How Networking Can Get You Hired

by Libby Boyles
As someone who was recently on the job hunt after moving to Oklahoma City, I know how hard it can be out there! I had many years of experience in the nonprofit field I was searching in, but had a very difficult time finding openings and getting interviews.
I sought out professional help with my resume and used all the tips I could find for getting hired.  It wasn’t until almost two years after my job search began that I received an offer with a wonderful nonprofit that I am very excited to be working with. So what was the answer? It all boiled down to networking.
Nonprofit hiring practices differ from the public sector in many ways, as outlined at  One of those ways is that nonprofit hiring managers often look internally, at their volunteer pool, or at other nonprofits when filling positions. I asked one manager why this was, and she said that due to a limited budget nonprofits sometimes cannot get additional positions approved until current employees are already overloaded. This means new employees must be able to hit the ground running. It is also believed that someone in the network of a current employee or a volunteer of the organization will be more likely to buy in to the organization’s mission and core value system.
Nonprofits also may not have the budget to post openings on large (expensive) job posting sites, which make finding open positions harder for job seekers. said “Networking is the main way that nonprofit organizations hire. In a 2003 survey of nonprofit staffing professionals, it was found that, when hiring recent graduates, 66 percent of organizations find out about candidates through networking.
So what can you do to grow your nonprofit network?
Volunteer with an organization in the field that you want to work in. Most nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers and have many opportunities for you to get involved. You can start this process while you are in school or while you are employed in another field. Even committing to volunteer once a month or seasonally can help you learn more about the sector and get your name out there.
Attend networking events (we have some great ones here!) and follow up with people you meet. Share your contact information and check in regularly with your expanding network. Talk about where you would like to see your career going and listen for advice from others’ experiences.
Participate with a professional association or join a board. You have skills that nonprofit boards or committees and professional associations can use! Figure out what skills you possess and sell them.
This all takes time, so get started as soon as possible and continue to nurture your network as you go.  You never know who will introduce you to your dream job in the nonprofit sector.