Behind the scenes | Applying for a conservation job at Conservation Careers

This week we welcomed five new Social Media Officers to the Conservation Careers team as part-time, remote volunteers.

How did we select our top candidates, and why? What made them stand out? And why were other applications unsuccessful?

We’re sharing a behind-the-scenes glimpse into our the recruitment process, to help applicants understand what conservation employers are looking for – and how to increase their chances of landing a conservation job or key stepping stone opportunity.

The stats at a glance

Here’s a snapshot of the applications we received for our Social Media Officer (Volunteer) role at Conservation Careers. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the full job description.

To make the application process quick and easy, we asked applicants to answer two questions in 150 words or less, state their availability and share sample social media posts they’d drafted. That’s it. We didn’t ask for any CVs/resumes or cover letters.

Applications received: 36
Complete applications received: 15 (42%)
Shortlisted candidates: 13
Number of CVs received:
Number of cover letters received: 3
Number of expressions of interest (without any supporting information): 6

What did successful applications look like?

All of our shortlisted and top candidates did a great job of:

Addressing exactly what we asked for. In this case, that meant answering our questions and sending sample social media posts as requested. They followed the instructions in the job advertisement to a tee.

Grabbing our attention right from the start. They immediately showed that their interest, experience and skills were a great match for the role – often right at the beginning of their email.

Specifically tailoring their application to the role. Shortlisted applicants clearly showed us how they were a great match for the Social Media Officer role. They used their answers to our questions to show that they’d given careful thought to the role they were applying for, why they were interested in applying, how they could contribute, and how they could benefit.

Submitting relevant, impressive evidence. This came in the form of the four sample social media posts we asked for – which followed our style and showed that they’d had experience with crafting compelling posts. It also shone through when they referenced accomplishments – big or small, in their work, study or hobbies – that helped evidence their interest in and experience with social media.

Showing that they understood us. These applicants clearly showed that they understood Conservation Careers as an organisation, such as our audience’s needs, our purpose and mission and/or how we achieve this. Even if they hadn’t known Conservation Careers for long, they showed that they’d done their research to learn more about us and our needs and goals.

Being specific. They talked about the role, Conservation Careers, and their interests, experience, skills and passion using specific (rather than vague) language and examples.

In selecting our top candidates, we especially loved when applicants:

  • Made our job as easy (and fun) as possible – for example by including subheadings showing the questions they were answering, or by presenting their sample posts in an easy-to-read PDF.
  • Showed attention to detail and creativity/initiative – demonstrating that they understood (and could apply) our current style of social media posts, but also showing a little extra creativity, or suggesting new ideas or opportunities.
  • Showed genuine enthusiasm, positivity and a focus on solutions. It was immediately clear that these applicants would be enthusiastic, engaged and supportive in the role and as part of our team.
  • Weren’t afraid to be unique. We loved it when applicants showcased unique experiences, passions or characteristics made them different, and how this made them a great fit for the role. This also helped make their applications memorable!

Examples of strong applications

Here are a few examples from our successful candidates who kindly agreed to share their answers to the application questions.

Why you’d like the role

“My interest in wildlife and our planet began as soon as I was old enough to watch David Attenborough. Living in a polluted Asian city, visiting littered beaches and witnessing the great work of turtle and elephant conservation projects here has furthered this passion considerably. I work hard to help the planet on an individual basis, and have made sustainability a focus at my school, but now wish to do more. Developed through years of blogging, I have skills and expertise in social media platforms, particularly Instagram [handle]. This role would allow me to combine two real interests – sustainability and social media – to be a force for good. I’m an advocate for finding happiness and fulfilment in a career, which is why I myself am looking for a change. I therefore want to help connect other people who are passionate about this field with the right job for them.”

“I’ve spent the last 5 years working in advertising, planning campaigns across multiple types of media (including social) for clients like IKEA, Department for Transport and The National Lottery. However, for the last couple of years I’ve been wanting to branch out of advertising and into something more worthwhile.

I’ve always been super passionate about nature, but as I don’t have any qualifications in that field I thought I wouldn’t be able to do anything conservation-related as a job.

After stumbling across Conservation Careers online, I’ve been really inspired by the stories of other career-switchers and am now desperate to build my conservation credentials and boost my CV with relevant experience. This volunteer role seems like a perfect first step!”

“I have set up and managed business social media platforms in the past and would love to be involved with Conservation Careers social media delivery. I have recently pivoted my business social media accounts, aiming more toward an educational and environmental information service. I post regularly on Facebook, Instagram and am planning on increasing my posting on YouTube. I share information on certain themes such as Climate Change, Water use, Habitat and Biodiversity. Search [handle here].

I have been studying Environmental Science and have been selected as a Climate Ambassador with An Taisce (National Trust for Ireland). I want to dedicate my career to conservation management, biodiversity improvement, rewilding and regenerative agriculture.”

