Three skills you’ll need to land a not-for-profit job in the future

Posted on May 21, 2015 02:32 PM |

Three skills you’ll need to land a not-for-profit job in the future

Not-for-profits are changing, so what will an ethical job look like in the future? flickr.com/buckaroobay

Did you grow up thinking that the future would be full of flying cars, hover-boards or people with jet-packs?

If so, you’re probably disappointed by the reality of 2015 – but it’s a good lesson in how hard it is to accurately predict the future.

But that won’t stop us trying! So what will the ethical jobs of the future look like? And what skills will you need to do them?

US website, Fast Company, recently spoke to the leaders of some of the most innovative not-for-profits in the United States and asked them what skills not-for-profit workers are likely to need in the future.

Here’s what they said:

1. A brain for understanding data – and using it to tell stories

With funding becoming more and more competitive, successful not-for-profits are increasingly the ones that can best prove the impact that their work has.

Therefore, staff who are able to understand increasingly complex data – including from sources such as social media – will be invaluable to the communications, fundraising and management teams of all organisations.

But, understanding that data isn’t the only skill you’ll need. You’ll also have to be able to translate that data into meaningful stories that can convince people – be they donors, clients or the government – that an organisation is worthy of their time and money.

As Thomas Tighe, CEO of international development agency Direct Relief, told Fast Company:

“If anyone is a behavioural economist that can do infographics and engaging 15-second, socially shareable videos after having analysed enormous amounts of disaggregated data and also translate the findings into coherent, low-cost activities that demonstrate results – you are desperately needed today and will be worshipped!”

2. Designers who know how to work well with people

Design, in the context of the not-for-profit sector, is a very broad skill. Good design will become increasingly essential for designing both online and real-world systems or services to meet client needs, the layout of physical spaces for staff or clients, or applications for behaviour-change, education or information provision.

But whatever your design passion, if you want to apply it in the not-for-profit sector you’ll need to know how to work with a diverse group of stakeholders, in complex environments.

Not-for-profits are moving away from being siloed, single-focus organisations, where staff, clients and a government funding body work to solve a niche problem.

NFPs now and in the future will increasingly work together across multiple, complex services, often with much more complex and diverse funding sources than in the past, in order to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

3. The ability to work within a diverse team

As not-for-profits become more desirable places to work, the diversity of staff will also increase.

While many not-for-profits are already known for being more diverse than their corporate counterparts, diversity in the sector will continue to grow. Younger people, older people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and increasingly people from the corporate backgrounds will need to learn how to combine their skills and experience to work towards a common goal.

What will organisations be doing to attract you?

The NFP leaders interviewed by Fast Company also offer some great insights into what organisations should be offering to their future workforces.

So, as a job-seeker you can expect to see more of the following:

  • A greater emphasis on an organisation’s mission, and integration of this mission into recruitment. For example, it will be crucial to understand not just the cause or issue the organisation is working on, but what makes the organisation unique, and how it is working to maximise its impact; and
  • Even more flexible work. Specifically, a focus on being responsive to the needs of staff so that they can achieve their utmost. As Anna Maria Chavez from Girl Scouts USA says, “Where you work will not be as important as your ability to deliver with excellence. Incorporating practices that support this environment will give nonprofits a clear, competitive edge."

Do you think you have the skills that are needed to thrive in a future not-for-profit job? What other skills do you think will be necessary? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

This post was based on an article that originally appeared on Fast Company.

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