How to Let Your Volunteer Experience Shine to Land Your First Nonprofit Job
By: Sydney Harris
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization or ministry. Their passion and initiative are what help nonprofits to go farther and faster in their service to the communities around them, and without these helping hands, the organizations would not have nearly as large an impact. From time to time, those who serve in a volunteer capacity discover their desire to use their passions and gifts vocationally. It can often be daunting to apply for roles within a non-profit organization without any full-time experience in the industry, but lack of full-time experience does not account for passion, capacity, and drive.
Here are 3 ways to ensure that your resume emphasizes your ability to take on a role in the nonprofit world:
1. Highlight your qualifications
Whether it be a degree in entrepreneurship, experience with project management or marketing, or any other credentials you may have, be sure to highlight the experience you have that is relevant to the role and organization. Do your research and know what the role requires, there are many transferable skills from the for-profit world that would add value to a nonprofit organization, so be sure to emphasize the skillsets you bring to the table. When it comes to your volunteer experience, highlight the hours you invested in volunteering as well as the capacity to which you served. Were you a volunteer with a higher level of leadership? These are things hiring teams look for when evaluating resumes.
2. Emphasize your key accomplishments
When applying for roles, people often underestimate the power of showing metrics and accomplishments. In your resume, make sure to show measurable accomplishments that are relevant to what the role is looking for. Even if it is in a volunteer type role, if you led a team, recruited other volunteers, implemented systems to make a process more efficient, or had any other accomplishments, they are absolutely things worth mentioning in your application. These types of achievements accentuate a resume by showing the person who reviews it your ability to succeed in a variety of scenarios, whether it be in a volunteer role or your full time occupation.
3. Communicate your passion
Passion is important to convey when applying to any role, but is especially crucial when expressing interest in a role with a non-profit organization. It can often be harder to clearly convey passion on a paper resume, but there are a few ways it can be done. Be sure to highlight the “why” - communicate why you are passionate about that specific role or organization. Why do you want to work for that specific nonprofit? What makes you a better candidate than others who might apply to the role? Showing your heart and care for what the organization does and stands for is a great way to catch the eye of the person making the hire. It shows that the role is more than just an occupation, but is related to a deeper sense of calling. If you have served in organizations with a similar mission or goal, it is definitely worth sharing that background. Convey your commitment to the cause by showing the time and effort you have already committed to similar organizations.
When you are working to write your resume for future nonprofit roles, be sure to keep these pointers in mind. Do not underestimate your abilities just because you may not have served in a full time capacity. By emphasizing your qualifications, accomplishments, and passion, your resume will be sure to stand out amongst other applicants in the candidate pool.