How to get a graduate job in the third sector

Yesterday The Guardian ran a Q&A panel session on how to get a graduate job in the third sector.  I was having a read of some of the responses from the panel to the questions posted and there were some really useful snippets of information and advice that I thought I’d share on the blog for those of you who are interested in a career in the third sector.

Finding graduate jobs

There are a number of big charities that run graduate schemes in the sector including Frontline, Charityworks, Good Futures, Cancer Research and NGDP.  Beyond that the sector is made up of thousands of smaller organisations which will be harder to find and will require more in depth research to find the organisations and roles available. One of the panelists also pointed out that traditional graduate roles are not prevalent in the sector and some organisations might not distinguish between graduate roles, entry level roles and more senior roles so it’s important to look carefully at the selection criteria and possibly contact the organisation for more information and clarification if necessary.

The value of postgraduate qualifications

Within the sector there is a huge range of postgraduate qualifications available and a few people asked the panel about the value of these.  Of course there was no simple answer to this as it very much depends on the employer and job role that you’re going for.  The panelists did mention that a masters can be useful but it does need to be backed up with relevant experience and if you’re looking at a masters it can be useful to consider what you want to specialise in (for example gender, education, migration) and perhaps look for a masters in that specialism.  The panelists did also highlight the importance of checking job descriptions and person specifications to check what sort of qualifications and experience employers are looking for.

Getting experience

Given that it’s a competitive sector to get into the panelists highlighted the importance of getting relevant experience.  One of the panelists mentioned that becoming a charity trustee can be useful and mentioned Nowgivesomethingback as a resource for students who might be interested in this. The other useful piece of advice for people hoping to get into the sector was to consider applying for less competitive roles such as admin and HR to get a ‘foot in the door’ with an organisation and then seeing if it’s possible to move across into other roles later on.

Where to find out more

You can see the full Q&A on The Guardian website and if you’re interested in exploring this sector in more detail you can take a look at the occupational pages of our website where you’ll find lots of resources to get your research started and sources of vacancies in the sector.


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