Job application feedback from Conservation Careers

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

We know that it can be hard – and sometimes impossible – for conservationists to receive feedback from employers about their job applications (just check out our survey Conservation Job Applications | Key Stats).

To help, we’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look at our selection process, to help applicants understand why top candidates stood out – and how to increase their own 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. No CVs/resumes or cover letters required.

Applications we received: 15

Complete applications we received: 7 (50%)

Applications we received via LinkedIn (not following our application process): 4

What did successful applicants do?

All of our successful applicants:

Followed application instructions to a tee. They answered our questions and sent sample social media posts as requested.

Grabbed our attention from ‘go’. They showed that their interest, experience and skills were a great match for the role right away – in some cases at the start of their email.

Clearly articulated their motivation for applying. It might surprise you, but many conservation job applicants don’t make their motivations clear or specific enough. Even the most skilled applicants can fail to be shortlisted if they don’t show how they fit with a role or organisation. The applicants we selected made it clear that they understood us, understood the role and truly wanted to be involved.

Used relevant, impressive evidence. Successful applicants provided the sample social media posts we asked for – which followed our style and showed that they could do the job. Many also referenced accomplishments – big or small – in their work, study or hobbies, helping to evidence their interest and experience with social media and conservation.

Showed that they understood us. Whether they’d known us for years, or found us last month, these applicants showed us that they’d done their research and understood our mission and needs.

Used specifics. 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

“I am currently working in Law but am looking to change my career to work in wildlife conservation. I’d like to gain as much varied experience as possible and, having worked as a volunteer Social Media Officer for the RSPCA previously, this volunteer role seems like a great opportunity and the perfect fit for me. I have experience in marketing, particularly social media (Facebook and Instagram) and writing blog posts, and am passionate about wildlife conservation and helping endangered species.

I am hoping that, through this volunteer role I can help to inspire and support others who are looking to get into conservation, like myself, but don’t know where to start, particularly if they are going to be career changers later in life who need advice on opportunities available.”

“As an outsider without a relevant degree, I experienced firsthand how difficult it is to get into conservation. As people started to wake up to the climate emergency and the urgent need to protect nature, I see a lot of passion and interest among young people and students to get into the conservation field. In particular, this field is still nascent in most parts of the developing world where such jobs are urgently needed. Meanwhile, not only am I a burgeoning online activist, building a significant following, I am also starting an educational program among high school and university students to raise awareness about ecofriendly lifestyles and impending environmental crises. Therefore, bringing conservation opportunities to ordinary people with Conservation Careers and inspiring them to get involved is probably one of the most impactful contributions I can make to the field in my current situation.”

How you’ll benefit

“Although I have social media experience on a small scale I would relish the opportunity to work for a larger, reputable organisation like Conservation Careers and gain experience in a professional context, which would undoubtedly give a boost to my conservation communications career. In particular I am keen to work with you on campaigns, such as promoting new resources, as this is an area of communications which I have not yet experienced. Additionally, I am quick to learn and enjoy picking up new skills so I hope to extend my social media experience to Twitter as I currently have limited knowledge of this channel. Similarly, although I enjoy planning and creating videos, my video editing skills are still in their infancy so this is another skill I wish to improve whilst volunteering in this position.”

Why you’d like the role & How you’ll benefit (combined)

“I was made aware of Conservation Careers during my undergraduate degree in BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation. Following this, I have found the social media posts advertising opportunities and resources really helpful in discovering what sort of jobs are available in the conservation sector. I would love the opportunity to be a part of this process, in order to help others in their career journey no matter what stage they are at. Although not in a professional context, I have spent the last two years developing my Instagram account (@XXX), where I share my wildlife, nature and landscape photos, alongside wildlife facts and stories. This has developed my working knowledge and practical understanding of social media practice in a semi-professional capacity. As a creative person, I really enjoy the process of crafting a post, from writing the text to choosing the image and hashtags, ultimately to create a well-rounded and informative post that grabs the attention of the person scrolling. During my degree, I gained experience in shooting and editing short professional videos. For example, I produced a video about my university journey and career aspirations which was sent to prospective employers, and a promotional video about my course. Currently I am undertaking a postgraduate degree in MSc Science Communication, and I would love to further improve my practical understanding of engaging online communities and delivering effective social media campaigns alongside my degree. I believe that this role will really enable me to develop my skillset in this area, to aid me when applying for science communication positions following my degree.”

“I’d like this role because I am a graduate conservationist with a passion for the conservation of natural areas and the species within them. I have a BSc in Wildlife Conservation and an MRes in Biology (both from UK universities). My master’s thesis focused on wild UK solitary bee species! I want to make a difference and I’d love to be doing so through this role while I continue my search for a position within my field! 

I’ll bring a lot to your team in terms of enthusiasm and motivation. I love to help others and I am a great communicator. I’d love to be part of helping others to find their dream roles. I have almost 4 years of experience in teaching English and working with people from around the world, more recently online from home. I have a strong eye for detail, with fantastic observational and design skills. I pride myself on my ability to create attractive, engaging and dynamic lessons/slideshows for my online students. In my spare time I enjoy cross stitch and drawing (both physically and digitally with a graphics tablet).”

For more examples, check out Behind the scenes | Applying for a conservation job at Conservation Careers.

Our recruitment process

Here’s how we selected our top candidates, step by step.

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, we gave the candidate a ranking from 0 to 5 for each component of the application, using an Excel spreadsheet. 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.

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. If you’d like more insights from a conservation employer, we recommend checking out Marine conservation job application tips and tricks from The Reef-World Foundation!

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. Did you know that about 90% of the job applications Conservation International receives are of poor quality?
  • Always tailor your application to each and every role, using specific evidence of your suitability.
  • If you clearly articulate your motivation (e.g. you can answer, ‘Why am I applying for this role?’ and ‘Why do I want to work with this organisation?’), the employer is much more likely to understand how you fit, and see you as committed.
  • 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 easy!
  • 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!

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.
  • 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.

You don’t have to be a ‘superhero’ (or famous action figure) to land a job. We hope this feedback helps you showcase your unique skills to employers!

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.

About Conservation Careers 

We are the #1 careers advice centre for conservationists – helping over 630,000 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 130,000 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 guides, webinars, and much more

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

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

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
  • Leading a social media campaign to promote our Conservation Careers Kick-Starter course, and How to Apply for Any Conservation Job course
  • Designing Instagram stories and Highlight Stories
  • Developing best practice guidelines
  • Designing infographics

About you

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

Essential:

  • 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 core platforms we manage (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram).
  • Complete English fluency (writing, reading, speaking and listening). Applicants from any country are encouraged to apply, but you must have English fluency equivalent to native level to be considered. 

Desirable:

  • 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, YouTube).
  • An understanding of the impact social media can create for a business.
  • Experience using Hootsuite.
  • Graphic design skills.
  • 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: 25October 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 a Conservation Careers Academy membership for the duration of your role
  • Full access to our next online Communications for Conservation Projects course (value £295)
  • Full access to our next online How to Apply for Any Conservation Job 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

Interested?

To apply, please email Kristi FosterHead of Engagement, at kristi@conservation-careers.com explaining:

  1. Why you’d like the role (<150 words)
  2. How you’ll benefit (<150 words)
  3.  Your availability
  4. Sample posts (see below)

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) Monday 18 October 2021.

 

Careers Advice, Comms & Marketing Conservation Jobs, Recruitment Tips, Top Tips, Volunteer & Internships

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