Ask Amber: Getting the nonprofit job that you want

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

In January, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that the nonprofit sector has added more jobs than the for-profit sector over the last 10 years. So what does this report mean for job seekers?

If you aspire to a career in the nonprofit sector, these findings mean great opportunities are out there for you. You will need to be patient and persistent, because nonprofit job boards have been busy: According to the Denver Post, the Colorado Nonprofit Association job board was on track to post nearly 4,000 jobs in 2011. At JVA Consulting, we’ve also seen an uptick in jobs posted to our free job board for baby boomers.

However, before you start applying for nonprofit jobs, it is important that you consider whether or not a career in nonprofits is right for you. “No one wants to be your hobby, they want to be your passion,” says JVA Recruitment/Staff Development Manager Wendy Silveira-Steinway.

Before applying for a job, ask yourself, “is this something I would do, even if I didn’t get paid?” While we aren’t suggesting that you offer to work for free, do think about where your passion lies. Do you find yourself volunteering with certain types of organizations, such as animal shelters or human services organizations? If you are passionate enough to do it without pay, think how rewarding it would be to find paid work in one of these fields.

Passion was also a theme at JVA’s recent (and first) Nonprofit Job Networking Club. Wendy Silveira-Steinway and JVA President Janine Vanderburg recommended everyone looking for a job in the nonprofit sector have at least one “passion reference,” a person who could attest to the applicant’s passion for making a difference in the world and desire to be involved in the nonprofit sector. If you are new to the sector and don’t have a past nonprofit employer who can serve as this reference, look for an internship or volunteer position that you are willing and able to commit to. Supervisors where you volunteer or intern serve as great references, lending credibility to the fact you are willing to donate your time.

Once you have added references that are applicable to the nonprofit sector, take your updated (hint, hint!) resume to career fairs. With more jobs being added in the nonprofit sector, recruiters are using multiple channels to find the right person for the job. If there is an organization you are interested in, see if it will be represented at an upcoming career fair —this is a great opportunity to get some face time with the (likely) busy representative. If you don’t see the organization you are applying to on the list, go anyway! Career fairs will give you an idea of who is hiring and what qualifications you need for jobs similar to the ones you want. For more on how to prepare for career fairs, click here.

With an increase in nonprofit jobs, be creative about where you look and how you market yourself. If you are passionate about working in the nonprofit sector, today is the day to start looking for your new career.

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