“I’d love the opportunity to be a part of helping people find their dream job in conservation. As a job seeker myself I always look out for Conservation Careers’ job alert posts on social media, especially LinkedIn, and your creative, clear method of presentation is faultless. I am competent and experienced in all social media channels as well as Hootsuite and I really enjoyed the task of creating the mock job posts. I have excellent attention to detail and like to make things look perfect before completion. I am also able to combine creative and logical thinking which I have demonstrated through my Conservation Biology Masters by creating infographics and presentations on a range of topics.”  
“This role could be a catalyst for my career change, providing me with a wealth of professional experience in social media and communications. The Academy would also provide advice, expertise and an insight into the conservation world of work. This is the perfect opportunity for me to use and apply the knowledge I have developed through my own personal projects in a more professional sphere, as well as supporting our combined vision and love of the planet and its wildlife. I am also excited by the prospect of furthering my knowledge through the Conservation Careers Kickstarter and Communications for Conservation Projects courses. This role will provide the perfect platform for me to build my career in communications, with a specific focus on the environment.”

“Whilst I’ve got a lot of experience with paid social media, I haven’t had experience of running an organic social media channel. My previous role was working with big-spending clients who could afford separate creative agencies to be in charge of the copy and images, whilst I ran the audience strategy and budget. I’m aware that the conservation sector won’t have the same sort of money to hand so if I want to move into an internal marketing role I will need experience of running social media pages, and creating the posts from scratch myself.

I’m also a creative person, but haven’t been able to express this in my previous jobs as they were more focussed on strategy and planning. It would be great to be able to tap into my creativity in this role.”

Why were applications unsuccessful?

Here are the top reasons why applications for the Social Media Officer (Volunteer) role weren’t successful:

  • Incomplete applications. Over half (58%) of applications for this role were rejected simply because they were incomplete, and didn’t follow the application instructions.
  • Untailored applications. Many applications were not tailored specifically to the role or organisation, but were clearly reusing information used in other applications. Although we provided detailed information in the job description, several applications also addressed their emails to ‘To whom it may concern’, ‘Dear Officer’ or simply ‘Hi’.
  • Not meeting the language requirement. This particular role required native English, and unfortunately we couldn’t accept applications that did not meet this criteria.
  • Asking for help, rather than being part of the solution. Rather than showing how they could help support Conservation Careers and conservationists, a few applicants asked for help (please see our help resources below!)

Our recruitment process

We thought we’d share, step by step, how we selected our top candidates.

For each application we received, we first checked whether the application was complete.

Any incomplete applications were dismissed (unless there was a clear mistake – e.g. a PDF didn’t attach properly, etc.)

For all complete applications, using an Excel spreadsheet, we gave the candidate a ranking from 0 to 5 for each component of the application. In this case these components were: 1) why you’d like the role (<150 words), 2) how you’ll benefit (<150 words), 3) your availability and 4) sample social media posts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Because the sample posts were important to the role, we gave each sample post its own ranking out of five. So long as candidates met the availability requirement, they scored a 5.

We then summed up the rankings and used the totals to determine our top candidates.

Because we wanted to have a team ready to go on 1st March, we reviewed applications in two stages: once a week ahead of the closing date and again right after the closing date.

It’s important to note that each employer is different, and each job application is different, but we hope this gives you some insight into the recruitment process from an employer’s point of view.

Key messages

  • Many conservation job applications fail not because of a lack of skills, experience or knowledge, but because they don’t follow the application instructions, or a lack knowledge of how to successfully apply.
  • It’s essential to tailor your application to each role, using specific evidence of your suitability.
  • Employers are often very short on time. One of the best things you can do as job applicant is to make the employer’s job as easy for them as possible!
  • Don’t be afraid to be unique. Let the employer know what makes you you, and how this matches with the role you’re applying for. It will often help you stand out!
  • It’s a good idea to apply early, even when a specific closing date is given. In this case we reviewed every application we received, but we were already offering positions ahead of the closing date.

Useful links & Free Stuff

To help you navigate your options, please select which best describes you:

  • Are you submitting applications, but failing to get many interviews? Check out our FREE eBook Conservation Jobs: The Step-by-Step System to Get Hired as a Wildlife Conservationist – available on KindleEPUB and PDF. You can also read a summary in our Ultimate Guide How to Apply for a Conservation Job: The 10-Step Guide.
  • Do you want to work in conservation but you’re feeling lost, disillusioned or confused?!? Check out our Kick-Starter training designed to help you understand the job market, to navigate your career options, and to get hired more quickly. It’s designed for students, graduates, job-seekers and career-switchers. We’re proud to say it also has 100% satisfaction and recommendation ratings. We know you’ll love it. Find out more about our Kick-Starter – Online Course and Kick-Starter – UK Workshop.
  • Are you applying for your dream job and need extra support to boost your chances? We can review your applications, and provide 1:1 advice on how to improve them. Check out our Application Reviews and Career Coaching.
  • Do you feel ready to be applying for jobs in conservation? Check out our membership packages for job seekers which provide access to the world’s biggest conservation job board – with over 10,000 conservation jobs shared each year – plus a range of other benefits. Check out our monthly memberships here.
  • You’ve got an interview (well done!) and would like our help to prepare for it? We know what employers want, and have helped many people prepare for and deliver successful interviews. Check out our practice interviews here.

