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NGO’s often have many staff. Larger NGOs can have hundreds of even thousands of personnel. The HR department of an NGO is a vital part of effectively managing these staff. There is a wide range of jobs in the NGO sector for qualified HR professionals. There are also entry-level roles for people who want to begin a career in human resources working for NGOs.
If you would like to work in human resources within an NGO, be sure to read our guide to the most common HR jobs. We’ve also included a section for each role on the experience and qualifications often needed to apply.
The role of Human Resource Manager is the main senior NGO role responsible for HR. The HR Manager has oversight of all HR processes within an NGOs mission. If they are working at HQ level, the HR Manager is likely to oversee a certain department or the NGO’s HR work across a number of country offices.
The job of the HR Manager in an NGO is to ensure effective implementation of HR processes. This includes recruitment, staff management, development of guidelines and tools and coordination with other teams. The HR Manager will oversee the HR team, and often line-manage the Human Resource Officers and Recruiters.
How to Apply
If you want to become a HR Manager within a NGO, we suggest completing a formal qualification in human resources. As a management level role, you will also need some experience working in HR. Previous NGO experience would be an asset, but private and public sector experience can also be beneficial.
In an NGO, the HR Officer is the main mid-level position within the human resources department. They are responsible for the day-to-day running of the NGO’s human resources procedures. This includes drawing up guidelines, assisting with recruitments, onboarding staff and inputting to monthly payroll.
The HR Officer often reports to the HR Manager or HR Coordinator. In smaller NGOs, the HR and Finance teams may be combined into an Administration team. In these cases the HR Officer usually reports to the Admin Coordinator. The HR Officer will line-manage the HR Assistants.
How to Apply
In order to become a HR Officer in an NGO you need between one- and three-years professional experience. Previous experience working in a HR job in an NGO would be advantageous, however relevant private and public sector experience is often also considered. A formal qualification, such as a bachelor or master’s degree, in human resources would also be an asset.
Large NGOs have hundreds, sometimes thousands of staff. Managing the turnover of this number of staff members requires a significant amounts of recruitments. Some NGOs have the dedicated role of Recruiter. This job is responsible for managing the hiring of new staff and ensuring their effective onboarding.
In an NGO, the Recruiter is often managed by the HR Manager. Their role has oversight of the entire recruitment process, from validating job descriptions and advertising roles, to getting contracts for new staff signed and coordinating their inductions.
How to Apply
NGOs look for people with an effective track record of hiring staff when the are employing a Recruiter. Although previous experience within the NGO sector would be an asset, this is definitely a role where private or public sector experience is also highly valuable.
NGO HR Online Courses
If are looking to work in a HR role with an NGO, we highly recommend the online short course Recruiting, Hiring, and Onboarding Employees offered by the University of Minnesota. It covers the key ways organisations can attract, and retain, top talent – a vital aspect of NGO HR management. Follow the link for more information on the course.
Another online short course we think is a must for anyone wanting to work in NGO HR is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Beginner’s Guide. NGOs are made-up of staff from many different countries, cultures, ethnicities, and religions. Learning how to hire, respect and ensure quality teamwork across a diverse team is key for an NGO HR professional. This course would be a great addition to the CV of anyone applying for NGO HR jobs. Follow the link to enrol.
One of the most important HR tasks in an NGO is being able to hire the right staff. Getting qualified, knowledgeable, and experienced staff is vital for an NGO’s success. We recommend the online course Recruiting: Talent Acquisition & Hiring for those wanting to get a HR job in an NGO. It would also look great of any applicants CV. Click the link to be taken to the course’s page.
The NGO sector has become increasing professional over the previous decades. As a result, some aspects of private sector HR are beginning to be used within NGOs. The job of Talent Manager within an NGO is responsible for recruiting senior roles and ensuring the retention of talented staff. They also develop strategies to promote internal mobility within the NGO so that staff can develop skills and rise within their careers.
Only large NGOs will have a Talent Manager within their HR teams. The Talent Manager is often line-managed by the HR Coordinator or director of the Human Resources department.
