Finding a nonprofit job is not a slam dunk by any means. But, a new book, Transitioning to the Nonprofit Sector:Shifting Your Focus from the Bottom Line to a Better World, by Laura Gassner Otting, provides specific information to help you with a confusing, even daunting task.
A specialist in nonprofit employment, Otting covers everything from the nonprofit zeitgeist to search techniques to writing a resume that will appeal to nonprofits. She also points out that there are stereotypes about people who want to change from the corporate sector into nonprofit work.
Getting a Nonprofit Job by Breaking Through the Stereotypes
A job seeker will need to recognize the stereotypes he or she may be up against and know how to prove them wrong to an interviewer. Common stereotypes include:
- "You are used to getting things done by delegating work to the many support staff you have had at your disposal."
- "You expect that you will be rewarded handsomely for your work and will have plenty of resources to get the job done."
- "You think that because you have raised investment money, you will easily be able to raise nonprofit funds."
- "You think that nonprofits would run better if only they ran just like for-profits."
- "You are going to change the culture of the nonprofit by imprinting your corporate stamp everywhere."
- You value money more than people and make only rational, not emotional decisions."
- You are not succeeding in your for-profit work and think the nonprofit sector will be easier."
- "If you really cared so deeply about the mission, you wouldn't have sold out to the for-profit sector so many years ago."
Author Otting goes into each of these stereotypes and suggests approaches you can take to defuse them.
Nonprofit Job Trends
But, Otting's book is not just for people changing careers. She also addresses first time job hunters and older workers who are interested in working for nonprofits as a final career before full retirement.
To me, the most helpful part of the book is Otting's overview of the nonprofit sector. She goes into trends and provides job profiles. She punctures common stereotypes about nonprofit work, and provides insight into the breadth of nonprofit organizations. As a good career counselor, Otting guides readers in assessing their skills, motivations, and interests.
Otting says, "...finding your place in the nonprofit sector means making three important choices: your motivating social cause or societal problem, the approach you would like to take to aid this cause or solve this problem, and the skills and experiences you bring to the table."
Sometimes, job seekers are naive and think just because they feel the need to help people or animals or the world in some way, that is enough. But it isn't. Don't look for and certainly don't interview for a nonprofit job until you've read this book. It will save you a mountain of time and help you to not only get a job but the right nonprofit job for you.
Transitioning to the Nonprofit Sector: Shifting Your Focus from the Bottom Line to a Better World, Laura Gassner Otting, Kaplan, 2007, $16.95 U.S.