ways of life. Seeing how other communities live and learning about struggles outside your own country broadens your perspective, and charities like that.


Have you traveled or volunteered abroad - this is useful for a non-profit organisation
Have you traveled or volunteered abroad? 


5. Show off your multilingual skills


Some charities have international postings that require multilingual speakers, which puts you at an advantage in the hiring process if you’re fluent in more than one language. Being able to speak a second (or third) language and travel between an English-speaking country and an office abroad can be the thing that gets your CV through the short list and into the interview stage.


Just remember to proofread any CV written in your second language. Nearly 60% percent of recruiters reject a candidate because of bad grammar or spelling errors, and you don’t want that to be the reason why you didn’t get the job.


6. Cut out the corporate jargon


Unless you’re applying to a large organization, there’s no need for overly-formal corporate language in your CV. Hiring managers want to be able to quickly understand what your skills and experience are without having to wade through a swamp of overly-complicated words and unnecessary adverbs.


In charitable work, you’re likely to deal with people from varying levels of socioeconomic backgrounds, which is why you want the language in your CV to reflect that you’re down-to-earth and approachable.


Ultimately, the thing to remember when adapting your CV is to showcase your passion and your personality. Of course, skills and previous experience are important, but if you’re making the shift into a new sector there’s always room to grow and develop (and hiring managers know that).


Still need a bit of inspiration? Download CharityJob’s free CV template for the non-profit sector. Good luck and happy hunting!

This content was provided by CharityJob, the largest and most specialized job board for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK.


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