Top Tips For Young People Entering the NFP Sector
13 April 2018 at 2:27 pm
With Youth Week celebrations taking place around the country, NGO Recruitment director Richard Green offers his top tips for young people considering a career in the not-for-profit sector.
With NFPs currently employing over one million Australians, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) alone set to create more than 70,000 new jobs by 2019, there’s never been a more inspiring time for young people to choose a career in the NFP sector.
And yet even with younger generations becoming more socially conscious, the rewards and benefits of a NFP career are not well understood. And not many school leavers or recent graduates know where to start.
At a basic level, what many young people don’t realise is a career in the NFP sector presents a unique chance to combine technical skills with social passions, in areas as diverse as human rights, conservation, disability or the arts. And if you successfully combine these skills and interests from an early age, then you’re on the path towards a long and ultimately rewarding career.
So how do young people make sure they’re on the right track for a fulfilling career in the not-for-profit sector? Here are my top five tips.
- 1. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer
If your passion is conservation, then you’re more likely to be taken seriously by a potential conservation employer such as WWF, Taronga Zoo or Bush Heritage Australia if you can demonstrate an active involvement in this area. This is because many people working within the NFP sector are committed volunteers in their spare time.
Relevant work experience and internships are also a great way to gain experience and will look impressive on your resume. But one word of caution: do not let these placements continue for more than a couple of months. Even though you’re laying the foundations for your career, you deserve to be paid for your efforts.
- Preparation and promotion is key
You need a professional resume that’s well designed and up to date. If you don’t know where to start, there are numerous helpful guides to resume writing available online. Once it’s ready to go, ask a family member, friend or mentor to provide feedback and check for inconsistencies and typos.
But your resume is just the first step. Today, many recruiters and senior decision makers will also take a look at your LinkedIn profile, so make sure this is comprehensive and current – and your skills and experience match your resume. Upload a professional-looking photograph, outline your motivations for joining the sector and list as much volunteer experience as you can.
Being active on wider social media also enables you to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to the sector. Promote your volunteer work, not only via LinkedIn, but also Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Keep an eye on a variety of job boards, not just Seek
Although Seek is often the go-to job board, there are many others specialising in the NFP sector. The largest ones are Pro Bono Australia and Ethical Jobs but there’s a wealth of sub-sector job boards too. Do your research, subscribe to job alerts and also keep your eye on the websites of recruitment companies offering NFP roles.
Also, start to follow the organisations you’re interested in on social media as they will often post job opportunities on their pages. LinkedIn also has its own job listings which can provide a valuable source of job leads and recommendations.
- Be proactive and persistent
In addition to being reactive and responding to job ads, be as proactive and as persistent as possible. This is especially the case for recent graduates with general degrees such as business management, communications, marketing, law, psychology or accounting, where there’s huge competition for graduate roles.
Firstly, pinpoint your motivations for joining the sector. Does your passion lie in human rights, refugees or disability? Or a combination of all three? From here, identify and research the organisations that represent these motivations. Once you’ve done this, you should have around 50 or so NFPs on your shortlist.
You then need to email your resume to as many decision makers within these organisations as you can. Explain why you’re contacting them and ask to be considered if a junior role comes up. Follow up with a phone call. And keep doing this until someone responds, saying “great, please come in”.
- Get your foot in the door
Finally, while you’re proactively job hunting, consider temping within the NFP sector to at least get your foot in the door. Recruitment companies such as NGO Recruitment offer a wide range of temporary opportunities lasting from as little as one or two days to longer contracts lasting several months.
These may not ultimately be your perfect roles, but you’ll be gaining invaluable experience, and contacts, while being paid. And if you show initiative and are good at what you do, temp roles can often lead to other opportunities within an organisation.
About the author: Richard Green is the director of NGO Recruitment.