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4 Easy Steps To Help You Transition To a Non-profit Career

Have you thought about how to transition to a non-profit career?

Are you tired of the nine-to-five grind, clocking in and out each day, wondering if there is more you could be doing with your time?

Have you reached the point where you are searching for purpose and meaning in your life, including where you spend your working hours?

A 2018 study by Harvard Business Review found that nine out of ten employees were willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work. When polling more than 2000 respondents, the average American equated that number to 23% throughout their life. 

That’s HUGE!

Considering you spend approximately 90,000 hours or roughly ⅓ of your life at work, you want to ensure what you do matters.

And if you feel the non-profit sector is where you can do the most good, we want to help you make that leap in four easy steps. 

Let’s go!

Why do you want to work for a non-profit organization?

But wait!

Before you take this momentous leap out of your comfort zone, take the time to ask to give yourself a reality check. 

First, non-profit organizations focus funds and donations on the primary mission first, which usually lends to leaner salaries for their staff compared to their for-profit counterparts. If money is currently an issue for you, this is the time to reassess.

And second, non-profit work requires commitment. Missional work is a marathon, not a race, and in today’s instant gratification-driven society, one can be easily discouraged. But with dedication and steadfastness, you can see your work pay off in incredible ways.

Considering those key factors will help you gain perspective and set reasonable expectations, making the transition much easier.

How do I change my career to nonprofit?

Making career changes can be challenging, but not impossible. Remember, people do it all the time and you can too. Here’s how:

  1. Start by Volunteering. Volunteering should be your first stop in your journey towards a non-profit career. It is an excellent way to explore which types of organizations you want to work in and how you would best fit into that world. Another excellent reason to start volunteering for a cause that aligns with your beliefs is that it allows you to side-step some barriers, such as lack of experience in the non-profit sector or the perception of un-transferable skills. It is not uncommon for non-profits to see corporate experience as a clash with their values, but if you want to pursue this line of work, this is how you pay the piper. While you are investing your time and energy into the mission, not only will you build your knowledge of the non-profit arena, but you will prove that your past experiences are assets worth keeping, no matter who your last employer was.
  2. Network Constantly. Not unlike getting a job in the corporate world, getting a job at a non-profit is also about who you know and how invested you are in that community. When you start volunteering, you automatically begin this process. But that is not enough. You must take a deep dive into your local non-profit community, participate in professional associations, attend local networking events, or enroll in a training program within the organization you are serving. You would be surprised at the new and exciting opportunities that arise from the training alone. Once immersed, you will find it easy to network with people also looking to improve this world. 
  3. Stick to What You Know. Sometimes, venturing into a non-profit is not about changing your job to something you have never done before, like digging wells or building homes for those in need- but more like using what you do for a higher purpose. So go the path of least resistance and apply for a job closely related to your current job. It may differ from where you want to end up, but it’s an excellent way to get your foot in the door. Once you are in, it will be easier to show initiative and willingness to get involved in other projects, landing you the job of your dreams. 
  4. Tailor Your Resume. If you missed our building a powerful resume piece, head over and take a gander. There, we discussed the importance of putting keywords in your resume. Tailoring your CV for non-profits is the same, as they have specific needs and terminology they use to find the perfect candidate. Explore your ideal positions and pick out the keywords (these usually repeat and are near the top), ensuring you create a version of your resume that matches them. Study the job description’s wording carefully and mirror the verbiage on your cover letter and resume. And lastly, make sure you position yourself as bringing value to the organization. Your strengths may not be automatically apparent, so highlight as many soft skills as possible to complement the hard skills you possess to give your resume the extra pop it needs.


Helpful Resources

But wait there’s more!

To help you get started on your journey, here are some wonderful resources. 

Idealist and CoGenerate are two websites that are all about helping job seekers make a big difference with the work they do. 

Flexjobs also prides itself in providing a plethora of non-profit opportunities, especially those that are remote.

And last but not least is VolunteerMatch. This is where you can get plugged into your non-profit community and even find training positions that take you overseas. If you want to volunteer remotely, they got you covered, too. Just click the “Remote” option in your search criteria.


Go Save the World

Whatever your reason for wanting to join the ranks of a nonprofit, know that devoting time to a good cause is always noble and worth pursuing. 

While you may not have the financial compensation as your for-profit counterpart, what you will gain is infinitely better. 

A life spent on purpose. 

No longer will you be another worker bee dreading each day, but part of a vibrant community dedicated to some of the biggest problems we face today. 

Your past experiences and knowledge will help whatever cause you choose to reach its goal and create a better future for generations to come.

All you have to do is take one step at a time.

So what are you waiting for? Go save the world!

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