Non-Profit Job Search

In order for you to get a job in the non-profit sector, you have to understand the purpose of the organization, believe in the cause at hand, and show a past record of skills and volunteerism that illustrate you as a good fit for a particular organization. The information below should help you understand the non-profit organization as well as how you can gain volunteer and work experience to help you in your full-time search.

What is a Non-Profit Organization?

  • Defined by Tax status

    • 501(c)(3)…plus 25 other 501(c) categorizations
    • 501(d), (e), (f), 521, and 527 categorizations
  • And Defined By What It’s Not

    • Non-profit
    • Non-government
  • Fills gap between government and for-profit

  • Does “good” or addresses an issue

Types of organizations:

  • Direct service organizations
  • Charities
  • Foundations
  • Professional associations
  • Religious organizations
  • Academic institutions
  • Health-related organizations

Nonprofit Human Resources

  • For organizations with fewer than 50 people on staff, HR is usually handled by the Executive Director or Office Manager.
  • Usually 1 fulltime HR person for an organization with over 50 people on staff.
  • Often only 1 fulltime HR staff person until an organization grows to at least 300 people.
  • The majority of organizations do not have a recruitment budget.

Nonprofit recruitment

They utilize the following channels:

  • Word of mouth (99%)
  • Current employee referrals (93%)
  • Local newspapers (80%)
  • Postings on others’ websites (73%)
  • Recruitment from recent interns (67%)
  • Postings on organization’s own site (64%)

Important Point: You need to get involved and network!!

* Data from a 2006 survey of over 300 nonprofit HR staff

On Campus Opportunities

Search for Job and Volunteer Opportunities Locally

Search for Job and Volunteer Opportunities Nationally

If you know you want to “do good”, but don’t know what exactly you want to do, try the "Career Tracks" Exercise below:


Download, photocopy, or cut out/copy & paste at least 50 job postings that when you see them you think:

  • Yeah, I’ve always wanted to do that.
  • Huh, that sounds interesting but I’m not sure why…

Once you’ve collected at least 50 postings:

  • Look for patterns or common themes
  • Create at least 1 (no more than 5) potential career tracks

Assess your end goals (ideal positions, career paths)

  • Take stock of your qualifications
  • Work backwards to your build skills and experiences accordingly

Career Tracks exercise created by David Schachter, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Considerations for Resume & Cover Letter

  • Make sure to include your volunteer experience
  • Any additional skills and training you have that would make you a utility player (languages, computer programs, etc.)
  • Show how you are a MATCH for their organization’s values AND functions
  • Show you have exhibited passion and dedication