How to Apply
If you are looking for a job as a Talent Manager within an NGO you will need a proven track record of hiring senior staff and of retaining talented personnel within an organization. Many NGOs will look at private and public sector experience favorably when recruiting for Talent Manager roles.
In some NGOs, usually smaller ones, the Finance and HR teams are combined into a single admin team. This team is managed by the Admin Coordinator. The job of the Admin Coordinator is to oversee the finance and HR functions of an NGO’s mission. They have ultimate responsibility for both areas.
As the senior HR position within an NGO, the Admin Coordinator manages the HR staff. Often, they will line-manage the HR Manager and Officers. The Admin Coordinator will usually report to the Head of Mission. An important part of the Admin Coordinator’s job is to ensure HR processes are effectively implemented across the NGO’s programmes.
How to Apply
To become an Admin Coordinator within an NGO you need a strong understanding of both finance and human resource management. Previous experience in HR roles would definitely be an asset. You will often need five years or more experience to become an Admin Coordinator. A formal qualification in finance or HR would also be beneficial.
In most NGOs, the HR Coordinator is the most senior job in the human resources team. They have ultimate responsibility for ensuring the effective implementation of HR processes. In most NGOs, the HR Coordinator is based in a country office and responsible for the human resource management across the mission.
As a senior HR position, the HR Coordinator reports to the Country Director. They also manage the HR team, often directly line-managing the HR Officers and having oversight of the HR Assistants and Recruiters. In most NGOs, the HR Coordinator will also indirectly report to the HR Advisors in HQ.
How to Apply
If you want to work as a HR Coordinator for an NGO you need several years of relevant work experience. NGOs usually look for previous experience in senior HR roles within the NGO sector when recruiting HR Coordinators. A degree or formal qualification in HR would also be an asset.
In the NGO sector the role of Admin Office is the mid-level position within the Administration team. The Admin Officer covers a range of bureaucratic and human resource tasks. Their role is to ensure the smooth running of an NGO’s administration. The Admin Officer is line-managed by the Admin Coordinator.
Many NGOs combine human resources with administration as the two functions have a degree of overlap. In smaller NGOs, the Admin Officer may cover the full extent of human resources work. In larger NGOs, the Admin Officer may work alongside the HR Officer.
How to Apply
If you are looking for a role that covers both administration and HR, then consider applying for Admin Officer roles within NGOs. As a mid-level position, you will need two to three years of professional experience to get a job as an Admin Officer.
The job of HR Assistant is the entry-level position within an NGOs human resources team. The HR Assistant is responsible for the day-to-day running of the HR department. Their tasks often include drawing-up paperwork, making travel arrangements, issuing contracts and providing assistants to the wider HR team.
The HR Assistant is usually line-managed by the HR Officer. They also often provide assistance to other departments regarding travel or HR administration. In some NGO’s HR Assistants or similar roles are provided as internships.
How to Apply
If you would like to work in human resources for an NGO and are at the beginning of your career, apply for jobs as HR Assistant. You should complete a degree in human resource management if you want to enter the NGO sector as a HR Assistant. A relevant internship may also help you get the job.
In the NGO sector, Admin Assistant is the entry-level position within the Admin team. They often cover a range of HR tasks. Smaller NGOs may have the Admin Assistant overseeing the majority of day-to-day HR work. In larger NGOs, the role of the Admin Assistant covers both administration and human resources.
The Admin Assistant may be line-managed by the Admin Officer or HR Officer. The role of Admin Assistant is in many ways similar to the position of HR Assistant, but with a greater focus on day-to-day administration within the NGO.
How to Apply
Getting a job as an Admin Assistant can be a fantastic way to start a career in the NGO sector. You will often need a relevant degree but completing an internship will give you an advantage as well. However, some NGOs will take people who are just willing and dedicated into the roles of Admin Assistants.
If you want to learn more about how to get a job with an NGO, including in a HR role, explore our list of the top NGO online courses here.