Tips for Transitioning into a Non-Profit Career

If you've been working in the for-profit sector and want to transition into a non-profit career, follow these tips to make the transition smoothly.

If you are ready to transition from a private sector job into a non-profit career, follow these tips to make your transition smooth:
  1. First, take a volunteer job in the sector and see if it's really where you want to work – Before you make the move, find an organization in the non-profit sector you have an interest in and volunteer for six months. This will give you a chance to see if you really like that sector.
  2. Before you make the move, get to know the leaders in the non-profit sector you want to work in – Who are the important people in the sector? Write to them, or call them, and ask them about working in that sector. As you learn more about the sector you are researching, develop relationships with the non-profit leaders in the sector as they will become important and valuable resources once you complete your transition.
  3. Demonstrate that you care about the cause and not just the job – If you are not sold on the cause of the non-profit job you are seeking, you will not excel at it. People who work in the non-profit sector care at least as much about the cause as they do the job. You should too.
  4. Interview with more than one non-profit – Keep your options open. Interview with more than one organization so that you'll have a basis of comparison. It will lead to a better understanding of the sector you'll be working in, and could lead to better opportunities.
  5. Network relentlessly – Any job search requires networking. Don't just network with the top leaders in the sector. Network with anyone associated with your target sector. You never know where that will lead.
  6. Demonstrate that you understand the language of the sector and the non-profit agency you are interviewing with – It's important that you understand the terminology people inside the sector use. Learn the language of the non-profit sector you intend to work in before you start interviewing.
Job transitions into a new sector can be tough. Improve your success by taking the time to learn the sector inside and out and working to build a network with other professionals already working in non-profit roles. Leverage those connections to learn about new opportunities, to secure an interview,  and eventually, to nab a new job.  
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