Top tips for people making the leap from the private or public sector to the charity sector




Lots of people working in the private or public sector assume the move to the not for profit sector will be a seamless one. The reality is that charity jobs are becoming increasingly competitive – you’ll be up again lots of people who have not for profit sector experience already. So how do you make the transition to the charity sector?

  1. Research the cause

It’s vital that you understand the charity you’re applying to – what work do they do, how are they structured and how are they funded. To be successful you need to go beyond that, you need to understand the cause. If you’re applying to a charity then spend time understanding how they operate but also make sure you’re up to speed the cause they are supporting.

  1. Show your passion

Don’t come across all gushy but do use your application form and, if you’re lucky, job interview, to hammer home the passion you have for the cause. It’s not good enough to simply state that you want to work for a charity or that you want to ‘make a difference’; you wouldn’t say that you’ve always wanted to work in the private sector if you were going for an interview with a bank. Make sure your CV is appropriately tailored to the not-for-profit sector.

  1. Get volunteering

Chances are the applicants you’re competing against will have spent years volunteering in their field before securing paid work. Volunteering gives you an opportunity to find out whether working in the third sector is for you without ditching everything and giving up your generous pension allowance or company car.

  1. Understand charity sector salaries

Competitive salaries are not uncommon in the not for profit sector. However it’s important to bare in mind that senior level salaries are still lagging well behind the private sector – despite what you read in the newspapers. This is not a sector to get rich in but you probably knew that. Think about what you want out of life, is incredible job satisfaction worth a 10k salary sacrifice?

  1. Network and add value

Before making the shift from private to not for profit sector think about building up a range of contacts – this is particularly important if you’re currently employed at a senior level. Attend conferences and events relevant to the cause or specialist area of work you’re most passionate about. Use social media, in particular LinkedIn and Twitter, to understand who the key players in your cause’s field are – connect with them, engage in conversations and add value to the network.

Do you have any other top tips for people making the leap from the private or public sector to the charity sector?