5 Skills You Need to Land a Remote Charity Job
Many organisations are transitioning from the office to work-from-home environments, and the charity sector is no exception. But as jobs move from a public place to your home office, the skills needed to do the job will require some adjustment.
According to the OECD, the UK has a self-reported skill mismatch rate of around 50%. This means nearly half of the workforce considers their qualifications to be misaligned with their job’s requirements (by either being under-qualified or overqualified).
And while the third sector does prize certain skills above others, the landscape has changed with the advent of remote charity work initiated by the pandemic.
Considering these two factors, it’s clear that you’ll need to reevaluate the skills required when looking for remote charity opportunities, both with what you list on your CV as well as the abilities needed to succeed in the job from 2020 onward.
Here are 5 crucial skills needed to land remote work in a charity or not-for-profit.
Good communication has always been key to a successful charity career. But remote work may mean modifying the type of communication you are used to. Body language, for example, is less of an issue in a virtual setting and verbal communication has a reduced role. However, written communication will be leaned on heavily, and you’ll need to quickly adapt to the nuances (and frustrations) of video meetings.
To be a good remote communicator, master the technology that allows for it. When speaking over video chat, remember to keep your message clear, enunciate and talk at a decent volume directly into the microphone. And always communicate with empathy—you don’t know what sort of external factors are affecting your colleagues, volunteers or beneficiaries at any particular time.
Remember, great communication in a remote environment isn’t just about speaking—it’s about being a good listener. When others are talking, allow them to finish. Then ask questions that will both help your comprehension and serve as evidence that you’re paying attention. Practise active listening and pay attention to the speaker’s tone of voice and facial expressions (on video).
If you’re trying to exhibit your communication skills in a charity interview, project confidence by speaking clearly and looking directly at the interviewer (or at the camera during a video interview). Show your understanding by using active listening. And, when the moment arrives, share stories that highlight your communication skills, perhaps a time you negotiated successfully with a partner or admirably accepted critical feedback.
2. Time management and organisation
You might consider time management and organisational skills as two separate proficiencies, but they go hand-in-hand in remote work environments. Unlike an in-person role, the work-from-home position at a charity will grant you much greater autonomy, meaning you’ll have to learn to manage both your time and organisation yourself—and do it well.
Time management takes on a new meaning in a virtual working environment. On the one hand, you may feel you have more time to get things done due to less meetings and banter with your colleagues. However, you’ll find other tasks more difficult, particularly those involving coworkers; what could have been settled by a simple tap on the shoulder may now require persistent hounding on Slack to achieve the same outcome.
Organisational skills in a remote charity role will require you being efficient, effective and productive. Planning is crucial, whether in your own day-to-day activities or for massive fundraising campaigns. Knowing how to set goals and delegate tasks when necessary shows that you’re forward-thinking and know what to prioritise and when. Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of a good work-life balance—showing you can maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting out of the office on time demonstrates your ability to get tasks completed to schedule.
At a charity job interview, be prepared to explain to the employer how you stay organised. Offer examples that give insight into your routine and mention the tools you use to manage your tasks (e.g., Asana, Trello, Evernote, Google Drive).
3. Teamwork and collaboration
Collaboration and teamwork in remote not-for-profit environments are often more tedious than in an office setting. While you’ll still be responsible for working well with a diverse group of colleagues, partners and the public, the virtual setting compounds many challenges (which is why communication skills are so important).
To impress hiring managers with your ability to work well on a team, emphasise group projects and assignments you were part of, whether from a past job or back in your days at university. Find examples of times when you were not the star but rather a supporting member of the cast; this will portray your team spirit by highlighting that you don’t need to hog the spotlight.
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As a remote worker myself, this is the one area I struggled with the most, especially for the first few months of becoming a fully virtual employee. Unlike the office environment where you have your colleagues working nearby and the general hustle and bustle of activity to keep energy levels up, you’ll have to motivate yourself in a remote work situation.
Since self-motivation is a critical part of online work, show that you have a solid system in place and stick to it.
If you want to highlight self-motivation at your next interview, detail your daily schedule and how well you follow it. This sense of routine helps differentiate your work time from your personal time. If you go to the gym or have a rewards system for completing tasks, these could be great at showing you’re disciplined when it comes to motivation. Finally, if seeking a remote leadership role in the not-for-profit sector, give examples of how you also help positively motivate and encourage your employees.
5. Adaptability and flexibility
Learning to be flexible and able to adapt efficiently to changes is crucial for the months and years ahead, particularly for remote workers in the charity sector. While companies who were already remote prior to Covid-19 likely were such to keep costs down, those doing so now are probably in a fight for survival or trying to adapt to the shifting landscape of the labour market. Meaning, you’ll have to adapt, as well.
As the dynamics of remote workplaces constantly change, demonstrate to the hiring manager you’ll be able to take it in stride. If you have a fondness for trying new things, don’t hesitate to express that. Highlight your ability to remain calm under pressure, as well as your knack for handling problems at a moment’s notice. For example, give an instance where you adapted to a client’s last-minute adjustments or how you were able to reconfigure your schedule when an urgent situation needed to be addressed.
Ready to get started?
Working in the charity sector is one of the most rewarding career paths you could choose. Just remember, hiring virtual employees is a new concept for many charities, and they’re going to need convincing that you’re the right candidate. If you can work on the skills listed above and show off your proficiency in each at your next interview, you’ll have a positive reply in no time.
When you’re ready, start searching for remote charity jobs and apply today.
Christian Eilers is a career and education writer with a focus on the topics of professional development, college entry, university life, and entrepreneurship. As the Content Lead for the Goodwall Blog, he covers subjects including self-improvement, social impact, college preparation, career advancement, fighting climate change, and more. Christian is originally from New York City and now resides in Warsaw, Poland.