CV guidance for charity or non profit jobs
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Create a killer CV for charity and non profit employers. Download our free CV template, follow our step-by-step guide and access 'premium' resources to take your CV development to the next level. Start your new career here!
Our range of CV guidance will help you put together a great CV. We've developed these with recruitment agency nfp Resourcing and careers guru John Lees. This page has a step-by-step guide to writing and structuring your CV, a FREE CV template, and links to 'premium' CV guidance.
This page includes:
- Key steps to a better CV
- Once you've registered for free download of our non profit CV template
- 'Premium' CV guidance
- Next steps
There is no ‘perfect’ CV format. Many professionals will have more than one CV so they can present themselves in different ways to different audiences.
The guidance set out below is based on many ideas that have proved successful in the non profit sector; they should be considered the key elements of a ‘good’ CV.
Your CV is usually the first and sometimes the only opportunity that a potential employer will have to find out about you and the knowledge, skills and attributes you have to offer.
It is your one opportunity to really sell yourself.
Employers are busy people. They will receive a lot of written information every day. A long CV will not be read. The most effective CVs are usually between two and three pages.
The layout of your CV should be ‘easy on the eye’. In other words, try to avoid the temptation to cram as much information in as possible by extending the margins or reducing the font size. The reader should be able to quickly skim the CV and know what your key strengths are.
Like advertisements, having space around text ‘leads the eye’ towards it. Look in any magazine or newspaper with job advertisements and see which ones catch your eye.
Below you’ll find some recommendations on the sections that you should consider when putting together your CV.
The sections follow on from each other in a logical sequence based on the perspective of the employer. The CV begins with where you are, not from where you started.
Be objective and be brief. Use short sentences. If it can be said in three words, do so.
When talking about your achievements, be positive. Talk about ‘I’ not ‘we’. Be clear about what you personally have achieved.
Yes, it is possible to include your photograph on your CV. The question you should consider is whether it is necessary.
There is substantial social and scientific research evidence demonstrating that people make judgements about others simply on appearance. It is your skills that employers should be interested in first and foremost.
Section 1: your personal statement
Your CV should begin with your name and then a short personal statement setting out your key skills and attributes. More and more employers are selecting on the basis of the skills and attributes that are necessary in order to be effective in the role. Irrespective of the length or breadth of experience, can the person ‘do the job’?
Your personal statement should be an affirmation of you as a professional. It will be the first thing the employer will read. Use words like ‘I’ and be positive. For example, “I am an effective team-player” sounds more positive and confident than “I like working as a member of a team”.
Section 2: your current (or most recent) job
This should be in a separate section on its own rather than included in your ‘Employment History’ section.
Your current or most recent experience will usually be the most relevant to the employer.
They will, of course, want to know key facts such as your current employer, job title, salary, the date you took up the position and your notice period.
They will also want to know what your duties and responsibilities are, or were. You should not assume that the job title says it all. Words like ‘coordinator’, ‘manager’ or ‘director’ are used in many different contexts and can mean very different things.
You should set out your key personal achievements in the role. What have you personally done? Include things like:
- income targets
- amounts raised
- budgets managed
- staff managed
- policies developed
- changes implemented.
Simply setting out the scope of the role will not highlight your personal contribution. What value have you added? How have you made a difference?
Section 3: your employment history
Begin with the most recent and work backwards.
Do not provide substantial detail about jobs that are not relevant to the role, or roles, you are now applying for. The employer is not likely to be interested in temporary or casual jobs you have held a long time ago.
Your employment history should demonstrate consistency and progression. If you have held a number of different positions in different organisations and different sectors, it may be useful to include the reasons why you made these career choices.
Include the key facts, summarise the key responsibilities and your personal achievements.
Section 4: professional qualifications, professional memberships, training
These will be of more interest to an employer in the first instance - more so than academic qualifications.
Your professional qualifications and memberships of professional bodies – for example, the Institute of Fundraising, ACEVO – demonstrate your commitment to career development.
Include any other relevant professional training that you have completed.
Section 5: volunteering
Most people working in the sector, or who are looking to transfer from the commercial sector, will be able to demonstrate their commitment through the voluntary work they do.
Many employers in the sector consider it essential to have had at least some experience of being involved as, or with, charity volunteers, supporters, etc.
You may also have experience of being a member of a voluntary management group such as a school governing body, a management committee or board of trustees.
Section 6: other skills
This section allows you to expand in a little more detail on other skills you may have, for example, IT. Set out the hardware and software programmes you are familiar with.
It can be useful to state whether you are an advanced user of particular software programmes or are commonly used in the sector, for example, supporter database software.
If you have a driving licence or languages, include it here.
Section 7: academic qualifications
Keep this section as short as possible. If you have a degree or any postgraduate qualifications, simply state the subject, the awarding institution and the date. Providing the grade is optional.
There is no need to include the full address of the institution. It simply takes up space.
The details of academic qualifications gained prior to degree level study should only be included if you think that they are relevant. For example, it can be assumed that you had the necessary qualifications in order to gain a degree. If you want to include these qualifications, name the institution, location and date.
Section 8: personal interests
Think carefully about what your personal interests say about you before writing a list of things you like doing. If they do not add to the ‘picture’ of you, why include them?
Section 9: your contact details
It is not necessary to put your personal contact details right at the beginning of your CV. It is not what the employer is interested in at the outset.
If you include daytime contact numbers or email addresses, you should expect to be contacted at these times.
Including your date of birth is optional. Good employers will have policies that prevent discrimination on the basis of age. In any event, your employment and academic history can give some indication of your age. Awareness of age discrimination has increased over recent years.
Details of your nationality, ethnicity, and marital status are irrelevant for your CV. They are not an indicator of ability so do not include them.
If you require a permit in order to work in the UK then simply say so.
KnowHow Non Profit have worked with nfp Resourcing to develop a CV template to help you put together a hard-hitting non profit CV.
The template includes hints on tips on how to format your CV as well as sample information to get you started.
Once registered, download the free CV template (registration takes about 30 seconds)
Follow the links below for access to:
- seven real CVs that got real non profit jobs
- a masterclass from leading careers expert, John Lees
- Check out our step by step guide to job interviews to find out how to prepare for the big day and nail that good first impression
- Listen to career advice from recruitment experts, our forum3 podcasts cover CV advice, career development, job interviews and applications
- Your learning and development, helping you identify opportunities to develop the skills you'll need to succeed in the workplace
- Volunteering overseas, if you need experience in the non profit sector, volunteering could be the way forward - check out the pros and cons of international volunteering
Other sources of help