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Cooking up a hot resume: Quality ingredients and an AI taste test

Published on: Mar 1, 2024

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(Image: Nomad Soul Photography)

A career in the nonprofit sector isn’t just about passion for making a difference: It’s a pursuit that requires skill, dedication, flexibility, and results. When applying for a nonprofit position, your resume must reflect those twin pursuits. That means crafting a resume strategically to highlight the specific skills, experiences, and interests that make you a uniquely impactful candidate.

But how?

First, focus on the content. Here’s four ingredients that will maximize your appeal to a nonprofit hiring manager.

  • Passion and purpose. Express your passion for the organization’s mission loud and clear. Take a look at the employer’s website, note the values they put into their brand (they may even list them explicitly), and make an effort to mirror them in both your language and the examples of impact you cite. 
  • Transferable skills. Highlight broadly-applicable skills like communication, leadership, problem-solving, and flexibility. Demonstrate how these skills have helped you achieve goals in previous roles or volunteer experiences, especially in times of change or urgent need.
  • Quantifiable impact. Numbers speak volumes. Whether it's funds raised, volunteer hours coordinated, number of lives impacted, online impressions made, or resources saved, putting numbers to your contributions adds credibility and showcases your tangible impact in previous roles.
  • Tailor-made language. Each time you apply for a job, customize your resume to mirror the specific needs of the job description. Use keywords from the job posting to ensure your resume passes through any applicant tracking systems that may be used and catches the eye of the hiring manager.

Second, format your resume for maximum understanding. Ensure clarity by baking these stylistic points into your resume each time you revise it.

  • A clear and concise layout. Keep your resume well-organized, with clear headings and bullet points. Use a clean, easy-to-read font and maintain consistency in formatting throughout the document.
  • Relevant sections. Organize your resume helpfully, including sections for a "Summary of Qualifications," "Experience," "Skills," and "Volunteer Work." Tailor these sections to emphasize experiences most relevant to the role you’re applying for.
  • Impactful language. Use action verbs, descriptive phrases, and numbers (where possible) to showcase your accomplishments. For example, instead of saying "Responsible for fundraising," try "Implemented a fundraising campaign resulting in a 30% increase in donations."

Finally, get feedback from a trusted source. Getting a friend to review your resume is always smart – especially if they have nonprofit experience – but you can't always find someone to do you the favor when you need it done. 

The good news: You can now get effective and instantaneous feedback using an AI chatbot. Not only are there plenty of free options available – like ChatGPT, Bing, and Bard – but they are always hungry for an assignment. 

If you’ve never used an AI chatbot before, they are incredibly intuitive. Just write instructions and ask questions in plain language, being as detailed as you like. Here are some of the ways you can use an AI chatbot to evaluate your resume.

  • Ask for an objective assessment. Paste your resume into the platform, instructing it to review it with the perspective of a seasoned nonprofit hiring manager. You can ask for general strengths and weaknesses, or get specific about structure, language, overall presentation, and areas that need more detail.
  • Request suggestions for language improvements. Ask for suggestions on improving clarity, strengthening action verbs, adding impactful phrases, or replacing repetitive terms.
  • Get help customizing your resume. Paste the full job description into the platform – or any other details about the organization – and a chatbot can suggest ways to better align your experiences with the employer’s needs and values.
  • Start a feedback loop. Try making adjustments based on the suggestions you’ve received, then submit the revised resume for further feedback. This process can help refine your resume to its fullest potential.

AI is a powerful tool, but it's not a replacement for human judgment and understanding. Combine the insights you receive from AI with your own knowledge and experience in the nonprofit sector. Use AI to enhance your resume's impact without losing your unique voice and story.

Marc Schultz is communications editor at Work for Good.

Feeling informed, inspired, and empowered? Now's the perfect time to search for your next job! Or set up a job alert, and bring the search to you.