Working for a nonprofit organization is an excellent way to make the world a better place and feel good about the way you earn your paycheck. However, it’s not enough just to have a good heart or to be passionate about the work of a nonprofit. You must approach your search strategically so you can make a good impression on the hiring manager.

Beef Up Your Volunteer Experience

Volunteering is critical if you want to work for a nonprofit. You don’t necessarily have to volunteer with an organization you eventually want to work for, but you should volunteer somewhere. Using your spare time to support a cause shows that you are committed to making an impact, and it also shows that you understand how nonprofits work.

Find A Mentor And Build A Network

Networking is critical in any field, but it is especially important in the nonprofit sector. Lots of people know each other in the nonprofit world, and who you know is extremely important when you’re trying to land a job. Attend events and grow your network as much as possible so you can build a network of advocates for your career.

As you grow your network, try to identify someone who can act as a mentor, helping guide you through your career journey.  A mentor can not only advise you on your path, but they can also help you develop strategies to cope with frustrating times. Working in the nonprofit sector often means long hours, lower pay than your private-sector friends, and budgets getting slashed without warning.  Though nonprofit work is rewarding, it helps to have a support system to navigate these unique challenges.

Create A Human-Friendly Resume

Unlike corporations, most small and mid-size nonprofits still rely on humans to screen resumes. That means the tactics you use to land your resume in the “interview” pile will be slightly different.  Rather than packing your resume with specific keywords, focus more on creating a resume that flows well, is visually pleasing and connects the dots for the hiring manager. Make sure to quantify your contributions and achievements and make sure to showcase your volunteer experience in both your resume and your cover letter.

Open Yourself To Contract and Project Work

A great way to get your foot in the door of the nonprofit sector is to open yourself up to short-term project work.  Nonprofits ramp up staffing before major events and fundraising campaigns, and they often hire temporary staff as a means of controlling costs while meeting demand.  Doing a great job on a short-term basis will help you build your network, grow your list of potential references and will make you a strong candidate when a full-time position opens with the organization.

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