4 Skills to Highlight When Applying for a Charity Management Position
Working in the charity sector is a great opportunity to use your skills to do significant good in the world. Once you’ve gained some experience in the field, it’s not unusual to feel you’re ready for a management position. The sector can certainly benefit from your talents, and with it currently being a candidates’ market, this could be a great time to step up and find a management role.
So how should you go about applying? Your application and CV need to promote elements that spark your potential employer’s interest in you, so you’ll need to identify the skills and attributes that tend to be most in demand in the sector.
We’re going to explore four skills to highlight when applying for a charity management position.
1. Show your willingness to learn
A sign of a good leader in any organisation is knowing their development isn’t complete. To stand out in your application, you need to show how you keep your current skills sharp. Importantly, you must also communicate your willingness to engage with new learning opportunities.
Why is this so important in a charity sector role? Well, firstly, the organisation wants a solid investment. Charities have limited budgets, so they want to make sure you’re a candidate who will continue to hone their skills.
But it’s also about relevance. The industry is constantly changing. One study found that even during the pandemic, 81% of charities changed how they use digital tools. You need to show you can adapt to the changes and even become an innovator in the field.
Take courses directly related to maintaining and expanding your management abilities—but go beyond this. Do some training in more varied yet useful fields. Web design and cybersecurity are particularly valuable at the moment. Highlighting these activities on your application will show you’re committed to your growth.
2. Demonstrate your relevant experience
Jumping straight into a management role without experience isn’t good for you or the charity. So finding opportunities to engage with managerial situations before you actually become a manager is essential preparation. It also communicates to potential charity sector employers that you’ve been tested in the field.
You can get experience here no matter what role or industry you’re currently working in. Speak to your line manager about opportunities for team leadership or managing small projects. Look for activities to not just introduce you to the day-to-day, but also the nuanced challenges of leadership.
Project management can be a particularly useful experience in managing conflict. Projects rarely go completely smoothly from start to finish, so there’s bound to be some friction between people or processes at some point. Taking time to understand these pain points, and learning methods to address them is vital for any manager. It also shows your management mindset is relevant to the current workplace.
In addition, you can gain important management experience outside of work. Volunteer for roles on committees or projects for local charities. This helps you to understand some of the specific leadership challenges in the sector. It can also help you build connections who can vouch for your growing management skills on your application.
3. Highlight your humanity
Charities are all about improving aspects of the world. They recognise our world is a fallible and vulnerable place. Similarly, managers in the sector can thrive by functioning as humans rather than management machines. Employees, in particular, tend to be more responsive to meaningful relationships with authentic managers they can trust.
This means developing your sense of empathy in your professional and personal life. People around you will make mistakes. But take the time to understand the challenges they may be facing that contributed to these. Share something of yourself with your colleagues. This will help you build a reputation for being a genuine and sensitive leader.
Usually, the best approach to this is to put examples of this behaviour on your CV in the experiences or personal attributes section. Provide instances of when you leaned on your humanity to address challenges and how your actions directly affected the results.
4. Display your resilience and agility
If you’re a manager, you’ll be confronted with significant challenges every day. The charity sector is no different. There is pressure to perform while juggling the various responsibilities of your team and those your charity supports. Succeeding in this type of environment needs managers to be resilient.
So you keep your head down and shut out the world? No. Resilience is about establishing coping strategies to help you achieve some calm under pressure. Remember, not all methods of coping are right for everyone. Commitment and practice will help you understand what works for you. Importantly, it can help you maintain your wellbeing while being an effective manager.
Alongside resilience, you also need to show agility in your managerial approach. Charities, like all businesses, benefit from growth. This requires you to think outside the box and avoid being static. Practice creative thinking exercises that help your cognitive, organisational and managerial flexibility.
You’ll generally find your cover letter is the best place to include these in your application. Describe your resilience and the work you’ve put into developing it. Write about how you’ve used your agility to innovate or address challenges.
A managerial role in the charity sector can be a rewarding opportunity, so it’s important to make sure your application stands out. Demonstrate your commitment to growth, your relevant experience and your authenticity and you’re ready to continue your charity career journey. Ready to start? Discover a management position you can thrive in.
Don't miss another post, sign up to our weekly newsletter
Amanda Winstead is a writer with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys travelling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.