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Have you made any recent attempts at getting a high paying NGO job?
How did it work out for you? What was your experience?
Are you still interested in pursuing a career in NGO and charity?
Perhaps, this is the reason you are on the internet, searching for the best information on how to get it right with your next try.
This blog post will provide every information you need to know about getting a befitting NGO job with ease.
A few times, I have heard people complain about how getting good jobs with both local and International NGOs is such an uphill task.
However, I can tell you for free, that NGO jobs are not as difficult as some of these people claim it to be.
The truth is, to earn a great position at any reputable NGO, there are a couple of key actions you have to get right. Unfortunately, these key actions have held a number of people back, who paid no attention to them.
The main reason most eligible candidates continually fail at landing their desired jobs in charity, is because they cannot tell what they are doing right from what they are doing wrong while chasing all the opportunities that come their way.
As a final solution to this problem, I have put together some important secrets in this blog post. These are a compendium of everything I learnt about this topic from seven (7) years of personally experiencing and interacting with recruiters in the humanitarian sector.
Anyone can achieve quality success in their NGO job search, by implementing the tips outlined here.
How to Get a Good NGO Job (Applicable to both Local and International NGO Opportunities)
Good things do not always come easy. Getting a deserving job at an NGO does not happen without some level of focused work on your part.
It’s like a process if you come to think of it.
The process to getting a great job at an NGO or any other high paying job for that matter begins with the following steps:
1)Being Prepared for Opportunity Before Opportunity Comes
You may have asked questions like; what qualifications do I need for an NGO job? Do I need to learn any new languages before applying for an NGO job? and more.
Knowing the answers to these questions is a great way to start your journey to an NGO career.
What qualifications are required?
I receive this question a lot from people who have interests in pursuing a career with non-profit organizations.
There is however, no specific answer to this, as different job roles will require different qualifications.
While some positions require that candidates have a technical certificate, diploma or degree, others may require certification in other highly specialized professional trainings/courses.
You should define what aspect of non-profit work interests you and tactfully build your competence in those areas first.
It wouldn’t be good if your employment history showed that you lost a new job sooner because you could not make it through the probation period (due to how glaringly incompetent you were during those first months on the job).
So, get the right training and certifications first!
What languages are necessary to acquire?
Local NGOs, or International NGOs operating in your country may require you to be able to communicate in the indigenous language of the locality where the project is located, as well as the country’s general language – the lingua franca.
For example, as a Nigerian who is Igbo by tribe, if I desire to work in Maiduguri (Borno) with an NGO dedicated to taking care of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) due to Boko Haram activities in the area, I will stand a good chance over other applicants if in addition to my academic or technical skills/qualifications, I am able to speak the local language of the area – Hausa/Kanuri fluently, as well as the English language which is Nigeria’s official language.
For applicants interested in International NGO jobs as expatriates, knowing to speak the local language will definitely make you more desirable, though in some cases, you may earn a chance if you can at least communicate in the official language of that country, as you will need this to keep good communication with the national staff you will work with when you get there.
Here is another suitable instance; Let’s say you are British, and desire to work with the an NGO in The Republic of Guinea. You become a more desirable candidate and may earn a chance, if you can speak a local language like Fula (spoken by 40% of the citizens), or at least French – the official language of the country.
What skills and competencies will make me more attractive?
Besides having the appropriate academic qualifications , other things that show your suitability for a great NGO job include having a number of highly desirable skills and competencies.
You should cultivate good communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal.
If you can demonstrate team spirit, great work ethics and flexibility in handling diverse roles when situations demand, the recruitment committee will perceive you as a great addition to the team, and they will give you the job.
Ability to remain productive under intense work pressure is a sought after quality that NGOs look to spot in candidates.
Other skills like report writing, data collation, team leadership will make you appear like a great fit too.
2) Being on a Constant Lookout for Opportunities
Unlike in the past when the middle pages of the daily newspapers carried new job adverts, times have changed.
These days, you will find most opportunities to work or volunteer with reputable NGOs on the internet.
There are numerous job websites that publish these advert. You should find them.
Some of the job sites or forums will require you to subscribe with them, and have fresh job notifications sent directly to your email address.
It is left to you to decide whether to subscribe for regular updates, or to bookmark the website on your browser so that you can visit any other time
Whatever you decide, bear in mind that these websites are one of the most indispensable tools for whoever is seeking opportunities for high paying NGO jobs.
