How to Match Your Qualifications to a Non-Profit Position
Should you embellish the facts on your CV? There is no harm in making yourself appear a little better than you actually are. That’s the whole point of a CV – making sure your skills and experience stand out from everybody else’s. After all, a man may attend an interview in a suit, but he doesn’t wear the suit all day long at home. In many cases, what some people think is a lie, is actually the truth dressed up.
The fact is, most people undersell themselves on their CV. They think that just because they turned up late three times last year that they can’t describe themselves as ‘punctual’, as if they forgot they turned up the other 237 days on time.
But what if you’re applying for a job at a charity? You may think that it’s a bit unscrupulous to jazz up your CV, seeing as it’s such a moral-based industry. But the truth is that the third sector is just as competitive (if not more) than any other industry, so it’s important to know how to sell yourself properly and make sure your qualifications really pop.
Give your employer the chance to bend a little
Let’s assume that your qualifications don’t match up exactly with the job you want. Maybe you have some of the qualifications, but not all of them, or maybe they are looking for a level 3 worker and you are a level 2 worker. There are two things you can do:
1. Use the word ‘experience’ tactically
Let’s say you want a job where you work with animals. You may have a certificate for health and safety, food hygiene, fire safety, first aid and sanitation. However, you don’t have any qualifications that are directly linked to pet welfare. In such a case, you can use the word ‘experience’ tactically. You can describe your fire safety qualifications and mention your experience in clearing animals from a location quickly, and you may describe your food hygiene qualifications and mention that you have experience dealing with food safety and pets (even if that experience is with your own pets at home).
2. Cross promote your experience with your qualifications
Maybe you want to work with disadvantaged children, and they are looking for level 3 NVQ in early years learning, but you only have NVQ level 2. In such a case, you should highlight the fact that you have ten years of professional childcare experience. Detail the last ten years you spent working in a private nursery. Such genuine experience may allow the employer to bend a little and maybe accept a level 2 employee (law permitting).
Match your qualifications and experience to the job
Non-profit organisations are similar to other businesses in that they don’t like to hire people who are overqualified for jobs. If you want to work in a charity shop and you have a PHD, they’re not going to hire you unless it is a very large shop and you’re the manager. If you feel you need to explain why you are applying for the job, then put it in the cover letter rather than the CV.
If you are looking for a writing job, and you have qualifications but no experience, then highlight those qualifications and play down your experience a little, especially if the experience has nothing to do with writing or the job you are applying for.
According to the resume writing services Resumeble, you restructure your CV so that your most relevant qualifications appear first. For example, most people list their qualifications in date order, which means their comprehensive school qualifications appear first, but if you have just finished a course that is relevant to your job application, then why not list your qualifications in reverse date order so that your most relevant qualification appears first on your CV.
Appeal to the charity’s common sense
Let’s say you are going for an accountancy job in a non-profit. They may ask why you are dedicating your years of studying and qualifications to a job where you may be paid a fraction of the amount you would be paid in the private sector.
In your CV, you can make it clear that you care about the cause and that you would like the experience that comes with the job. There are two factors to this method:
- The cause – It is a good reason for your application.
- The experience – Voluntary and non-profit positions are good ways to build experience. And building a long career in the non-profit sector is the best experience you can get.
Maybe the issue is less about your qualifications and more about your credibility. Charities may hire people who are overqualified, but they need to feel confident of your motives before they do.
Don’t forget to echo the language in the job spec
Regular CV advice works for non-profits in the same way it works for businesses in the private sector. A classic tip is that you should use the same words in your CV that appear in the job advert. If they’re looking for a diligent, hardworking and flexible employee, then you mention how you are hardworking, diligent, and so flexible that you can start tomorrow. You can tailor your CV to a job without telling big lies or being intentionally misleading.
Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind is that non-profit recruiters care about your passion and dedication to the role. So as long as your skills are right, your experience is close enough and you’re eager to get your hands dirty, you shouldn’t have a problem securing an interview. Still not sure where to start with your CV? Download our non-profit CV template to help get you started.