ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 9:17am
posted by
Martha Miner,
Manager of Human Resources
Greater Phoenix
Economic Council

Finding gainful employment in the nonprofit arena is different than landing a job in other industries. At nonprofit interviews, your employer needs to distinguish your job credentials beyond a simple skill set – they need to recognize both your professional potential and your passion for the cause.

If you’re a nonprofit job candidate considering a career change or an NPO major who’s apprehensive of graduating, take these three steps toward landing a job you’ll love.

Laura Gassner Otting, author of Change Your Career – Transitioning to the Non-Profit Sector, nonprofit leaders manage “up, down, and sideways.” Staff must have the ability to juggle the accessibility and needs of donors, partners, coworkers, community members and volunteers – all while delegating responsibility, commanding authority, and exhibiting empathy.

Cultivate and articulate your tech skills

In this down economy, most nonprofits are pinching every penny possible to stay afloat. Almost all nonprofit workers wear many hats in their all-inclusive positions, because downtime just isn’t in the budget anymore. And sure, a new mobile app would be absolutely amazing, but many nonprofits simply cannot afford it. So if you are a job candidate who’s also a tech guru, welcome to the front lines of ideal candidacy. In the months before the interview, try your hand at Final Cut Pro or figure out the backend of Drupal and WordPress – you won’t believe how quickly it will pay off.


Are you looking for a career in the Arizona nonprofit sector?
Visit the ASU Lodestar Center Job Board for open nonprofit job positions.


Most importantly, be true to your goals and ethics throughout the job search. Dedicate your time and efforts to the issues you truly care about, because genuine personal interest is the most valuable quality a nonprofit worker can have. As Gassner Otting writes:

Working for a non-profit is like starting a marathon. You have to be committed long-term, even when the finish line is out of sight. The need of those served can be seemingly endless, and you will have to do more for them with less, while still satisfying your many, varied constituents. A track record of dedication to the cause or constituency demonstrates an authentic commitment, and this commitment shows your future nonprofit employer that you will take their marathon seriously. 

Good luck with your search!

As GPEC's manager of Human Resources, Miner works as a strategic partner in maintaining employee relationships. She is responsible for recruiting, hiring, orientation and training, maintenance of employee documentation, employee development, benefit and payroll processing, and oversight of employee enrichment programs. Miner grew up in Las Cruces, N.M., where she studied education and psychology at New Mexico State University. She has resided in Arizona since 1995 and has raised three children with her husband Tom.

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Read Maureen Baker's "The intangible rewards of nonprofit work."


Good afternoon! Great post, thank you. I do have a question for you (or anyone else who would like to discuss). One thing I notice is that many NPs do not post salary ranges in their job descriptions, making it difficult for one to determine whether or not to apply for the job. The unfortunate reality is that we all have expenses and it may be difficult to take a major cut in salary. How can one get a general sense of what the pay scale is for certain types of jobs? It would be unfortunate if the two parties went through the whole entire recruitment process only to discover when an offer is made that the salary is so prohibitive that it would be impossible to take the job. :(

I think what a lot of people don't realize these days (at least from my own personal experience) is that many nonprofits are offering competitive wages for their paid employees, because they now realize that this is necessary in order to hire and retain the best people for their positions.

While you are right, on the ASU Lodestar Center Job Board there are not many specified salary ranges, but that does not mean that you don't have the right to ask about compensation while you are going through the recruitment process.

I would agree with Colleen that NPO's will at least try to be competitive in their market in order to attract good candidates to their organization. I would recommend doing your research for the type of position you are interested in so you at least know what the salary range can be. Non-profits are required to make certain financial information public which includes the salaries of directors, officers and key employees. And don’t be afraid to ask, most organizations will at least give you a salary range for the posted position.

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