Dear Matt: I have over 25 years of experience in corporate America. Now I am researching opportunities in the nonprofit sector; the thought of working for an organization that is mission driven is more appealing than a company that focuses on budget, growth and market share. What should I do to find a job the nonprofit sector?
Matt says: The first thing to remember is that the same job search rules apply. You will need to network and make contacts, put together a résumé that fits for each job you apply for, and put your best foot forward when interviewing. Those strategies don't change.
"Even though it's a nonprofit organization, it's still a business -- just like corporate America," said Diane Steele, a career coach and counselor and president of Twin Cities-based Steele Recruiting (steelerecruiting.com). "The job titles may differ a bit in some cases, but by reading job descriptions you will find many similarities in the job responsibilities between corporate and nonprofit jobs."
Why do people turn to nonprofits? Steele says in her experience, it happens when people find their current position or career does not fulfill their professional or personal goals. Sometimes it comes down to lack of true meaning or purpose in a current role. Sometimes people want to make a difference or have more impact in their daily work, and that becomes more important than the need to make money or gain status.
If you are interested in a career in the nonprofit sector, Steele offers these tips:
Identify a few nonprofits you are interested in and do substantial research.
Look for full-time, part-time or volunteer opportunities within those organizations.
Seek out volunteer board opportunities.
Network with people in the nonprofit/volunteer sector through social networking and charity events.
List your nonprofit and volunteer experience on your résumé and on your LinkedIn account.
Be prepared for one possible change: nonprofits typically do not pay as much as corporate positions, with the exception of high level executive roles. But for those transitioning to nonprofits, money is not what's motivating them.
"If you find a cause or nonprofit that you can personally identify with, you can learn to live without all the bells and whistles you once had in the corporate world," said Steele. "In exchange you'll work in a career that fills your need to serve and help people -- which in many cases is priceless."
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