I have blogged recently about the various aspects of CV writing, which apply as much to jobs in the charity sector as anywhere else. These rules are, briefly, that you be concise and relevant in everything you say and do.
There are, though, some areas of your experience that may not quite “fit” with the normal run of the mill CV writing experience. Transferable skills are a big part of your first foray into charity work, as are experiences you have had that are not professional.
The key, as ever, is to make sure the information you give has direct relevance to the role you are applying for. When you look at thirdsector, what is it you are actually trying to get into? So I’m going to augment my recent advice about CVs with some straightforward advice about advertising yourself as an employable prospect in the charity sector. And that starts with a re-evaluation of what the CV really is, what its purpose and function should be.
The CV is you in bullet points, as I have noted. But it doesn’t have to be you in professional life only. And we’re not talking about the “personal interests” bugbear here. What we are looking for is non-paid roles you may have filled, or still be filling, which bolster your application for the role in question.
So yes, we’re back again with making everything on that CV stand out with specific relation to the role you are after. No fluff please. And that means: if you have yet to have volunteering experiences that inform you for the role and charity sector you are trying to get into, then maybe you should go off and get them. The best not for profit CVs show willing and determination – a passion, in other words, for the kind of charity work being done by the organisation you want to work for.
A charity can’t afford to have people on board who are not genuinely passionate about the work it does. So the jobs at thirdsector are more likely to be given to people who have done voluntary work in that sector already, or who have prior professional experience in it. In either case, they will have a demonstrable track record in the area.
Charity work is unique in this sense, in that you can get experience to quite a high level without having to hold down a job in the area. The volunteer sector gives you all the opportunities you need to get the experience you want – and furthermore it shows evidence of independence of thought, the ability to self motivate and the initiative that all employers want from their future workers.
Because charity is a sector that requires passion and determination, the very fact that you have done volunteer work will stand you in good stead. Indeed the more volunteer work you do the better the stead in which you will be standing.
Think of a charity CV as a document making bullet points out of every applicable part of your life.