How to Write Your First CV to Get a Job in the Charity Sector

Working in the charity sector is an exciting, rewarding career choice. However, when you’re writing your first job application, or getting a summer internship in the sector it can be hard to know what the employer is looking for in a great CV from you beyond the usual CV templates you can find on google. Here are my top 3tips as someone young an new to the sector myself.

Ab Brightman
3 min readMay 2, 2018
With the young team of my first full-time job with a charity, Student Hubs

1. Shout about your volunteering

So many young people have given their time as volunteers — either at university or as part of your community. Employers in the sector really want to hear about every time you’ve taken the initiative to do something good, as well as general paid work you’ve had. You get bonus points if you’ve been volunteering consistently for over a year, and can highlight the key skills you learnt in each role, rather than just why you were passionate about helping. If you don’t have any of those examples it is worth checking with yourself whether the charity sector is really the career path you want, and if so then you should be able to find some high-quality volunteering opportunities near you with a little searching.

2. Talk about your own role in the jobs/experiences you put down — less ‘we’ , and more ‘I’

Whilst it’s great to hear that you were part of a team running a project or had a job where you helped to organise an event, what charity employers are really interested in hearing about is what your specific role in those teams was, and what you did to help the job or project function. If you don’t specify exactly what you did then an employer reading your CV may well think you took no initiative and just went along with the group. If you took a key role in the team then that’s awesome, and you should feel proud to put it down! If you haven’t yet played a leading role, then you can ask the organisation that you volunteer with how you can take on more responsibility with them — most will jump at the chance to involve you more with perhaps their marketing, events or admin, even if they don’t officially list those opportunities on their website.

3. Don’t be ashamed if your CV’s only a page long

Some people can feel like they’re expected to have a CV that’s already two pages long. Whilst this may be true for people a year or more into their career, if you’re still quite near the age you were when you left school, it’s not always possible! So don’t try to fill the space of two pages with what’s not relevant to you now — such as small things you did in 2014, your non-professional hobbies and interests (unless it’s volunteering!) —as no-one working for a charity wants to spend time being bored by your CV (often there’s a lot to read through in not much time). So do whoever’s reading your application a favour and don’t worry if what’s relevant comes to one page rather than two.

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Happy job/internship hunting, and don’t forget to let me know how you get on in the comments.

Already work or volunteer for a charity? Find out how I can help you reach new heights here!