Help Me Start Paying My Dues!
August 10, 2010 11:32 AM   Subscribe

ResumeFilter: What do social justice/community organizing groups look for? How do I find the good ones?

I finished my undergrad this past May. Yay! Now I need to figure out what to do with myself-- kind of yay!

I graduated with a degree in Anthropology. My academic focus was on social movements and social change. I did fieldwork with the Tea Party in my area last year, which was fascinating and cool despite the fact that I did not always agree with their politics. Now I need to find a job which will make me happier than the Endless Retail Hell in which I am now engaged.

My eventual goal is to provide people with spaces and resources to form strong social networks that they can use to empower themselves. I realize this requires a number of skills-- Endless Retail Hell has taught me a lot.

I want to start acquiring skills and connections in the community of people who have similar goals to mine-- community organizing, community center administration and the like. To this end, I have decided to start applying around the country to such organizations.


1) My "resume book" says to tailor the format and emphases of my resume to the employer. What, generally, makes a resume attractive to HR people in social justice orgs?





2) MeFites seem a "socially responsible" crowd, so I thought I'd offer bonus points for suggestions on good organizations I could look into/ apply to!
posted by Truthiness to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would strongly consider narrowing your search to one area and staying/moving there. In my (limited) experience, with this economy employers have no reason to hire someone who will have to relocate unless she or he has some really special or unique skill. For example, when I was living abroad and applying to jobs in the US, sending in applications really regardless of location, I had zero success. Now that I've chosen a place to live and moved there, I get many bites (and a few job offers). Being ensconced somewhere also helps you find the more hidden jobs that aren't posted on sites like Idealist (which are invariably seen by thousands upon thousands of other people). So my advice is: find a metro area that excites you, and move there-- or make a commitment to where you already live--, do Retail Hell while jobsearching (unless you can afford to be jobless for an indeterminate amount of time), and profit.

Just some ideas from someone with a similar story but an extra year or two logged.
posted by threeants at 11:42 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I work at a small public interest organization in DC. I came there after a number of years in the workforce, so I don't have any personal experience, but from my observation of entry-level staff there and at similar groups we work with, they get hired based on 1. some demonstration of commitment to liberal causes; 2. general work experience; and 2. personality (not necessarily in that order.)

To unpack it a little: since you're just out of college, nobody expects that you have a ton of experience in human resources. But they do want to know that you can show up on time, get along with co-workers and handle progressive (no pun intended) levels of responsibility. They also want evidence that you agree with their agenda, since you won't be a very motivated employee if you don't.

Finally, personality makes a difference. Public interest groups tend to be understaffed and occupy close quarters, and you'll likely be working closely with people all day long. They want to know that you'll fit in. This might mean that you're a great fit in one organization but not right for another. Unfortunately, there's no way to know without knowing someone there already.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 12:06 PM on August 10, 2010

I work for a social justice/advocacy organization. I look for a commitment to the specific issue my organization works on. I look for a personal history with some aspect of it, volunteer activities if no work history, or a really strong description of their motivation to work on this issue. I have hired people fairly recently out of college, and it's great to see that they've taken courses on the issue, but I give more weight to some sort of work or volunteer activity. I am not going to hire someone who has to move here for an entry-level job. Do use Idealist--that's where I've posted and hired from for all the jobs I've filled.

Social change means very different things to different people. It may be helpful to narrow down what kind of social change you're interested in working on.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:19 PM on August 10, 2010

It might be worth looking into some long-term volunteer opportunities to make connections within the non-profit sector, as well as gain experience doing work (on the ground and in the office) that would look good on resumes.

I'm about to start two years through Brethren Volunteer Service, but there are tons more organizations out there that have 1-2 year volunteer opportunities that generally include room, board, and a small stipend. If you have more questions about BVS specifically or volunteering in general, feel free to MeMail me.
posted by naturalog at 12:28 PM on August 10, 2010

#1 best way to do this: volunteer in the area or for the organization with which you want to be employed. Most of these progressive activist groups and non-profits are horribly understaffed and underfunded. As a recent grad with a thin resume, your best bet will be to show up early, show your committment and prove yourself indispensable to the organization as an intern/volunteer. Chances are that you will be picked up internally or recommend to another group before you know it. That's how I got my start in the field. Good luck and feel free to msg me if you have any questions.
posted by willie11 at 5:49 PM on January 14, 2011

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