Getting Schooled in Non-Profit Job Stalking

Getting Schooled in Non-Profit Job Stalking

Yes, I admit it – I sometimes listen and heed the advice of career coaches.

One such piece of advice is to connect with my school’s alumni associations, and since I was a alumnus of Loyola here in Chicago (getting both my bachelor’s and master’s while attending classes in three different classes), I took advantage of one of their lunch & learn sessions focusing on job seeking in the non-profit sector.

Yes, I have been fortunate to stay afloat with freelance work, but unlike a colleague, I don’t think freelancing for non-profits means I lose a boss….but gain paperwork. Besides, I have no problem continuing to network, and for this week’s post, I’m going to share some of the insights I’ve learned with you, the reader. Mostly because, well, that’s my job as blogger. So here, now, are some things to consider when trying to find a job in the non-profit field:

  • Appearances and demeanor matter, especially if you’re in the non-profit field: many non-profit employees are perceived as ambassadors for the agency’s mission. Part of our goal as job seekers – if we’re looking to be hired – is to connote that sense that we can be worthy ambassadors. So doing some cleanup – removal of incriminating photos from social media, avoiding flat-out obnoxious behavior online and offline, remembering to maintain a professional demeanor – may be great ways to help us connect with non-profits.
  • Although volunteering is a great way to develop skills, it’s rarely a straight line to a job – in fact, it’s never a good idea to volunteer with the expectation of being hired. As someone who has volunteered, and who has listed it on his resume (Ok, it’s page two….and it needs to be retitled Non-Profit Experience), it can be helpful….in getting me hired elsewhere.
  • Salaries are better than you think – although entry level positions can be lower than “market value”, often non-profit position can have competitive salaries. One hint is to check out the 990 form of a potential hire via Guidestar – they usually list the top 5 people earning over $50,000. (Plus, checking out a non-profit’s financial health is also good for deciding the size of the agency you wish to work for – agencies with fiscal budgets under $1 million have a greater likelihood of staff turnover).
  • Job Descriptions Are Your Best Friend – with the ever-present tip of “inserting keywords into your resume”, looking at non-profit job descriptions via, idealist, and even Linked In can give you insight into how you can best position yourself into a non-profit position.

So, in many ways, trying to find a non-profit job is eerily similar to finding a for-profit job. In a field where there are numerous non-profit “experts”, consultants, and board members, it’s easy to lose focus. Thankfully, most of the rules for the corporate sector still apply….and you may have to work a little harder, but job success can be yours. It’s helped me in the past, and I know I’ll end up at the right gig.

As always, you can leave comments below; connect with me via Linked In (but please don’t use their standard boilerplate message, ok?), and contact me via

Thanks for reading!

Leave a comment