How can I get a job with an NGO in the UK?
Looking to break into the charity sector in the UK? Here are our top tips…
Build up your skills and experience
While you are applying for NGO jobs there is plenty of scope to keep topping up your CV to catch the eye of UK employers:
- Extend your knowledge of any computer programmes/databases that might be relevant to your sector using free online courses
- Top up your second language skills using free podcasts
- Look out for specialist one day training courses to put you ahead of the crowd. In the UK, RedR provides a range of courses suitable for anyone looking to get into the humanitarian sector and Kayaconnect is the go-to site for a variety of courses including the popular Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) where participants benefit from interacting with each other as they learn
The UK has a particularly strong culture of volunteering going back at least to the second world war, when citizens organised fundraising activities to help refugees resettle.
- Many UK NGOs see volunteering as a demonstration of commitment to their cause
- This core of faithful volunteers boosts the capacity of paid staff in areas such as administration, fundraising and campaigning, this enables them to focus more money directly on project activities
- UK NGOs have a board of trustees (usually volunteers) and this is a good way to offer your skills whilst learning about the “behind the scenes” workings of an NGO. Having trustee experience puts you in a strong position when applying for jobs that come up, including internal vacancies
- Your chances of landing a job with the NGO are increased through volunteering because it gives you a preview into the organisational culture, values and ways of working - if you do get invited for interview you can demonstrate that you are already a good fit for their team
Use online job boards
Getting familiar with the UK NGO job boards should be high on your list of priorities:
- Be prepared to upload a tailored CV (not just your latest version!) and covering letter for each job you want to apply for
- NGO jobs are in high demand so take the time to match your skills to their requirements
- Set up alerts so that you are notified as soon as new jobs go online – some recruiters interview as the applications arrive, so a quick response counts
Spread your net widely
- In the UK it is worth registering with agencies that specialise in placing candidates into NGO/charity roles. Don’t be put off by temporary/interim roles as these can often develop into further offers of work
And with many NGO events and Annual General Meetings now happening online, it is easier than ever to attend a talk or presentation to learn more about the work of an NGO, meet decision makers and land that job. Good Luck!