How can I make a career in an NGO sector


When you leave university, getting a job is often the first focus you have in order to continue living away from home without straining your finances too far. A job is one thing but it’s often simply  means to an end: whereas a career can last a lifetime and really allow you to indulge your passions and live your dreams, professionally.

NGOs don’t tend to hire lots of people and so few people manage to successfully combine charity and company into a career. However, with a little determination and professional smarts, it can be done – and these top tips will help you stay in the sector you love for as long as possible.

Stay mindful of the skills gained in your current role

In whatever capacity you’re currently working with or for a charitable or socially-driven organisation (be that voluntary, part-time or full-time), take time away from your role periodically to consider all of the things you’ve done and skills you’ve gained as you do it. Listing out responsibilities on a CV is fairly standard but having an understanding of what you’re achieving and how you’re developing professionally can be extraordinary. Seek out opportunities for work to fulfil any gaps you’d like to address and keep a log (on your resume!) of the growth you’ve had within the organisation.

Don’t be afraid to side-step

Many people only apply for new jobs or promotions if they’re a clear-cut step upwards in terms of responsibility and salary. However, side-stepping should not be discounted and can still form a successful career move. Moving to a similar role for the same wage or to a new company for a slightly lesser one may not seem as though it’s a natural progression but can actually result in new opportunities arising.

Keep volunteering and going the extra mile

Even if you’re already in paid NGO employment, there’s always more to be done. Alongside your role, if you’re able to, consider continuing to take on voluntary opportunities and to go the extra mile outside of your stipulated job specification. You’ll add value to the relevant organisation by doing so but will also be able to demonstrate to future employers the value of you as an employee/volunteer/interested party, too.

Keep abreast of opportunities everywhere

If you’re in a position to pack up and work abroad, why not do it? Many UK-based NGOs are working toward a cause elsewhere in the world or have offices globally, so there may be no need to limit your job search to the area you already live in. Relocating can open plenty of new opportunities for skill-building, networking and different experiences but also will show potential employers that you’re willing to be flexible and to try out new things in order to help the all-important social mission of the company.

Turning the job you love into a career can bring a lifetime of content – and that’s surely the dream. Think of all you can achieve both professionally and personally along the way… and get down to work!


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