Thinking of setting your sights on the nonprofit sector? Working for a charity can be a very gratifying and wonderful way to maximize your professional talent. In general, nonprofit organizations look for many of the same skills for-profit businesses do, but that doesn’t mean your resume, cover letter and into Standout interview answers should be exactly the same for each. There are subtle adjustments you can make to help you stand out against the competition.
Traditional corporate hierarchy doesn’t exist at many nonprofits, particularly the small- to medium-size organizations. That means you must be willing to wear many hats and pitch in even when a task is outside your job description. Speaking to your willingness to do so, and bringing up examples of when you stepped up to the plate even when the task was outside your comfort zone, will help you stress this important point.
Nonprofits require creative thinking in order to achieve their missions. Being able to think outside the box and problem-solve is important, so highlight these attributes when possible throughout your application. Maintaining donor relations and influencing outcomes is essential, and that often means stepping outside the status quo to get the job done.
Be a team player
Many people enjoy the high levels of comradery that develop when working at a nonprofit. Perhaps it’s because everyone is working toward the common good rather than just beating the bottom line. Either way, teamwork runs deep between employees at a given charity. You must show you’re comfortable, and even prefer, working with others, including a variety of personality types.
Illustrate budget management
Nonprofits often have two goals: first, their mission to better the world, and second, to receive donations to make it all possible. Staying within budget is essential for every single thing a charity does, which means employees must be good with managing numbers, even when their job isn’t in accounting. If you can stress your ability to streamline processes, influence cost savings and manage a budget, you’ll score points from the hiring manager.
Tweak the language
Just like different industries have unique terminology, so too do nonprofits. Read up to become familiar with acronyms and language nuances. Additionally, remember that certain words may mean different things in the business world than the nonprofit world. “Impact” might mean market awareness to a for-profit company, but to a nonprofit it may mean influence on a particular community.
Express the right attitude
Above all else, nonprofits want to know you’re committed to them and their cause. Show you’re passionate about what they’re doing. If you have a personal story connected to the cause, share it! It makes you more memorable. Furthermore, a positive attitude on paper and in person shows you’ll be a great addition to the team. With an optimistic outlook and can-do spirit, nonprofits won’t be able to ignore your application.