If you’re ready to make a transition to a more meaningful career, you can find your next dream job at a nonprofit organization. And now’s the time! After a few tough years following the recession, nonprofits are hiring again in a big way.
In fact, according to our organization’s 2014 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, 46 percent of nonprofits expanded their staff size in 2013—and 45 percent plan to create new positions in the upcoming year. As a whole, the industry is stronger than ever, with 10.7 million people employed by the nonprofit sector, making it the third largest U.S. industry behind only retail and manufacturing.
This proves that most of the misconceptions about the nonprofit sector–that you can’t make money or find real success at a nonprofit–are entirely false. The sector presents valuable, meaningful opportunities, and smart, career-driven people are flocking to nonprofits in record numbers.
So where should you look to find your dream nonprofit job and how can you position yourself as a top candidate? Read on for inside insight and expert tips.
1. Understand who’s hiring.
Target your search at the most popular subsectors. Which fields anticipate the greatest increase in new positions? International/foreign affairs, health, public and societal benefit, and culture and humanities organizations seem to be the best places to look, with over half of organizations in those subsectors planning to create new positions in 2014. Within these growing areas, you’ll discover a greater number of job postings, which means you’ll have a better chance of finding a good fit for your skillset, background and passion.
2. Know where to look for jobs.
Start with your informal networks. The most popular way for nonprofits to find candidates is tapping into networks of friends and colleagues—93 percent of organizations surveyed use this outlet to connect with qualified candidates. Beyond that, nonprofits look to local university and college career center databases, LinkedIn, and Craigslist, as well as their own websites and various job posting sites to find candidates. Check out Idealist.org, ASAE: CareerHQ, CEO Update, professional associations’ job boards, and Indeed.com to get started.
On the social media front, LinkedIn is the top social media tool for recruitment among nonprofits, with 60 percent of organizations reporting use. And usage of Twitter and Facebook for recruitment purposes has also increased, so being active and professionally engaged across your social networks will help you locate the latest job listings and make connections with recruiters.
3. Position yourself for the most popular types of positions.
Among the nonprofits surveyed, the largest areas of anticipated job growth include direct services, program management/support, and fundraising/development. To secure one of these positions, be sure to showcase relevant skills on your resume, or if you need to, work to build your experience in these areas. Depending on your interests and passions, find opportunities to take on a leadership role, work directly with those in need, or raise funds for a cause. You could start a fundraising event at your current job, volunteer at a local homeless shelter or community center or get involved in pro-bono work. The bottom line: Hands-on experiences that demonstrate your drive and contribute to a greater purpose will set you apart as a top candidate for these types of nonprofit jobs.
4. Show you have the hard and soft skills to succeed in the sector.
Once you’ve identified the organizations and open positions, it’s time to fill out applications and prepare for interviews. The key to getting a nonprofit recruiter’s attention? Show that you have what it takes by emphasizing your relevant experience, top accomplishments and passion for helping others in a concise, engaging format.
Even if your current job is much different than the one you’re applying to, highlight your transferable skills, both “soft skills”—that is, personal qualities such as resourcefulness, creativity, a positive attitude, or a collaborative spirit—and “hard skills”—the technical requirements such as experience in sales, marketing, writing, or research. Your personality and your background could be a great fit for a number of nonprofit positions, but it’s up to you to clearly demonstrate how they apply.
Even if you’ve been unemployed for a long time, don’t shy away from applying for a job in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits might provide meaningful social services to those who have lost their jobs, but they’re also highly receptive to hiring those who have been out of work for awhile so long as you bring the right skills and mindset to the job.
These four steps are just what you need to find (and land!) a rewarding, meaningful nonprofit job. Organizations are hiring, and they’re looking for dedicated, motivated, and talented people like you. So start searching! Your dream job awaits.