Nonprofit Job Search Tips – Resume Writing & Skill Sections

Topic: Nonprofit job search tips; Resume Writing & Skill Sections

If you are like most job seekers you have not put enough time into your resume. Following are resume writing tips to help you while foundation job seeking. 

Q: Have you had two other people proof your resume? Have you written detailed skills sections? Have you listed who you reported to in each of your past positions?

If not, you may wish to considering the following to improve your resume. No matter who you are (even an experienced recruiter) everyone has room to improve their resume.


Why Use Skills Sections?

The truth is the skills sections are useful to show that you can form a resume that explains your background as applied to the job description. You should have applicable skills sections: research skills, writing skills, finance skills, budgeting experience, and so on as needed for your resume and the job.

It also most important gives you the ability to describe skills and abilities that you may not have completed in your past jobs. If you are switching to a new area, or hoping to get a job with more responsibilities skill sections are your key to showing you can do the work and should be met with.

If you can look at the job opening/description you are applying for and boil the description down to the main three key areas the employer is requiring in candidates (think from the perspective of the Human Resources team or decision maker) those three key areas are the areas you will want to list as your skill sections to put yourself in the best situation to gain the interview.

Let me give you an example, if wanted to land a Director of Operation role, but had never been a Director in the past I would include the following skill sections (presumably) at the top of my resume.

Operational Leadership Skills

  • X
  • Y
  • Z

Staff Management / Leadership Skills

  • X
  • Y
  • Z

Strategic & Financial Planning Skills

  • X
  • Y
  • Z


Do Use A Word Template

In all word and programs there are pre-made templates that you can use. Do that, and don’t try to design your own unless you have amazing with publisher and are graphic artist – otherwise it will only make you look quirky. This is a free resource and a very good idea.


Popular Things Done Wrong On A Resume Or During The Process:

  1. Resume is not spelled Re’sume’ using italics, and do not use contractions on your resume or cover letter. They are a no-no.
  2. Objectives are not needed.
  3. The length no longer matters. We are not in the 80’s any longer the one page resume is a thing of the past. The more info the better as long as you are not long winded. Just keep it under 3 pages.
  4. Do not misspell the name of the person you are sending to.
  5. Do not use a template for your cover letter – and if so make sure to change all the needed areas on it.
  6. Do not use cursive or odd fonts or colors. Stick to the normal. And make sure, if you are using your old cover letter template you are typing in the same font size and type. Nothing looks more tacky than when applicants forget this and type in a different font. Foundations will not consider you if you do not spend the needed time in preparation.
  7. Do not include a picture – it’s a red flag.
  8. Do write a full page for your cover letter and use a business letter format. If you don’t remember how: Google it.
  9. Do follow up in a professional and courteous manner about your application.
  10. Do not use general words or language describing yourself like organized, motivated, team player, and so on. We want you to show us this in other ways, not on your resume.
  11. Do not show up too early or be late at all for your interview. Five minutes before your time is perfect. Never be late even for one minute. Showing up at 12:01 for a 12:00 o’clock interview should not be done – and reflects poorly. Motivated candidates show up early – but not 20 minutes before, that is way too early.


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