CV / Resume Preparation for Charity and Third Sector Jobs


Writing a strong CV is always a crucial part of getting hired. However, different kinds of jobs require different kind sorts of CVs. For example, someone looking to get hired in the nonprofit sector should tailor their CV a certain way; charities, not-for-profits, and NGOs assess potential employees differently than do for-profit businesses.

One of the biggest differences between getting hired by a conventional business and a charity is the relative importance of volunteer work. Not-for-profits place far more weight on what prospective employees have done in the way of volunteering, especially if the candidate has never worked for a nonprofit before. This is because charities want their workers to be guided by a spirit of care and concern for others. While normal businesses are focused on profits, charities exist to serve the community.

In practical terms, this means a CV prepared for a charity should have a large section focused solely on volunteer work. This volunteer work should be described in much the same way a normal job would be; the candidate should explain what they did and the impact and importance of their efforts in detail. The more a volunteering experience can be tied to the nonprofit’s specific mission, the better. Every possible example of volunteering experience should be listed, since nonprofits want candidates who possess a true passion for charity.

Many people looking for not-for-profit jobs have no direct experience in charity work. Besides emphasising their volunteer experience, such people must show that the skills they have acquired in their career are transferable to the nonprofit world. Prospective employees should avoid using the sort of industry jargon and technical terms that will confuse outsiders. A CV prepared for a nonprofit should be a simpler affair, with competencies and abilities explained in an easy to grasp manner. Most nonprofit managers won’t understand (or care about) corporate speak, since charities have little use for over-complicated buzzwords and technical jargon.

Nonprofits are also most interested in candidates who thoroughly understand their charity’s ethos and mission. This means those interested in working for a specific nonprofit should do lots of research on that charity beforehand. While many jobs for regular companies are essentially generic, each charity is different and has its own particular goals, making research critical. Prospective employees who don’t demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the nonprofit’s activities, projects, and overall vision won’t get hired.

This is because working at a charity requires more than the possession of a certain set of skills, or having the right resumé / CV. Without a genuine passion for the charity’s goals, even an otherwise ideal candidate would be a bad hiring choice. Therefore, the ‘softer’ parts of a CV are more important when it comes to not-for-profit positions. Potential candidates must make their enthusiasm and desire to do good obvious. Zeal, genuine commitment, and the right attitude can be more important in charity work than anything else.

Working at a charity or not-for-profit can be an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience, in ways that careers with for-profit companies rarely are. In light of this fact, it makes sense for charity job seekers to put lots of effort into tailoring their CV specifically for nonprofit work. The main thing to understand is that volunteer work and other evidence of a true passion for a nonprofit’s goals are especially important to landing the job.

Image 1: “Third Sector Paper” ©howardlake –

With 20+ years of experience writing CVs, it still puts a smile on my face when I hear a client has secured an interview Lee Tonge - Founder and Director


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