How to Tune Your Resume for Nonprofit Opportunities

You have an excellent resume. Your senior-level, for-profit business experience is outstanding. But will it count in the much different world of nonprofits?

Bridgestar, which specializes in matching private sector talent with social sector opportunities, can help you recast your resume for your encore career. Their Web site includes real resumes from other executives who have made the switch.

Bridgestar's advice:

Emphasize your transferable skills and nonprofit experience. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I articulated my experience clearly and emphasized the transferability of my skills from the for-profit sector to the nonprofit sector?
  • Have I described fully and prominently all of my experience in the nonprofit sector, including any I may have gained as a volunteer, board member or committee member?
  • Have I included descriptions of the companies I have worked for if their names might be unfamiliar to someone outside my field?
  • Have I removed jargon that may only be understandable or relevant to someone in my previous field?

Be driven by mission and results. Recast your resume by:

  • Including an objective at the top to help nonprofit hiring managers quickly assess you for opportunities in a specific functional area
  • Using a consistent format for both your professional and volunteer histories, helping the reader look at your experience holistically across sectors
  • Using a “results” bullet in each job description to call attention to and quantify your accomplishments, presenting the picture of a capable, results-oriented person who can be effective in a variety of settings
  • Including a "career profile" at the top of your resume to put your nonprofit experience on a par with your professional history and highlight your skills that are highly transferable across sectors
  • Providing extensive detail on your community experience first, rather than crowding it into a line or two at the bottom of your resume

Bridgestar provides these sample resumes to show how to effectively communicate your talent to a nonprofit hiring manager:

Highlighting nonprofit experience: Jill Cook

Demonstrating results: Diane Jackson

Emphasizing cross-functional for-profit and nonprofit skills: Jack Smith