The Original Job Advertisement

Here’s the original job advertisement we posted on our website.

Social Media Officer (Volunteer) with Conservation Careers | Multiple Roles

Are you social savvy and passionate about wildlife conservation? Would you love to help conservationists find meaningful, impactful careers? 

Then we want YOU as one of our Social Media Officers (Volunteer) to help grow and engage the Conservation Careers community and share exciting new resources for conservationists!  

We have up to six volunteer (unpaid) roles, based anywhere with an internet connection. You’ll need about 2-4 hours per week for 4 months or more, and in return you’ll receive plenty of free career support resources. 

How would you like to help conservationists find their dream careers? Image credit: Francesca Trotman, Love the Oceans.

About Conservation Careers 

We are the #1 careers advice centre for conservationists – helping over 440,000 conservationists in 178 countries across the globe. 

We believe that all wildlife is beautiful and that it deserves great conservationists working to protect it. We have extensive international knowledge, experience and a network of contacts within the conservation career sector. This means that we can help job seekers and conservation organisations to form lasting relationships. We do this by providing careers advice and information to a network of dedicated conservationists across the globe. 

Learn more about our mission, vision and values. 

About the role 

As Social Media Officer (Volunteer), your mission is to ensure that everyone in the Conservation Careers online community feels inspired and supported in order to achieve career success. You’ll help update and grow our social media channels day-to-day (including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram)bringing opportunities, resources and activities to lifewhile supporting our values and wider goalsYou’ll post daily content across our channels following a monthly plan and ad-hoc updates. 

Our social media following has more than doubled in the past year and we now have over 100,000 followers on social, on the following channels: 

This is aexciting time to join Conservation Careers. You’ll help share brand-new resources we’re developing for conservationists, including our career and professional development courses, ultimate guidesconservation training resources, and much more

Here are just a few of the exciting upcoming projects you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to:

  • Developing an image database to showcase conservation jobs in action.
  • Creating social media campaigns to promote new Conservation Careers online courses.
  • Using creative approaches or campaigns to grow our LinkedIn and Instagram channels. 

Examples of past projects our social media volunteers have led include:

  • Planning, designing and launching our Instagram platform
  • Creating video trailers to promote webinars and podcasts
  • Running a social media campaign to promote our Conservation Careers Kick-Starter course
  • Designing Instagram stories and Highlight Stories

About you 

We’re seeking people who are passionate about wildlife conservation and helping conservationists enjoy meaningful, impactful careers


  • Great attention to detail and a healthy dose of creativity.
  • An eye for crafting posts that grab attention.  
  • Knowledge of social media best practice for at least one of the platforms we manage (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram).
  • Native English. 


  • Experience successfully building and engaging online communities.
  • Experience delivering effective social media campaigns.
  • Knowledge of best practice for additional channels we manage (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram).
  • An understanding of the impact social media can create for a business.
  • Experience using Hootsuite.
  • Video editing skills.

Location: Anywhere! (home-based) 

Time commitment: Part-time, 24 hours per week for 4-6 months. You will usually need to be available for 20-30 minutes daily from Monday to Friday. 

Start date: 1 March 2021 or as soon as possible 

Trial period: 1 month 

What we offer 

While this position is unpaid, we can offer:  

  • Valuable professional experience with a global conservation company 
  • A chance to make a HUGE difference for conservationists and conservation 
  • Full access to our online Conservation Careers Kickstarter course (value £295)including aConservation Careers Academy membership for the duration of your role 
  • Full access to our next online Communications for Conservation Projects course (value £295)
  • A role with small, young company that values agility, openness, collaboration and optimism 
  • Flexible working hours  
  • References and recommendations depending on performance 


To apply, please email Kristi FosterHead of Engagement, at explaining 1) why you’d like the role (<150 words), 2) how you’ll benefit (<150 words) and 3) your availability. 

With your application, please choose one opportunity from our Job Board or Careers Advice Blog and write sample Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram posts showing how you would promote them on social. You can visit our FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram channels to get a feel for our style. Your posts should include text, image(s)/video, link and hashtags (where appropriate) and be sent as screenshots of draft posts (e.g. either on the social platforms themselves or via a publishing platform like Hootsuite). 

Applications are open until 11:59pm (GMT) Sunday 28 February 2021.


Careers Advice, Top Tips, Recruitment Tips, Professional Development