Life Experience Counts in the Non-Profit World

3 minute read

Whether you aced your university studies or not, finding your first job can be tough. Companies insist that entry-level jobs require experience.

According to ResumeGo, recruiters are 1.4 times more likely to hire an entry-level applicant who has a two-page CV than someone who has less. So not only do you need experience as a first-time applicant, but you also need to fill two pages to stand out.

Don’t worry! Because life experience counts. If you chose to study at university, volunteer abroad or travel the world, then you definitely have enough experience to fill up your CV. Here’s how to position life experience on your CV.

Life Experience Counts in the Non-Profit World

1. Out-of-work achievements can relate to the job

Employers are no longer looking for just a list of job skills; they require much more from candidates today. Qualifications and work experience show no indication of what type of person you are, or if you’ll fit into their work culture.

In the charity sector, having emotional maturity and tolerance is very important. So, in your CV it’s imperative to show that you might have gained these things by volunteering abroad or leaving home to travel the world for months on end. Did you work part-time while studying at university? This requires a certain level of maturity, so mention it.

If you’re applying for an event planning role within a charity, then think about any out-of-work experience that could relate to the role. Perhaps you’ve organised your best friend’s wedding or a parent’s 50th birthday? Share this experience as you would have had to plan everything and ensure things ran on time. This is a great way to demonstrate your organisational skills and show that you learned to coordinate people and project manage.


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2. Volunteering is rich in experience 

When you’re passionate about something that you spend your own free time doing, it means you are more likely to excel at it. Volunteer for a cause close to your heart and use your capabilities to their full potential. Not only will hiring managers see value in your volunteering experience, but it will show that you’re proactive about working in the non-profit sector.

When volunteering, there are many things you would have seen, done, experienced, organised and dealt with. So, tap into that and think about some of the experiences you may have had and what was required of you. You’ll quickly realise that you have a wealth of experience to talk about on your CV.

Life Experience Counts in the Non-Profit World

3. Gain transferrable skills through university studies

Don’t forget that studying at university will have given you a range of transferrable skills. A lot more than you might immediately think. Have you had to organise your time to work on multiple projects, close to exam time and all with a similar deadline? This will have taught you to manage your time, to prioritise projects that take longer to complete and work on multiple things at the same time, all while meeting deadlines.

During your studies, can you pinpoint moments when you had to work under pressure, work in a team and present to your lecturer or class? This all counts towards gaining that work experience you need.

But don’t just mention the skill, be sure to flesh it out with examples.


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4. Travel abroad or learn a new language

If you took a gap year or decided in between jobs to take a career break, then show it off. This is a great opportunity to stand out over other candidates.

Whether you decided to travel and see the world or settle in one place and learn a language abroad, both are incredibly difficult to do. Being on the move and having to organise your travel route, accommodation and activities in each location shows you’re strong at organisation and have a real passion and motivation to learn about different cultures. If you’ve chosen to learn a language, then mention your commitment to gaining a new skill, wanting to communicate with different people from around the world and make international friends.

Either way, it says a lot more about you as a person than you might think.

Life Experience Counts in the Non-Profit World

5. Draw a clear parallel

Now that we’ve shown you how to tap into your personal life to fill your CV, it’s essential you put this together in a way that makes sense. Don’t just list off every bit of life-experience you have. Rather, draw parallels between what the role requires and the experience that fits that. It doesn’t matter if the experience you’ve mentioned is not in chronological order.

Remember there are lots of ways to show recruiters and hiring managers that you are capable for the job, what kind of work ethic you have and a taste of your personality, all through the life experiences you’ve had so far.


This post was brought to you by Kaplan International English, offering English languages courses in 38 destinations around the world.

Sarah Gluckman

Sarah Gluckman is the Content Producer at Kaplan International English. Kaplan offers students the opportunity to live and learn English in 38 cities around the world.

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