Working for a NGO or other organisation with an important social mission can undoubtedly be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life – after all, who doesn’t want to love what they do and do what they love? It’s probably for this reason that jobs in charitable sectors are highly sought after and so competition is high.
What’s more, by the very nature of NGOs, budgets may be tight; or at least managed as efficiently as possible in order to not unnecessarily divert funds from the end cause. This means that there simply isn’t often many roles in any charitable organisation available because the business needs to operate as smartly as possible.
With all this considered, it’s really no surprise that getting a job in the NGO sector can be considered more difficult than many other areas. But fear not, it can be done: and we’re here to tell you just how.
Apply through a specialist site or agency
Although there are a multitude of career websites and recruitment agencies in existence now, not many have strategic relationships with and proven experience in hiring for NGOs. Specialist sites and agencies, such as ngocareer.com, are your best port of call online for relevant roles – because we’re known by NGOs as a great place to find candidates and therefore have plenty of opportunities available (and we tend to know about them and list them before more mainstream sites, too!).
Build your contacts
As with many industries of limited size, getting hired in the charitable sector can often be reliant on who you know rather than just what you know. Building your professional contacts can be hugely beneficial when the time comes to apply for roles, but be sure to do so online and off – connecting with people and remaining active on professional networks such as LinkedIn will only get you so far and in-person networking industry events present more unique opportunities to meet relevant people.
Demonstrate tangible experience in the sector
Never underestimate the power of volunteering and work experience. In many cases, younger and more dynamic candidates are favoured for NGO roles because of the fresh ideas and viewpoints they can bring, but having some relevant experience will cut you above the rest when it comes to the application process. List out voluntary roles and events on your CV and ensure that you’re able to demonstrate how they are relevant to the vacancy you’re applying for. Too many applicants for jobs of all types assume that they’re unable to gain work experience until they’re out of full-time study, but this is rarely the case and plenty can be done alongside your time at university.
Stay open-minded when applying for NGO roles and keep every application unique; tailoring your cover letter and CV to the role you’re applying for rather than sending out generic copies for all and hoping one lands. The possibilities in the sector may be limited in number but not so in inspiration – it’s time to take the leap!