Getting a graduate job in the charity sector is different from finding one elsewhere. For a start, few organisations in the charity and not-for-profit sector (also known as the third sector) are big enough to run specific training schemes. They may not target graduates and they may not advertise jobs widely. That can make graduate job hunting frustrating. The good news is when you understand the sector and how its recruitment works, you’ll know where to look for them.
Recruiters in the charity sector don’t have large advertising budgets, so they often use low-cost or free advertising when it comes to job adverts. That means you won’t find many charity jobs on graduate job websites.
This is different from other employment sectors, and it can trip you up if you’re looking for graduate jobs in charities in the usual places.
Now that you know where not to look, you can start looking in the right places. Start with local job sites and community social media groups, and sign up to charities’ newsletters. Larger organisations will advertise on national job sites and via their own social media.
Since charities may not be recruiting specifically for graduates, there’s little point in searching for jobs with the word ‘graduate’ in them. Instead, look for entry-level roles, such as assistant or co-ordinator ones, and browse charities’ websites to see what job titles they use for jobs that sound graduate level. At the same time, look at the skills and qualities they’re looking for and think about how you could demonstrate or acquire them.
There are specialist recruitment agencies for the charity and not-for-profit sector. Most are based in London, although they may place candidates for jobs all around the UK. In most cases, you’ll be able to register for agencies online. For best results, you should contact the agency on a regular basis to make sure they know you are still looking for work.
Volunteer your way to permanent employment
Volunteering is a popular way to get into charity work. It’s also the best way to figure out how organisations operate and it’ll give you greater awareness of what work in this sector could entail. Plus, it’s a good way of proving your dedication to a cause and will mean you’re in the right place to take advantage of any vacancies which do open up.
The downside is that you won’t be earning any money, and volunteering for a charitable organisation doesn’t guarantee you a job with them. If you’re going to take this route, be clear with yourself and your employer about what you’ll get out of the experience and how long you'll be there.
A another option is a voluntary internship. These are more formal than standard voluntary work: you’ll have a programme of tasks or projects and you’ll be there for a set time, so you’ll be clearer on what you’ll achieve and by when. Some charity internships can be done part time, so that you can combine them with other work.
Graduate training schemes
A few charities and non-profits have set up their own graduate training schemes, but they’re still uncommon in the sector. As a result, there’s a lot of competition for places.
Experience in the voluntary sector will help your application, as will a commitment to the cause of the organisation you’re applying to. After that – as with all graduate jobs – it all comes down to how good your application is. Make sure that it’s tailored to the role, it emphasises what you can offer and hope to achieve and it’s concise and error-free.