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For-Profit to Nonprofit Career

Eight Tips for Jumping Ship: For-Profit to Nonprofit Career

There is a looming shortage of talent in the nonprofit sector as its older staff begin to retire. This is made worse by phenomenal growth in the sheer numbers of nonprofit organizations.

There is plenty of opportunity for corporate employees to move into the nonprofit world if they are drawn to work that is mission-driven. But it takes more than a fuzzy dream. A column in the New York Times provided these tips for the corporate dude or lass who is thinking about jumping ship.

1. Analyze why you are attracted to nonprofit work as a career.

You could volunteer rather than actually work in a nonprofit. What attracts you to it as a career? Are those reasons enough to offset possible losses?

2. Figure out what kind of organization you would like to work for.

Simply saying you want to work for a nonprofit is not enough. There are an estimated 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. Do your research and figure out just what kind of nonprofit you are interested in, and then imagine what role you want to play and why.

3. Get real about certain things.

For example it is a misconception that working for a nonprofit will be less stressful than the for-profit world. In fact you might work longer hours for less pay.

4. Make sure that you can accept the likelihood that you will earn less money.
Nonprofit work can be 5-10% lower for entry-level jobs and mid level employees. For top positions, compensation can be as much as 50% lower than comparable corporate jobs.

5. Look for nonprofit jobs in the same industry.

Try looking for nonprofit organizations that are part of the industry you are currently in. That way, the transition may be easier. If you want a complete change, check out local nonprofits or the local field offices of national ones.

6. Don’t just send a resume to a nonprofit.

Learn about the organization, and make contacts there. One good way to do this is to be a volunteer, particularly if you can use your skills or learn new ones.

7. Check out the leadership of the nonprofit.
Good nonprofits to work for are ones where the board is supportive of the staff but does not micromanage it. Likewise, a good CEO of a nonprofit will share power with his or her employees, and support ongoing training.

8. Revamp your corporate resume before presenting it to a nonprofit.
Emphasize your skills, not your job title. Highlight any multidisciplinary projects you’ve worked on to show you are flexible enough to work with the diverse stakeholders at a nonprofit. List your volunteer experience. It will prove that you are not a nonprofit “virgin.”