Everybody wants to make something good out of their lives. Merely a job is often not good enough, we want a purpose in life that would help us feel useful and appreciated for all the good that we would be doing within our dream job. The most common and obvious way to achieve that is to apply for a job at an NGO where our productiveness would be valued not directly by the amount of financial profit that we bring to the company or the amount of trust and authority that we bring to the company’s name, but by the amount of good that we do for the world that we live in.
However, when we are freshly out of school, we often still have our pink glasses on, and we tend to think that our potential employer should be interested in us as a candidate merely for our wonderful personal traits as a big heart and zeal to help people. Fortunately or not, this is often not the case. Indeed, many NGOs are understaffed, but that doesn’t mean that the will accept just anyone. Let’s see how one can impress a future employer and get that dream job at an NGO.
1. Know what you want
As mentioned before, a general will to make the world better is often not enough to secure a job. The best way to illustrate and prove your determination to get this job is to be as specific as you can. Ask yourself – which aspect of life needs changes most immediately, which cause I find the most important. Ultimately, it should be the cause that you can relate to.
For example, if you love animals, you will probably perform best at an NGO devoted to animal rights. If you are a straight person and don’t know anyone from the LGBT, you probably should not apply to an organization focused on LGBT rights, since you will not find the problems that they have to deal with relatable.
Putting it briefly, knowing what kind of job you want to get involved in is crucial for getting this kind of job. So, be picky about the organization(s) that you apply to and the causes that they promote.
2. Reveal your personality
It is not entirely correct to generalize working at an NGO as a common field of expertise. Every NGO has very particular specifications, depending on their cause, their focal points, and their target regions(s). This dictates quite specific sets of skills that their potential employee needs to possess in order to perform the job to the fullest.
In a perfect case scenario, you would possess all the necessary skills, but this is an ideal situation which seldom happens. So, what you need to do is to underline those qualities and traits of yours that you deem most important for the job.
For example, let’s take a look at language skills. When you apply to an NGO, it is always a plus to know more languages that just English and Spanish. They may require a candidate with knowledge of, say, Arabic, or some even more exotic language that is probably not taught at schools in your area at all. Finding a carrier of an exotic language is a tough job for an NGO so you can focus on what a fast learner you are and illustrate it with examples from your personal, school, or professional experience.
Say, at some point in life you were dared to watch the entire Japanese Gojira (Godzilla) film series – all 29 titles – subtitled, not dubbed. Here you can mention that with every film you have noticed yourself looking at subtitles more and more seldom, and closer to the end of the series, you found yourself realizing what’s going on without looking at subtitles at all.
3. Be understanding
Work at an NGO often involves traveling or even living in a foreign culture. Foreign does not necessarily mean that they speak a different language. It may include all kinds of customs that you may find challenging.
The most commonly known illustration is the attitude toward cows in India. If you love beef steak so much that you are not ready to give up on your eating habits, then you should not go to India. This is probably the most innocent example. Some details of a foreign culture may seem much more emotionally challenging, or even downright shocking to us.
Naturally, nobody can demand that you adopt all details of a foreign culture as your own, should you be exposed to them. However, if they pose no threat to your life, health, and well-being, or to the cause of your NGO, you will be expected to be able to treat those details with understanding to avoid any unnecessary conflict.
Such understanding will definitely be a quality that you will be expected to possess, and you must be ready to actively reveal that in your job interview