Tips for Starting a New Job in a Charity
So you’re starting a new job! Congratulations. Hopefully you’re looking forward to a fresh start and are raring to go. Are you also feeling a little nervous? The unknown is always scary, but the best thing to do is to prepare well for your first day.
Here are our top tips for quelling your anxieties and making the most of this great new step in your career.
Remind yourself of your job description
Take some time before your first day to read through your job description. If your new line manager hasn’t sent this through to you yet, re-familiarise yourself with the original ad. That way, you’ll be able to start with a strong sense of purpose.
You could even jot down a rough plan of what you’d like to achieve in the first few weeks. Think about what you’ve found out about the charity during your interview and research any specific projects which were mentioned. If you have time, you could note down any questions or observations about them so that you can come armed with these to your very first team meeting.
Familiarise yourself with the charity
You’ve probably done lots of research into your new employer prior to your interview. But before starting a new job in a charity, it’s worth having another thorough look at their website. If you work in web development or UX design, it will be useful to look at the navigation, donor journeys and calls to action.
If you work in marketing or fundraising, analyse any event or campaign pages. Make a note of suggested improvements and be ready to talk through these when you start. Doing your homework will impress your new line manager and show your eagerness.
If you’re new to the charity sector, make sure you have at least a basic grasp of how charities operate. Even if you’re working in a similar role as you did in another sector, your day-to-day tasks could be different. The Charity Commission has lots of information about running a charity. You could also take a look on CharityConnect, an online charity community forum, at what those in your specialism are talking about.
Keep a note of what you’d like to learn more about
It’s fantastic if you’re starting a new job prepared, but nobody expects you to know everything right away. You’ll hopefully have a thorough onboarding process which will cover everything you need to know. Your manager will talk you through your immediate priorities and introduce you to the members of your team.
But if there are areas of the charity’s work that you’d like to know more about, let your line manager know. Your first month after starting a new job is the time to ask as many questions as possible. Make sure that you keep a note of everything you’ve learnt.
Get to know your team
Even before starting a new job, you might have a good idea of some of the key members of your team, particularly if you’re in a management position. If you feel comfortable doing so, you could consider adding them on LinkedIn before you start and introducing yourself. It’s important to understand how your roles will interact.
Make sure you spend time with each direct report or team member during your first couple of weeks in the role. Ask to shadow those who will work with you most closely, to better understand their roles.
Absorb the culture
Every charity is different, and it might take you a while to figure out the culture of your new workplace. Use the first few weeks to understand how your charity interacts with donors, volunteers and the wider community. For many organisations, the culture can be traced back to its origin, so make sure that you read up about the mission statement, vision and values. Observe to see when and how new ideas should be voiced, and if you’re in doubt, speak to your line manager.
Show your dedication and be proactive
Work hard during the first few weeks after starting a new job to show yourself in the best possible light. It’s understandable that you’re still learning the ropes, but if you do have any free time during your induction use it wisely. Why not ask your teammates whether you can offer them a hand with anything they’re working on? This will also give you a valuable insight into how the team operates.
Enjoy your new job!
Starting a new job can often be daunting but if you follow our tips, you’ll be as prepared as you can be. Try to see it as an adventure to embrace. Soak up all the knowledge, get to know your team and figure out which new skills you’d like to learn next. And most of all, enjoy it!
Still looking for the perfect charity job? Take a look at who’s currently hiring on our site.
This post was originally published in 2021 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current jobseeker experience.