Résumé Advice for Non-Profit Organizations that Benefit the Common Good 

If you’re looking for opportunities where you can contribute to social and community well-being, working for 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profit organizations are great options to consider. 501(c)(3)s are limited to purposes that are “charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals” (IRS). 501(c)(4)s are similar, as they promote social welfare, but differ from 501(c)(3)s in the ways they are allowed to advocate for their cause(s). 

This blog will provide you with guidance on creating a strong résumé for either type of non-profit and includes insider tips from one of our Career Champions, Bernard Alexander, who is a Recruitment Manager for Teach For America, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. 

As always, we recommend tailoring your résumé to the organization and position you are applying for. 

You will want to highlight relevant skills and experience: 

  1. Review the job description and identify key words and skills. This is especially important because different types of non-profit organizations differ in the way they are allowed to pursue their organizational mission. Make sure you are paying close attention to the skill set used in the role. 
  1. Update your bullet point statements to include the key words and skills that correlate to the position you’re applying for. 

Use our Résumé and Cover Letter Guidebook for help building effective bullet point statements. 

When applying to non-profit organizations, there are some things you should always include on your résumé. 

You should highlight experience with non-profit organizations. Not just employment experience, but volunteer and internship experience too. 

Try to include these top two skills/qualities Bernard says successful candidates have: being a personable and intentional listener and having leadership experience. 

  1. Being personable and an intentional listener: 

“Not only is this a great interview point, but also in building and maintaining relationships in your professional life. I see this in how students thoughtfully research Teach for America and speak to the mission, but also how it personally impacted their lives. I see this in how they maintain wide networks in their own campuses and organizations. I hear this in conversation when candidates ask me thoughtful questions about my place in the organization or how I joined. There’s many different ways to be personable, but I think ultimately it comes down to how you interact with people on a one-on-one level.” 

This could look like featuring experiences working with diverse people, communities, or constituencies. Language, communication, and facilitation skills, along with relevant experience in diverse arenas, can be a critical addition to a nonprofit résumé.  

  1. Leadership: 

“The second skill, at least for Teach for America, is leadership. How much leadership experience do you have and your style of leadership is super important. Understand it’s bigger than you and set clear expectations and processes to achieve goals.” 

Leadership does not have to mean starting a new organization. It means you have an ability to get the job done and make things happen, especially if it’s behind the scenes. Demonstrate that you have taken initiative to go above and beyond what was expected of you and make sure you highlight the outcome of your accomplishments. 

What to highlight when you think you do not have any relevant experience: 

“My advice here would be to highlight service. Anything in service of others, whether it was volunteer experience, service work with your campus organization, anything of the such would be super important.”

As mission-driven organizations, be sure to include any experience with the specific issue(s) on which the organization focuses. Also consider any experiences you have that demonstrate commitment to a particular cause or organization. Check out our guide on highlighting service on your resume: Highlight Service on Your Résumé

Again, as mission-driven organizations, Bernard Bernard suggests using keywords in your bullet points:  “All non-profits have a mission statement, study that mission statement, look for key words and try to include them in the responsibilities of the experiences you do have.”

As always, our Career Coaches are available to help you develop your application materials, practice for interviews, and help you take the next step in your career process. Use this link to book an appointment with one of our Coaches: https://career.uconn.edu/meet-with-a-career-coach/ 

By Heidi Pineda
Heidi Pineda DE&I Career Ambassador Program Coordinator