Tips for Job Searching in the Nonprofit Sector

When one door closes, another door – or a window of opportunity – opens. Never has been such a cliche more applicable to our everyday lives than now. With the closing of investment banks, retail stores, and other for-profit corporations, we now have an abundance of smart people with diverse qualifications who are in need of a job. While corporate America is having a tough time, the nonprofit sector (or citizen sector, as I prefer to call it) provides several opportunities for unemployed professionals to utilize their skills for the common good, and not just for a company’s bottomline. Whether you are in marketing, public relations, project management, finance, or communications, your skills are needed in the nonprofit world. The following are a few job searching tips and resources that can help jumpstart your nonprofit career:

  1. Use specialized nonprofit job search engines. For starters, check out and These two web sites are very popular in the nonprofit world – organizations and individuals alike. New job postings are added almost everyday, with job descriptions and instructions on how to apply. You can also sign up for their mailing lists – be sure to customize your search criteria – so you can have job postings that might interest you delivered straight to your inbox!
  2. Research foundations, community-based organizations, and social ventures in your area. The Foundation Center has a substantial list of foundations all over the US. Skim through the web sites of several foundations and organizations, learn what they are all about – you can figure this out by reading their mission statement, checking their programs and services. Take note of certain organizations that stand out to you and check their jobs or employment page from time to time. Some foundations accept unsolicited resumes, go ahead and submit yours.
  3. Speaking of submitting resumes, be sure to make your resume and cover letter more “nonprofit-friendly.” Emphasize your dedication to social responsibility as reflected in a few projects you have worked on. Be honest about your passion to help alleviate poverty through urban housing, supporting local farm workers, or helping provide education to girls and women – whichever issue you feel strong about, feel free to discuss your connection to it. If you have volunteered for a good cause before, be sure to include it. If you have no experience whatsoever, translate your unrelated work experiences (in finance, marketing, etc.) to something that can be useful to a nonprofit organization. Another resource that will serve helpful to professionals making the transition to the nonprofit sector is Connecting Mission and Talent.
  4. To remedy your lack of experience in the nonprofit sector, why don’t you volunteer while conducting your job search? This will give you related experience and also expose you to the nonprofit world and what it really is like. This is also a good way for you to network and meet people who might lead you to your first nonprofit job! Volunteer Match is a great resource for volunteer opportunities in different cities in the US. A nonprofit organization itself, Taproot Foundation, “taps” professionals in the for-profit world to contribute their skills and talent to the citizen sector. This is another great way to gain experience.