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Write Your Resume To Your Target Audience

Last week I had the priviledge to volunteer at the Opportunity Knocks career forum as a career coaching advisor and resume reviewer.

Opportunity Knocks (www.opportunityknocks.org) is a national online job site, HR resource and career development destination focused exclusively on the nonprofit community. They are committed to lead and support efforts that help further nonprofit careers and promote a robust workforce that enables organizations to complete their missions. For Nonprofit professionals, Opportunity Knocks is the premier destination to find nonprofit jobs and access valuable resources for developing successful careers in the nonprofit community.

During my resume reviews I saw a number of extremely talented and well-intentioned professionals who all had hearts to serve and wanted very much to find a successful career in nonprofits.

The one common critique that I had for almost every resume that I saw was that they were written for the business/professions that the individuals were in versus targeting the nonprofit space that they wanted to enter.

This led me to tell everyone that they needed to go back and write their resume with their target audience in mind.

Consider this, a nonprofit group is an organization that has a structure and roles and responsibilities for everyone within the group. They have functional areas like fund-raising, grant writing, marketing communications, community support, etc.

In order for a nonprofit (or any company for that matter) to find a role for you in their organization you have to write your resume in their terms and language and show them where you would fit in their team. Some advice that I gave at the forum was:

  • Highlight your nonprofit experience early in the resume to establish your credentials.
  • Pick a functional nonprofit area that you feel will match your skills and then focus your achievement statements to support how you can add value.
  • Write your summary statement in a way to show how you want to leverage your outside for-profit experience in the nonprofit space.

I met a lot of great people last week and sincerely hope that they can find successful nonprofit careers. The first step is for them to target their resume in such a way so that the nonprofit can see the value that they can bring to their organization.