Media, fashion and advertising used to be the industries it was near impossible to get a career start in, but you can now add paid charity work to the list.
Charities, particularly the multinationals such as World Vision, UNICEF and Oxfam, are being inundated with applications for paid roles.
So with such fierce competition, what can you do if you have aspirations to establish a career in a charity?
Not with money, but with your time – volunteer your time and skills.
If your passion is to help others, prove it by helping out without being paid. The extent to which you can do this will depend on your individual circumstances, but volunteer work on your cv when applying for a paid role in a charity is almost essential.
Whilst volunteering you’ll also develop skills, make contacts and gain an understanding of the workings of charitable organisations.
Develop a broad skills base
Many charities operate on a shoe-string budget, so possessing a variety of skills makes you a more attractive proposition.
Marketing or publicity may be your area of expertise, but having fundraising or programming skills that you could also put to use would be beneficial.
Speaking more than one language and some form of international business studies are also great attributes for the larger multinationals. Indeed many graduate positions today will require some international study.
Do your homework
Research your chosen charity, their work and current affairs.
When in an interview you should be able to discuss the charity’s programmes, issues of significance and any current humanitarian crises, if that’s relevant.
You’ll be up against stiff competition so merely saying that you have a desire to help others just won’t cut it. You need to show that your interests, values and passion are aligned with those of the organisation.
Be prepared to accept a role other than your ideal preference.
It’s often the first role that is the hardest to get, so if can secure a foot-in-the-door, in your charity or area of choice, take it.
As with volunteering, you will make contacts and gain experience whilst proving yourself.
You will also be there, and may hear before others, when new roles become available.
You may also need to be flexible with location and time.
Most of the larger charities will be based in a major city, so you may need to move and certain events/activities may see your usual working day extended beyond the standard eight hours.
A career within a charity is perfect for those with a passion for helping others or the planet, but the hard work starts long before you secure that first role.