By Dennis Sawyers, SPHR
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 9.1 million Americans who are currently unemployed — and 2.8 million of whom have been unemployed for longer than six months. For those who are looking for jobs, gaps in the resumé can ward off employers or damage jobseeker spirits, making the job hunt an even bigger struggle. However, many formerly unemployed people are finding work in the nonprofit sector, and we feel this trend is one that should continue.
If you are currently unemployed, here are five things you can do position yourself for a nonprofit job during an interview:
Focus on what you have done.
Don’t let your long-term unemployment status define you. Focus on the skills and experience you have to offer that, despite an extended break from the workforce, are still relevant. Don’t dwell on your time off, but rather have confidence in your ability to make a difference in the position you’re applying for.
Come with references.
Come to your interview prepared with a list of solid references. Character speaks volumes. References will testify to your work ethic, people skills and strengths in the workplace.
Show how you’re aligned with the mission.
A nonprofit organization is defined by its mission. Research the organization’s mission and goals prior to your interview so you can clearly communicate how they align with your values and career path. If you can demonstrate your passion about their cause, you will set yourself apart as an engaged and enthusiastic candidate.
Share your story.
In your interview, you may be asked to explain the gap in your resumé, so prepare to share your story of why you left your last job and why it’s taken you some time to find your next. Approach this as an opportunity to explain your struggles, triumphs and take-aways from your experiences during your period of unemployment. It’s important to paint that time in a positive light while still maintaining honesty and integrity.
Turn your struggles into an advantage.
Dealing with long-term unemployment is tough, but the experience may actually make you more qualified for a new job. Market your struggles as an asset by showing how they have grown your character in certain areas.
If you’re a jobseeker who has been unemployed for several months, don’t overlook the nonprofit sector, and if you’re a nonprofit leader, don’t overlook that person who is unemployed. You may just be a perfect fit for one another.
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