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Find the perfect charity job: quiz the experts

Career Changing to the Charity and Not-for-Profit Sector

One of the most frequent questions we get asked at the I Am Group is how to go about making a career change from the corporate sector.  Here we ask four experts to give their top tips for finding a job in the charity sector.

Paul Cullen, Celebrity and VIP Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support

Paul Cullen

My top tip for finding a job in the charity sector is to get online. Every major charity invests in managing their profile across multi-platforms highlighting the work they are involved in and how this can be best supported. This provides the opportunity to find out significant information about the organisation, and uncover whether you feel it is somewhere where your talents can best be utilised. In addition to getting an in-depth analysis of the organisation through their annual report, usually published online, you will also find out what positions are up for grabs via their recruitment pages.

Chris Reed – Head of Volunteering, St John Ambulance

Chris Reed

Volunteering – try before you buy (and more)!

Whether you’re looking to move from one sector to another in the same field or looking for something completely new, volunteering offers a unique insight into the world of charities and not-for-profits. However it’s important to remember that for many organisations it’s their volunteers that enable them to deliver their mission so even here there’s likely to be a competitive element to the recruitment process. Don’t be surprised if you hear terms like commitment and expectations as well as reward and recognition. Organisations like St John Ambulance invest a huge amount of time and money in their volunteers to ensure they are capable of saving lives, so be ready for this. Volunteering isn’t just about a try before you buy, it can enable you to demonstrate passion and commitment to a cause which goes a long way in a job interview.  Just remember, even volunteering can be a competitive market place!

Nigel Scott, Course Director, MSc Management in Civil Society (Accounting & Financial Management)

Nigel Scott

Getting a job is like selling yourself, you need a Unique Selling Point, preferably one which gives you an edge over your competitors. General degrees are almost a given these days but specialist postgraduate qualifications will make your CV stand out from the crowd. If you’re moving from a specialist role, say childcare, to a management role then getting that Postgrad Certificate in Charity Management could be the one thing that swings the offer your way. The better equipped you are to start the job you want, the more likely the employer is to take you on. It’s a good investment for them and it’s a good investment for you.

Peter Coley, Head of Learning & Development, Le@rn 33, St Mungo’s

Peter Coley

…..and when you are invited for an interview, Peter offers this advice for giving a successful performance!

The STAR technique provides a useful framework to structure an interview and is now widely used within charities that use behavioural questions as the basis for interviews. The STAR technique works on the assumption that past behaviour provides reliable clues to future behaviour and performance.  Situational questions give you the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and competencies by giving examples of previous experience.

You should prepare to answer in the STAR format – Situation, Target, Actions, Results – and will be expected to give evidence of previous experience to demonstrate your suitability for a role.

A STAR response is as follows:

S: Describe the situation

T: Explain the task/problem that arose

A: What action did you take?

R: What was the result or outcome? What did you learn from this experience?


  • Preparation is the key to all interviews!
  • Only 15% of the success of an interview is out of your control!

So there you have the views of our panel of experts!

You can meet our panel and other experts at our next evening careers event Find the perfect charity job on 28 January. This has been designed for everyone interested in working or volunteering in the charity and not-for-profit sector, whether you’re a career changer with skills to bring or a new graduate looking for that first break!  To find out more and book a place click here.

This blog is brought to you by the I Am Group.  We work with charities to provide networking and learning events and help charities and not-for-profit organisations recruit the best staff.  You can find out more about us at www.iamenterprises.co.uk and to join our monthly networking events visit www.monthlycharitynetworking.eventbrite.co.uk.  

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