What’s it like to work for WWF? (and how to get a job with them!)

WWF have 58 offices around the globe and around 6,203 staff. Mary Ellen Swenson is a Human Resources Coordinator at WWF and is based at the headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. Her role involves a lot of work in social media, promoting vacancies, shortlisting and doing interviewing. In an interview with Conservation Careers she describes what it’s like to work for WWF, and how to get a job there.

What’s the mission of WWF?

Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature

What type of people work for WWF?

We hire a very diverse range of staff. For example, on my team there are people from all parts of the world; I come from US and others from India, UK, Romania, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, etc. We really value diversity, and people that come from different walks of life. Our staff also reflect our organisational values which are knowledgeable, optimistic, determines and engaged.

Are there particular skills that you’re increasingly looking for?

People that are very adaptable and can learn quickly are highly valued today. We need staff that can walk into different situations, perhaps not always knowing the full picture, and do well.

What’s it like to work for WWF?

The best thing about working for WWF is the people. There’s a real sense of community, and as a network organization, we interact often with staff from different offices and regions. Even if you only know people through emails, there’s a real sense of community which I think is unique for such a large network. We’re a global family.

The biggest challenge in WWF is working with ambiguity and sometimes without tight processes. People need to be flexible and able to cope with a lack of defined structures.

What makes someone stand out from a large pool of candidates?

The experience and background are definitely the basis. However, it is then the fit for the organization and the team that will make the difference. We are looking for candidates that really believe in what we do at WWF and that adhere to our values.

Are there any dos and don’ts for CVs and interviews at WWF?

A CV will reflect the personality of the applicant, as well as their knowledge or lack of expertise in designing it. Depending on the role, it’s really worth investing time in doing a good layout, this will also tell us if the person is comfortable with IT tools. Highlighting your interpersonal competencies can also be a plus.

For interviews, we use competency-based interview questions. The aim for us is really to get to know the candidate as well as to possibly assess whether he or she will be a fit or not for the organization and the role. To do that we try to create an open atmosphere and we expect interviewees to be open about what they bring, but also what they expect from the organization.

What are the characteristics WWF looks for when it hires new talent?

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Besides the technical capabilities that differ from one role to another, we are looking for candidates that are keen to work in a very international environment, that bring different multicultural backgrounds and that are eager to contribute to the work the organization does.

Be honest, do you read the covering letter?

Yes, I do read them, usually after going through the CV. As much as a CV can tell you about the factual experience, the letter will give us some insight about what is really behind the facts and, most importantly, what is their motivation for the role and organization.

How many people sit on a typical interview panel?

It depends on the seniority of the role. Typically, there might be three or four, but for very senior or global positions we invite more people from across the WWF network.

Do you have any tips candidates should know before applying to WWF?

I would advise candidates in their applications to make the link between what we are looking for (the job description) and the experience they bring, as well as putting forwards their interest in working for WWF!  Having been here for a few years now, I think it is a great organization to work for and a place where you can make a contribution at your level.

What advice would you give someone who wants to work for WWF in the future?

We have a Youth Volunteer and Internship Programme which people should check out. I started as a volunteer myself – so it does work!

Where do you advertise your vacancies?

You can follow us on Twitter (@WWF_Jobs), join us on LinkedIn and see our website for current job listings. Dependent upon where the jobs will be based, we also post on various job boards like Conservation Careers*.

*Thank you!

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