6 Ways to Transfer Your Skills to The Charity Sector

3 minute read

There are over 160,000 charities in the UK, employing over 750,000 people — and the sector is growing.

Charities need great candidates. Many of those working in the public or private sector are interested in working for a not for profit, primarily because they sympathise with the aims and ethos of the charity sector. Feeling valued and enjoying work are two of the many reasons to consider working in the charity sector.

But are your current skills transferable?

Almost certainly. Like any organisation, charities need income streams, management and they need to communicate with various stakeholders. Although they have a different purpose from a typical commercial organisation, they undertake a lot of similar work.

How can you transfer your skills?

Recognise Your Universal Skills

Before searching for opportunities in the charity sector, take some time to create a personal skills inventory. This will help you to identify what you’ve got to offer any organisation. It also gives you a framework to start collecting information that will help you describe and demonstrate your skills on paper and during an interview.

Once you start looking at jobs, you can compare your current skills to the requirements of the role. You won’t necessarily have ticked every box, but you should have enough skills to show the charity recruiter that you could do the job.

Apply for a Similar or Comparable Role

Marketing, Project Management, and Administration are just a few departments which are required in any charitable organisation. Experience in these positions within the public or private sector can be transferred to a new charity-based role. Area’s such as fundraising offers a great opportunity for new comers to break into the sector. 

Of course, you’ll have to be sensitive to the different priorities and terminology of not for profit organisations. Their language reflects this.  

Once you start looking through job ads you’ll see a lot of references to relationships, influence, strategy and partnerships. They are also likely to talk about compliance, quality, achieving outcomes and engaging stakeholders. Make sure you know what this means to them and that you can translate your current experience into these terms.

Which Charity Size is Best for You?

The size of the charity can make a big difference to the work that you do. National or global charities often have a lot of very specific roles. Smaller or local charities tend to have a few positions covering a multitude of roles. There are benefits to working for both large and small charities, so where would your skills be best placed?

In a smaller organisation, your individual efforts will make more of an impact and that might be very rewarding.  However, large charities have a lot to offer in terms of career development.

Show Off Your Experience in an Interview

If you’ve been successful in getting an interview, you’ll want to make sure you use the time to convince the interviewer that your skills and experience are going to transition smoothly into their ways of working. You might know that you have all the skills, despite not working in the charity sector, but you must convey this to an interviewer.

Understanding software, running a social media campaign, working with external suppliers — all of these abilities can be relevant to a role. Use previous examples and explain how they can be used in the new role.

As well as demonstrating your skills, don’t forget to show your passion. This is a key element to bring to an interview. It’s likely that you’ve applied for the job because you are passionate about the organisation or cause, so make sure this shines through.

Always Discuss Voluntary Roles

Any experience you’ve had volunteering deserves a place on your CV.  Even if your volunteer role wasn’t a particularly close match for the job you’re applying for, it still shows that you are committed to working for the things you value. Whether you organised a fun run with your work colleagues or helped out at your university during Freshers’ Week, mention these things.

Volunteering is often a great way to step onto the ladder of the Charity sector. You’ll meet people, gain valuable experience, and get a chance to see if the culture and demands of working in a charity are right for you.

Increase Your Knowledge and Awareness

As you would for any potential employer, you need to do your homework.  Being aware of the challenges currently faced by the sector or the particular charity you are moving to is important. Read widely about the sector in general, and specifically about the history and development of the organisation you are applying to. If you’re able to discuss their recent campaigns and achievements with them, it will be easier for them to see how you could fit in and contribute.

Christine Macdonald

Christine Macdonald from The Hub Events offers her insights on how you can transfer your skills when applying for a job in the charity sector.

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