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  1. “Non-profits claim that finding enough employees with the right skills is more difficult than ever. Results from Nonprofit HR’s 2016 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey reveal it’s the sector’s second largest challenge after the ability to pay competitive wages.”

    Hmm, seems the two might have something to do with each other? The talent is out there, the compensation is not. Maybe the first challenge is compensation and there is no talent challenge?

    Organizations overlook qualified and talented candidates due to education standards. Today’s mentality that you have little to no value because your educational achievements do not include college degrees or the right amount is akin to discrimination. It’s a lose-lose situation.

    • Carolina Wertz on

      John-this is a bit long, but I hope you find it helpful:

      I’ve worked in the nonprofit world for 17 years and I can tell you that, unless there is a sector revolution, there will always be a compensation challenge. And not because the nonprofits don’t recognize the value of their employees or wish to pay them competitive wages, but because there will always be a revenue challenge for the nonprofits, who must relentlessly fundraise year after year. This is heightened by the growing number of nonprofits in the field. Trust me, I’ve been “underpayed” for years, but I’ve also had robust benefits (which nonprofits tend to offer) and the chance to apply and broaden my skills in ways my private sector friends have not because nonprofits are also often understaffed and willing to let employees wear various hats, run with ideas, etc. I am one of the few people I know who feels like I won the lottery on a career because it is has been such a rich and rewarding road, despite the fact that I don’t make as much.

      As for your point about the education standard, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Here’s my advice: Apply to a social justice-oriented nonprofit (not just an advocacy organization, but also consider those that work on helping certain populations overcome challenges/level the playing field-like disabilities, poverty, etc.). Why? Many of these organizations are starting to challenge themselves to “walk their walk” and face the internal ways that they may be perpetuating discrimination and throwing up barriers to others. Ignore their education requirements when you apply, but be explicit in your cover letter that you believe your skills meet their requirements despite this and that your qualifications sans degree would help enrich their work environment by diversifying it. If the population they provide services to tend to earn degrees at a lower rate than your average white or Asian, then politely mention that your lack of degree but solid skill set may represent the experience of those they serve.

  2. Jacqueline Nichol on

    Education does not seem to be enough either. In fact, I am quite certain that employment by nonprofits has one thing in common with other organizations: it’s more about WHO you know. I’ve applied for many jobs with a willingness to accept lower wages, yet, despite my high education and otherwise clear qualifications, I havent had a response, because I have no “connections”. Really disheartening to read articles like these (which gave me SO MUCH hope when I started my NPT job search one year ago.

    • We hear you on the prerequisite to “know” someone at the organization. However, it might help to reframe it so that it feels less like a popularity contest and more like building a relationship. In other words, if your first attempt to connect with someone at the organization is after you’ve submitted your job application, it may be a little too late. However, being proactive and reaching out to key players are organizations where you’d like to work, or having a frank conversation with an employer at an organization where you volunteer, might yield great results. We have published several articles about networking such as 20 Ways to Network that Don’t Feel Like Networking, 3 Ways to Casually Grow Your Network, and Knock-Out Networking. To your success, Victoria

  3. Rita Heckathorn on

    i do not agree to give millennial this approach. this is why, nowadays, older hard working people are not getting jobs. RH

    • Hello Rita, thank you for sharing your thoughts on Idealist Careers. Please note that this article is a guest post that was originally posted on The Economist’s Executive Education Navigator blog. The Editor’s Note (from the Editor of Idealist Careers) clarifies our take on the guest author’s comment about the “Millennial advantage” – it is our belief that it is NOT the age itself that is a strong point but the characteristics of this particular generation that employers are finding appealing. The attributes are not exclusive to Millennials and can be exhibited by anyone. We advocate for job seekers of all ages to embrace this particular skill set that has become attractive to employers, and demonstrate these skills in their job applications and subsequent interviews.

  4. Uhm, not sure I should be happy to read this or not. I am not a millennial, though I have 20 years hard office experience and just finished a Professional Certificate program in Non-Profit Management. But the main gist of this is, they want kids, not grown ups… just like the rest of society, I suppose.

    • Hello Quigon, thank you for taking the time to comment. This article was written by a guest author and includes a note from our Editor. As I mentioned to Rita, we advise job seekers of all ages to embrace the skill set mentioned in the article, rather than focus on the idea that one particular generation has an advantage over another.

  5. Zequek Estrada on

    Kate, I’d say that you’re right that non-profit careers are becoming more appealing. While I was in school, I met quiet a few people who were interested in joining non-profit organizations. There tend to be so many out there, but I think it just takes time to search and find out if it suits you.

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