Breaking into the nonprofit world is not that different from entering a for-profit organization. However, making the jump from the corporate world into a 501(c)(3) can be daunting—especially when competing against those with seemingly years of charitable bona fides, international volunteer experience, and degrees in public policy. Certain skills are better regarded than others, knowing what you want is half the battle, and an strategic approach delivers the best results.
Assess Transferable Skills
Often, nonprofit jobs involve working in a more collaborative atmosphere with a smaller team when compared to corporate businesses. That’s not to say you won’t have a boss or have to answer to higher-ups—a board of directors, for example. Still, making a transition to a nonprofit career is a good time to assess your skills and demonstrate not only that you take charge of a project or supervise people, but also that you’re happily capable of “playing well with others” and are committed to the cause.
Re-direct Your Educational Focus
Many educational institutions offer certificate programs in nonprofit management and leadership. While you may already have a great background that has served you well in the for-profit sector, you’ll demonstrate your new commitment to the nonprofit sector if you’ve broadened your educational credentials by earning a certificate in the nonprofit area, particularly if you’re looking at jobs in nonprofit management. Check out Skye Learning for affordable certificates online, or try an online learning platform for a cheaper method without the accreditation.
For career changers, volunteering your talents by working a nonprofit, even on a part-time or pro bono basis, is a great way to try out your prospective new career and build resume credibility in the nonprofit landscape. Volunteering for a nonprofit can rev up your enthusiasm for a worthwhile cause and help you to determine whether a nonprofit career is right for you.
Prepare to Make Less Money
Salary is typically a major trade-off during the transition, as nonprofit work is meaningful but typically produces a smaller paycheck. Be ready to explain your willingness to make less money in return for working with an organization whose cause is important.
This can be part of the previous step by using contacts with nonprofit organizations as connections for networking. Volunteering is one way to not only become familiar with how nonprofits operate, but also to build your network. Performing volunteer work also provides experience, shows you care about the organization’s mission and is a way to demonstrate your abilities and skills. Serving on nonprofit boards is also very important, and good board members are always in high demand.
It takes a bit of time to shift from a for-profit career into the nonprofit world, but it can be worth the wait. Those who truly want to do work they’re passionate about can achieve much greater career satisfaction by putting in the effort to break into this different sector. Don't forget to search for your next nonprofit job in Los Angeles right here on DeepSweep.