Embarking on your first career path, or realising you want to change your current one, can be a huge and difficult decision. So if you’ve already decided you want to work in the charity sector, and better still found the charity you want to work for, then nice going. But, sadly the hard work doesn’t stop there.
One of the biggest obstacles between us and our dream job can so often be a poorly written cover letter or worse, a non-tailored CV. And even more so in the charity sector where job applications require a unique approach. However, it really doesn’t have to be that way. Applications don’t have to be something that fill us with dread, you just need to know how to handle them. Better still, you need to know how to handle them for charities specifically.
Not sure where to start? Let us show you how!
For many people, the cover letter is often an after-thought. What should be included in it? Should you just emphasise what’s in your CV? Or is it really worth even bothering to send one at all?
Well, the answer is definitely yes, it’s totally worth it. If you don’t send a cover letter you’re only lessening your own chances of getting the job.
But what happens when we do send one and hear nothing back? We see enough cover letters to know where you’ve probably gone wrong so we may just have the answer for you.
One thing charities want to hear all about is what makes you, you. It’s something that might have less relevance when applying to a corporate role, but charities are all about changing the world and want to know that you are too. It might sound a little cliché, but charities need to know that you are as passionate about their cause as they are, so don’t be afraid to talk about how you relate to it.
The best way to get your message across in your cover letter is to discover your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Your UVP is a combination of your passions, values and talents coming together to make you who you are. Discover your UVP, and you’ve found the best way encapsulate why a charity should hire you in one simple sentence.
Want to learn more about your UVP and how to discover it? Check out the full video:
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: make sure your CV is tailored to the job you are applying for. A one-size-fits-all CV is a waste of your time and the recruiter’s. A hiring manager will be able to see the candidate who really wants the job as they’ve taken the time to personalise their CV to the charity.
The first thing you need to get absolutely right is the section that often appears at the top – your personal summary. Whilst the name suggests it’s a summary about you, the hidden message here is that it should actually be about the organisation and what you can offer them. Check out the video below to see how to transform yours.
Next, a winning work experience section is needed. It’s important to remember here that they aren’t simply looking for the tasks you undertook as part of your role. If you’re a Marketing Manager, recruiters will be pretty certain already that you ran marketing campaigns. Instead of wasting precious space, show the impact you’ve made, provide evidence for it and include stats to back it up where possible. For each point you make, remember to include the context, the action you took and the result.
Last but by no means least, it’s important to write a strong volunteering and hobbies section. If you’re used to working in the corporate sector then this one might seem a little unnatural for you, but in the charity world it really does matter. Volunteering is a huge part of the charity sector, so give it the focus it deserves; recruiters will be looking for it.
For more information and examples of how to tailor your CV to a charity, take a look at this episode of 9 to Alive: