Rethink your career: Move Into The Charity Sector

9 minute read


Every now and then we might feel as if our career isn’t going anywhere. Maybe our job is pretty good, but we feel something is wrong, as if we aren’t making a difference at work. Perhaps its time for a change? The charity sector can be an amazing and rewarding experience, but does not always have the most straightforward of career paths.

To get your foot in the door, we’ve created a list of steps to help you along the way.:

Step 1: Review Your Current Work Experience

Your experience is your way to get a foot in the door. Fortunately, the experience does not necessarily have to be paid. The charity sector often praises voluntary experience, and considers it equally relevant on your CV. Internships, graduate schemes and placements are relatively rare in the charity sector. But don’t let this deter you, volunteering can be an excellent and very rewarding way into a charity sector career. By volunteering you can build rewarding experience, which can really make your CV stand out. Take a look at the following articles to learn more:

If your experience is relevant to the career you want, use it in the application. Any relevant experience demonstrates commitment and responsibility, and it doesn’t even have to be in the charity sector. You can use anything that demonstrates your ability to work well, or shows you have an insight into how a charity operates. In fact, one route to landing a charity job is to shift into the sector using your existing career.

That’s right! It may not be the advice you expected, but it is perhaps the most reliable way to get your foot in the door. Take a look at the job search, you’ll notice that there are a lot of jobs which are established career paths that happen to be in the charity sector. Accountant? The sector needs you, developer? Yep, social worker? You bet.

Transferable careers in the charity sector:

In order to narrow it down , you may want to research some potential charities, and get a clear idea as to which charity route you want to take. Charities care about your passion for their cause, in some circumstances this can trump experience, so always make sure you’re well researched. There’s more to read if you fancy swatting up a little more:

Step 2: Choose Your Charity Route

Do you have an idea of the particular area you want to work in? Is it something like international development, or animals, maybe mental health. Well, what about the type of job? Fundraising, marketing, advocacy maybe campaigning? It is a good idea to think about the type of charity career you want to pursue, considering where you can develop the required skills and experience.

Are you looking to get a specific paid position at a charity organisation? Or do want to get some volunteering experience overseas first? Perhaps your best route is to develop the requested skills elsewhere, then move onto applying for the job you want to get? There are many ways to approach this route, research first, see what the requirements of your career path are, consider volunteer roles or courses where you can develop relevant experience. Consider how you could transfer your existing skills from the corporate world, or from your education. Different transferable skills receive varying levels of demand when it comes to charity jobs. Fundraising is often the most accessible career path, but is by no means your only option.

Choose the route that right for you

Get your ideas organised before you start pursuing a third sector career. The charity sector offers a myriad of choices, and detecting the one that is best for you is key to your success. Otherwise, you may spend valuable time trying to get a job you don’t really want to have. In other words: choose a career path that is right for you, there is significant variety within the third sector, it’s hardly just charity shops, fundraising and aid work. Have a good look at the kind of careers open to you and think where you would fit best. Many people in the charity sector have worked their way up from more junior roles, looking at entry level roles can be a good route.

Rethink your career: Move Into The Charity Sector

Step 3: Build on Your Current Experience

You may not be able to find a charity position you want at the moment, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot offer your expertise and services on a voluntary basis. There are volunteer roles available throughout the charity sector, in fact paid jobs are often not where the boots on the ground work is done; most charities are volunteer led. You can gain great volunteering experience through the charity sector and the demand for this rarely drops, volunteering really is your best chance to get charity sector experience. At the time of writing the most in-demand volunteering areas are:

This will help you improve your CV and learn more about the charity sector, which in turn will give you a bigger chance of being chosen for a great job once the time comes.

Don’t forget – volunteering is good for every job, but it is especially important when it comes to the third sector.  Where you might have done an internship in the for-profit world, you may seek to gain the same experience by volunteering in the charity sector.

Step 4: Do Some Networking

Keep note of every person you meet along the way, and try to build new relationships with people in the sector. Nowadays it is easier than ever to meet people who share the same interests as you, and such people can open your path towards many interesting opportunities. You can connect with other people in the charity sector with CharityConnect: the professional network for the charity sector.

Work on your networking skills and try to find influential people that can recommend you. Don’t forget about your current acquaintances, you never know where a new opportunity can come from. Building a strong network of contacts is important in many career paths, the charity sector is no different. Make sure you don’t loose contact with those you met while volunteering and always be on the lookout to make quality contacts online. Networking can be done at events, on professional networks or even blogs. If you’d like to know more:

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Step 5: Learn to Be Adaptable and Flexible

When looking for a job in the charity sector, you should be as adaptable as possible. Try to be open to other opportunities that will eventually get you to your desired career. This should help you present yourself as a valuable asset to different departments.

Be open to new ideas, and careers you may not have initially considered, skills from other sectors really are transferable. Think about the kind of experience and skills you have, how could they be turned to a career in the charity sector? Sales can be a good background for fundraising, marketing may lend itself to advocacy. Senior management is increasingly acceptable as a route into the charity sector, as demonstrated by the appointment of Simon Lande, a tech entrepreneur to the position of Fundraising Director for NSPCC.

Rethink your career: Move Into The Charity Sector

Step 6: Show You Are Passionate

In addition to your work experience, you need to demonstrate passion and desire. In such a fulfilling and competitive sector, showing your passion is key to breaking into an organisation.

This is something you can do during an interview, or even in your cover letter. Your application can contain various hints of how passionate you are about the job, and the sole fact that you invested a lot of time and effort into creating a great cover letter can help you stand out. It is essential to show that you care for a charity’s cause. You may even be expected to show some kind of commitment to the cause in question, generally this is demonstrated through volunteering. For example is you want a career in fundraising, there are always great volunteer positions available. If you are interested in marketing, volunteer roles are easy to come by.

Volunteer roles in the charity sector with high availability include:

Step 7: Create the Perfect Job Application

How you write the cover letter and organise your CV can make all the difference. First impressions are built long before you’re called for an interview, and let’s face it – the organisation won’t be able to detect how great you are based on your body language and communication skills up until the interview actually happens.

If you do want it to happen, you must create the perfect job application. When you apply to a job in the third sector, first consider the skills and requirements mentioned in the job description. Then, make sure to demonstrate your passion for the job in question, as well as use concise and clear language that won’t confuse the reader.

Moreover, it is highly important to create a CV that demonstrates skills relevant to the job. Listing all the jobs you’ve worked and every experience you’ve had in your life can be detrimental to your chances of being hired, since no employee wants to read pages and pages of irrelevant content. Be concise and be relevant. Remember that a good cover letter usually address all the important points in the job description.

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Step 8: Prepare for the Interview

Finally, you got to the part where people want to meet with you to discuss the job. Once you’ve sent a well-crafted CV and cover letter for the position you want and deserve, the final step towards actually getting into the charity sector is the interview.

At an interview, you want to look and act like a professional, which means that you should pay attention to several things. First of all, dress professionally and learn what body language to use and what to avoid. Secondly, you will want to come across as interested and passionate, yet focused on the job being offered to you. Make sure you ask questions to the employer as well, they aren’t looking for someone completely passive. Be sure to demonstrate genuine interest with, and if necessary, commitment to, the charity’s cause.

The charity sector is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding sectors you can find on the job market. Whether you decide to volunteer or opt for paid work, there are many opportunities and various positions you can choose. If you need to update your CV, a writing service could be what you need. Why not take a look at what charity sector jobs are live right now?

Julie Peterson

Julie Petersen is a writer and an editor. She works for the best resume writing services where she reviews different services and tries to find the best one.

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