If you cannot find any job sites that share a good number of NGO job adverts, search up all the NGOs working on your area of interest on Google. Copy out their official websites.
A great number of them have career pages where they put up loads of local and international job vacancies for their different projects all over the world
3) Applying For The Job
Applying for a job with an NGO first begins with writing and submitting your resume and cover letter.
Some organizations will make provisions for you to submit your application at a designated physical location (mostly at their operation centers), or through the post office.
Other organizations will require you to fill out a form accessible from their website, or to send an email.
Whichever way the organization prefers to collect applications from different candidates is their decision.
On your side, it is good to find out what an NGO really expects from a choice candidate.
This will help you make a better presentation, and consequently increase your chances at being selected and invited for an interview.
Your cover letter is a tool that deserves good attention, so you must learn to create a great cover letter.
To find the best creatively written professional cover letter templates and sample formats that you can simply recreate to make your personalized application stand out by your next job application, click here.
No matter how you personalize you cover letter, there are things you must never leave out in your application.
A good application letter is your first impression to the hiring manager or recruitment committee. Your contents in the letter should make him/them eager to invite you for an interview,
RELEVANT: Find out how to get an NGO job without having any previous work experience
4) Taking The First Recruitment Test
Many NGOs have sustained the culture of inviting candidates with impressive credentials to a written interview. Others organize a computer-based test (CBT).
This will be your first personal contact with direct representatives of the NGO you have applied to work for.
They schedule for this test to hold at a physical center they communicate to the short-listed candidates, or at a specified time online.
At this point in the selection process, your assessment will be largely based on how well you present your thoughts in writing, or how correctly you select relevant answers in line with the questions asked.
You should be mindful of the time allocated for the whole exercise.
I recommend making attempts at all the questions, except you know that you have nothing brilliant to write for the very section you are skipping.
Of course, you should prepare for the test by reading vastly. But, questions will most likely revolve around the NGO’s core mission and operational interests in the very project field they are recruiting for. The job description outlined in the vacancy advert will provide useful clues.
If they are a non-governmental water, sanitation and hygiene provider, you should not waste time studying materials on protection for victims of child and sexual abuse. If they are a human rights organization, you should not go reading about saving the ozone layer.
5) Performing Greatly at The Oral Interview
This stage of the selection process comes after the first recruitment test.
Only candidates who performed impressively at the first test are invited for the oral interview. So, other promising candidates who equally performed well during the test will be invited alongside you.
Endeavor to answer the interview questions rightly. These questions can take different turns and twists, but the aim is to extract more evidence to support any decision to hire you.
Now, the secret most people do not know is this at the time of the oral interview, you are not just having an ordinary conversation with the interview team.
You are being watched, as well as being listened to.
Your soft skills, communication competence, confidence, passion. All of these are being assessed during the interview.
Cultural intelligence is an exceptional skill you must make sure to demonstrate, if the NGO placement is in a location different from your place of origin, and the people there have a totally different way of life from yours.
You should be aware of how your composure influences an impression about you.
To find out how best to compose yourself during an interview, click here.
6) Waiting For The Outcome
There are things you must not do after an interview, like calling the hiring manager on phone to solicit his or her special favours.
After the oral interview, go back to your normal business. If you were working at a job, go back to it, and continue giving your best, while you wait for that call or email informing you of your success at the interview.
Do not be over anxious about the outcome being in your favour.
If you don’t make the selection with this last interview, you could still leverage the experiences you had. The lessons learnt will help to better your performance at subsequent opportunities.
While you wait, make sure to think of other ways of improving yourself. This will help you keep a high paying job when you finally get it.
7) Continuing The Search
When you get news that the committee has made their selection in favour of another candidate, what will you do?
Will you get angry at yourself for wasting all that time? Or, will you swear to never try again?
Will you go right after the next opportunity that you find on the internet?
That, up here, is what you should do. Giving up should not be an option.
There are tens and hundreds more of similar opportunities on the web. Continue searching, and when you find them, apply with unwaivering optimism that events could turn in your favour.
OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON GETTING AN NGO JOB
Are NGO Jobs Really Hard to Get?
As far as facts go, competition always exist wherever the prospects of an opportunity are great, and there are even more contenders interested in that same opportunity.
Therefore, it makes sense to assume that whenever there is a limited slot for a job at an NGO, not everybody who applies will make the selection.
