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If you want a marketing job at a not-for-profit, make sure you do these seven things

There was a time when not-for-profit organisations didn’t have much use for marketing – that was for business. Well, that time is well and truly gone.

In an age of rising social media use and declining government funding, every NFP needs really good marketers – to create a high-profile brand, to help raise funds by connecting with donors and members, to raise the profile of advocacy campaigns, and even to reach out to job-seekers and potential volunteers.

Want to break into a marketing job at an amazing NFP? US-based marketing strategist and author Dorie Clark has these seven tips to help you stand out:

1. Perfect your cover letter

Don’t make the mistake of tacking a generic cover letter onto your awesome CV – a well-written, thoughtful cover letter that demonstrates a real interest in the organisation is key.

Did the organisation recently win an award, hold an event or celebrate a milestone? Show that you’re abreast of relevant news by mentioning it in your cover letter, while being sure to highlight your passion for the work they do.

According to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s (ASRC) Marketing and Brand Manager Iva Tay, a cover letter that shows your passion is “imperative” for making a first impression. In an organisation that runs on “the steam and passion of our staff and volunteers”, failing to convey your own passion will mean you’ll struggle to stand out.

2. Don’t neglect LinkedIn

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: a well-crafted LinkedIn profile is a must-have for all job-seekers. And that goes beyond just copy-and-pasting your CV – you need to leverage the platform as a place to actively build your network.

Notice that a former colleague is connected to the marketing manager (or anyone else) at a not-for-profit you’d love to work at? Politely ask for an introduction – or, depending on how well your contact knows them, ask them to put in a good word for you. Particularly at a small organisation, an existing connection to the team can make a world of difference.

3. Be curious and well-informed

Dorie Clark claims that standing out among those vying for marketing jobs is so easy it’s “almost sad”. Why? Because many candidates are unprepared, unprofessional and uninformed.

While that might be bad news for recruiters and hiring managers, it can be the thing that sets your application apart if you’re across the news and trends relevant to marketing, the not-for-profit sector in general, and the organisations you’re interested in joining.

And according to the ASRC’s Iva Tay, curiosity is one of the most important qualities someone hoping to land a marketing job in a not-for-profit can display.

Social media and the digital marketing landscape is always moving, and curiosity is the trigger that allows you to build on your knowledge and grow professionally,” she says.

4. Know your interviewer

If possible, find out in advance who’ll be interviewing you. And if you’re not sure? Just ask your contact at the organisation.

Armed with that knowledge, do a little online research with a particular focus on – you guessed it – LinkedIn.

Establishing commonalities between you and your interviewers by having a strong handle on their backgrounds means you’ll be better placed to establish great rapport – and that’ll set you off on the front foot.

For example, your online sleuthing might reveal that one of your interviewers went to the same university as you, or previously held a job at an innovative not-for-profit you might want to probe them about.

5. Have a good writing sample

This should come as no surprise – marketing jobs are usually writing-intensive, which is why so many of them are filled by people with qualifications and experience in English, journalism and professional writing.

Think you’ve got the goods? You need to show your interviewers just how your original and creative you can be – with examples. If you have examples of previous marketing collateral you’ve created, include a link or attach them to your application. If not, create some mock-ups – write a blog post for the organisation’s website or create collateral for a (real or imaginary) marketing campaign.

The ASRC’s Iva Tay agrees, saying that highlighting your storytelling abilities is critical to succeeding in a marketing interview in her organisation.

“The ability to deliver clever content across multiple online platforms is increasingly part of the marketer’s daily ritual,” she says.

“So giving potential employers the opportunity to see your skills in action is critical to getting you over the line and ahead of other candidates.”

6. Say thanks

It’s universal: a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way. Though the days of sending a physical note or letter of thanks are mostly over, a thank you email after an interview is a nice touch that can help tip the scales in your favour.

In your email, try to make reference to something you discussed in your interview to show you were really paying attention and help build that all-important rapport.

7. Provide value

It can take weeks for an organisation to complete the interview process and make a final hiring decision. So if you find the recruitment process dragging on, don’t just wait around – remind your interviewer that you’re there by providing something really interesting or valuable.

Spotted an interesting article that harks back to what you discussed in the interview? Pass it along to your interviewer/s with a comment about how you think it would be of interest to them, while reinforcing how much you enjoyed the conversation.

The key is to make yourself visible and emphasise how interested you are in joining the team – while taking care not to make an annoyance of yourself!

Marketing professionals wear many hats – architect, relationship-builder, creative writer, designer, coordinator, editor and countless more. Show your interviewers versatility and the ability to comfortably don those various hats, and you’ll find yourself closer to landing the NFP marketing job of your dreams.

Do you have any tips for getting into marketing work at a not-for-profit? Share them in the comments below!

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