Finding work in the nonprofit sector starts with first understanding the motivations and purpose of nonprofit employers and what they look for in the staff they hire.
Following are wonderful tips and specific strategy that can help you find work for mission-driven organizations. The following information can dramatically help you land an interview and provide insight on how best to compete for a dream job in the not-for-profit sector!
This nonprofit blog covers the following:
- Section 1. Seven Important Nonprofit Job Seeking Tips: steps to consider before seeking work at a nonprofit organization, foundation, association or educational institution. How to prepare.
- Section 2. Ten Proven Nonprofit Job Interviewing Tips: how to land a nonprofit job once you have the interview!
Seven Important Interview Tips:
- Understand the sector. Before you can get a job in it, do your homework and understand the nomenclature and culture of the sector! A nonprofit is not a company, it is an organization. It does not do business, it runs programs.
- Get the experience required and or showcase your skills in a way that clearly demonstrates you can do the job. It is important to find ways to show you have the background to do the work, consider volunteering in the area you wish to work, and or joining a Board as a volunteer. Most all organizations that exist use volunteers in some capacity! Get active and start building your nonprofit experience! It will and can lead you to your dream job!
- Volunteer or find ways to get experience. Nonprofit hiring managers look for staff that give their time and care about mission-driven work so much that they give their time to support a cause. This shows you are motivated, dependable and care enough to take time to give back. If you do not have enough volunteer experience to have it section on your resume, start volunteering and ramp this up!
- Learn who the hiring managers are at your target organizations or choice and professionally find a way to get in front of them. Informational meetings and coffee meetings go a long way to find work in the nonprofit sector.
- Network! Utilize your personal network efficiently and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your network is likely filled with wonderful connections. Think about your connections not only about who you know, but whom your connections may also be connected to!
- Get connected with recruiters who are experts in searches that fit your abilities and try to take them to lunch, offer them a coffee, and or to pick their brain! Also, ask them if they know of any talented job coaches for the industry! Many times they can help to shape your resume and background into a hirable form for nonprofits!
- Showcase how well rounded you are! Nonprofit generally have smaller staffs than corporations and thus need to hire staff that can command a variety of different areas! The more you can offer the organization without stepping on toes the better!
Ten Proven Nonprofit Interview Tips:
- Successfully interviewing is all about your enthusiasm, excitement, and energy. Smile and stay positive. Relax, but stay alert. Use eye contact. Be yourself. Ask questions about the position, company and the interviewer. Get them talking about themselves, and listen. Don’t ask questions about salary, commission, bonuses, vacations or anything else the company can do for you. Wait until you’ve received the job offer. Never get too comfortable. Remain professional and on guard. This is the main reason why many people do not excel in final interviews.
- Show you have the skills and desire to conduct the responsibilities of the position. Showcase your skills and sell yourself! Show them why and what you could bring to the position and organization! But do not be overconfident! Be respectful and appreciative at all times!
- Show how you connect with their mission! This is a nonprofit, they care how much you want to help others, but not more than they want to know that you are passionate about the responsibilities of the job! Nothing is more important that you are driven to do the exact work of the position you are applying for!
- Dress to impress! No matter if they are a casual environment showing you care and dressed up to meet them is important!
- Be prepared and do your homework! Prepare and show your work! Once you have an interview prepare be ready to ask thoughtful questions that are tied to the work and mission of the organization! Never ask a question that can be answered on their website, 990, or is public information. Bring questions printed with you. At the interview when they inevitably ask if you have any questions, from your professional notebook pull out three typed questions you prepared – and show you are an organized and motivated candidate.
- Practice interviewing before! Interviewing is an art, the more you do it and prepare the better you will be!
- Know the job – backward and forwards! If you know the job description so well you can mention exact wording, responsibilities, and phrasing from it, you are then fully prepared to answer questions that pertain to it. Most missed interview questions could have been better answered with better preparation!
- Know how to close but be mission-driven. The interview is a sales call; you are the product. Ask questions. Overcome objections. Tell them your interest level, availability, and why you are a superior candidate. Never name drop, it can only hurt you. You should be able to get the job on your merits alone.
- Have fun! Yes, this is the hardest part! Candidates that enjoy the meeting(s) get the job! Show your energy, but also match theirs! Show how excited you are to do the work if chosen!
- Be thankful! Email them within 24 hours of all meetings thanking each person you meet with a thoughtful and thorough note. Tell them how much you appreciated their time and mention something about the content of their work, and or organization that inspires you. Or, call out an event they had that you found to be inspirational! Find a way to create connections!
Foundation List is a national nonprofit job board designed for the not for profit sector. It is our mission to connect foundations, organizations, educational institutions and socially conscious entities to passionate mission-minded job seekers.