Only the best candidates who make it at the final screening lap will get their legs in the door.
The difference between the best candidate and the other candidates, is oftentimes, how much they know and did better that the other candidates.
Fortunately, I have addressed all of these in the first part of this blog post.
Should You Be Worried About Not Making an NGO’s Selection List?
Well, at first you may fail to understand how this is really not personal.
Some people who do not make it as the selected candidates for an advertised high paying NGO job begin to feel bad for themselves or against the organization for not employing them.
This is such a short-sighted way of looking at events of this nature.
So, should you worry? My answer is NO!
Worry traps you in that state of lowness, and restricts you from engaging your creativity towards taking further actions in the direction of progress.
On the contrary, instead of worrying, you should engage yourself with evaluating what happened during the course of the applying for the job.
In other word, try to discover things you may have done wrongly, and what you should improve on, in order to take a better shot the next time a similar opportunity comes.
Meanwhile, it may interest you to know that if you have demonstrated great talent during the selection, most NGOs will keep an eye on you, and will subsequently figure a way to still bring you on board.
This is not always the case, but it happens!
So, How Do NGOs Select Who to Employ?
Every reputable NGO that has been around for a while, has a protocol for operations.
This includes a protocol for recruitment and human resource management.
It is this recruitment protocol that guides the selection process for who gets the job and who does not.
This is why I said earlier, that you don’t have to take it personally against the organization or the hiring manager for failing to employ you.
Strict compliance often follows management processes and decisions that are clearly defined by protocol.
Who is the Decision Maker at any NGO Job Recruitment Exercise?
These days, it is possible to find organizations that outsource their recruitment needs to independent recruiting agencies who have the infrastructure to identify, attract and acquire the best candidates for a high profile position the NGO is be seeking to fill.
However, this is not regular practice with most non-governmental organizations.
A lot of reputable organizations prefer to handle their own recruitment exercises through the Human Resource Manager at the project level, or Coordination/Country Headquarters, or even the International Headquarters.
Who makes the decision to accept one candidate over the other candidates, depends on the sensitivity or importance of the job position.
A project-level human resource manager will not be able to make final decisions in recruiting a new regional outreach manager. The final decision is most likely to come from his superiors in the Country Head quarter.
On the other hand, the decision to employ an office assistant, may easily be left for the hiring human resource person at the project level.
Can You Bribe Your Way Into a High Paying NGO Job?
While corrupt practices have been reported in almost every industry, the likelihood that you will succeed at getting a significant job at an NGO by offering a bribe is low.
The penalty is bound to be very humiliating if you are discovered.
Very reputable non-governmental organizations will state in their published adverts, that you should not give monetary favours or otherwise, to anybody because they promised to help you get a job there.
Other organizations will make it clear that once they find out about such transactions, they will blacklist you from ever getting a job with the organization, while the insider who accepted your gift loses his or her job.
It is clear once more, that to get a high paying job with any reputable NGO, you will have to earn it.
I do not want to mix things up by vouching for just any organization that falls under the category of NGO.
The keyword here is ‘reputable NGO’.
Most NGOs Would Never Compromise In Their Selection Criteria. Why?
No organization wants to employ someone who walks one step forward with the team, but then turns around to drag the team two steps backward.
This is what having the wrong person on any team can result in. Hence, the need to properly assess anybody who is being called in as a new part of the team.
Human resource managers do not like to take blames from their superiors for bringing the wrong person into their team of staff and volunteers. For this reason, they are very careful to do the right thing.
Also, no competent HR person will toy with the idea of creating problems for themselves.
Of course, if there is a better candidate for a job, and the human resource person goes with a less suitable candidate, this may imply that in future, they could be dealing with issues related to how the incompetence of that individual has affected team or organizational productivity negatively.
Another reason reputable NGOs will not give their jobs to just anybody that shows up at an interview is because, most importantly, they are committed to justifying the funds they have received to run the projects they operate.
In fact, these organizations will always chose to work with the best team to achieve whatever goals that inspired their donors to commit resources to them.
Getting a high paying job with a non-governmental organization will certainly require some committed work on your part. Following the guidelines I have outlined in this post, will make the process even easier. Sooner, perhaps, you will be able to secure that NGO job of your dreams.
Lastly, If you have special needs regarding applying for any NGO job, feel free to seek help from a professional.