Graduate weapons for attacking the job hunt: the third sector

By Hannah Roberts

After a delicious break spent tearing up Croatia , I return to you on this lovely sunny Friday with my next instalment of the graduate weapons! This week I thought I’d take on something a little different; the third sector. This blog should act as a helpful insight into potential careers within this industry, giving you a broader understanding of what it is, what opportunities lie within and how you can best attain these roles.

Targeting your application
Your understanding of the third sector will allow you to identify which area you are most suited to. The third sector consists of charities, voluntary and community organisations, not-profit companies, industrial and provident societies and social enterprises.

The essentials
Start off by asking yourself what you want to achieve in your career. If you’re financially motivated with big dreams of making millions then starting your career in a non-profit organisation may not be the most suitable step. Be realistic. You’re aware that this may not be the most lucrative sector to aim for; your attraction should stem more from the prospect of the positive impact you can make in the world. It’s a case of job satisfaction over monetary gain. You’re a people person, someone with a genuine desire to do good, to help others and to make a difference; these are the characteristics that represent the future drivers of the charity sector.

Previous evidence demonstrating your support for the charity sector is a necessity. Ensure you draw attention to any preceding volunteer or charity work, detailing the situation and what you gained from it, both in terms of skills and personal reward. Fundraising is a fundamental aspect within this sector, so confidence in handling and communicating with the public is essential as well as the ability to build and maintain relationships. Be sure to include any figures from your fundraising achievements, it’s the numbers that will stand out to employers.

Your passion for the industry, be it as a whole or for one specific charity, should be the driving force behind your success. Start by highlighting your genuine interest for the sector and move on to illustrate how you’d like your career to evolve into something you genuinely want to do.

The should-haves
In terms of degree qualifications, requirements are fairly broad. However, degrees or modules relating to social policy, politics or international development will provide you with firm foundation for starting out in this sector.

Given the limited resources that organisations within this sector suffer from, spending time and money on training new staff is of low priority. Instead employers favour candidates with pre-existing experience, those with the ability to get stuck in to a role immediately. Here at Inspiring the third sector is particularly unique in that the majority of our roles that we offer in this industry do not lead on to full time roles. As a basic, entry level roles require approximately 6 to 12 months experience, be it through volunteer work or internships. Dedication and commitment is crucial.

In comparison to other industries, the third sector is relatively small in size, with the majority of candidates moving around charities and not-for-profits rather than coming from private companies. It’s not unusual to see movement from top level figures between charities and organisations. Networking will therefore act as an attractive skill to employers in this sector; don’t be afraid to utilise your contacts and mention the names of any connections you may have to your interviewer.

Social media, the fantastic free form of marketing that now acts as a crucial weapon to the third sector. It’s no surprise therefore that we’ve seen a growing interest in socially savvy candidates. If you’re down with all the platforms and have a good grasp of how companies can use them to their advantage; show it!

Hannah is a Digital Marketing Executive at Inspiring. She tweets about all things golden here: @hlcroberts and pins all things pretty here: gildthelilly. You can also connect with Hannah on Google+

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