Question: Is it true that nonprofits are not inclined to choose previous for-profit career switchers? If so, what can we career-switchers do to change that impression from resume submission to meeting? – D. Dunford, Bristow, VA.
Answer: Making a career change is difficult enough, and taking the leap from the for-profit world to the nonprofit one often feels like a leap across the Grand Canyon. With dedication, passion and a strong work ethic, however, the leap is possible! According to a recent survey, 44% of nonprofits plan to create positions in the upcoming year, making the switch all the more accessible to those outside the sector. Some things to consider and tips as you begin your transition:
As with any for-profit position, know what you want. With nonprofits this means the following: what type of culture are you looking for? Slower-paced and well-established or a snappy, fast start-up? What type of organization do you see yourself at, cause-wise?
What are your skills? How do you plan on applying them? Is anything missing? If so, you may want to consider taking a class or obtain a certificate to sharpen your skillset.
After you assess your skills, consider consulting or volunteering for an organization with a mission and values you believe in. Taking on a project for them and building strong relationships are a great way to show your commitment and desire to work hard for the cause—two essential aspects in the nonprofit sector.
Familiarize yourself with the market. As with jobs in the for-profit sector, it’s important to stay up to date on the nonprofit field and stay abreast of trends and news affecting the sector. Read articles, engage smartly on social media and attend conferences or panels to remain well-versed.
Making the decision to switch careers isn’t easy, but with a little savvy networking and a lot of drive, the decision is less fraught with peril and more rewarding as you take a proactive step to achieving your dreams!
Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.