If you’ve been contemplating a career change to work that makes a social impact, there’s no time like the present. There are many potential roles in organizations that make a difference. Here are some ways to take action towards your goal:
#1 – Lean into your authentic self
When you’re interviewing for a position, show them your authentic self and how your unique strengths and skills would add value to the organization. The common, “Tell me about yourself” question is your opportunity to tell your story and make this answer your own. Avoid giving a generic answer by providing specific examples that showcase your achievements.
#2 – Identify your transferable skills and focus on your strengths
You can learn about the requirements for nonprofit jobs by researching opportunities on Idealist.org. In the social sector, it’s likely that you’ll wear different hats and need to use a variety of skills within and outside of your area of expertise. Convey those skills to potential employers by providing specific examples of ways that you would you use your technical skills to benefit the organization. For example, in the corporate world, I used my business development skills as a management consultant to write Request for Proposals (RFPs) and now, I use that same skill as a non-profit training director to seek consultants and trainers for projects.
If you do not have the skills for the roles that interest you, consider volunteering, serving on a board or upskilling by taking an online course. Add a “professional development section” to your resume and list relevant webinars, conferences, and workshops you’ve attended. If you’re having difficulty identifying your strengths, the Via Character Strengths Survey or another career assessment may be helpful.
#3 – Showcase the issues you care about
On your resume and your LinkedIn profile, showcase your paid and unpaid (volunteer) experience along with any field work or special projects that you’ve done. Present evidence on your resume of your knowledge and actions regarding important and relevant social issues. Conduct informational interviews or go on virtual coffee chats with people within organizations that interest you. Don’t be shy about reaching out to people that you don’t know on LinkedIn. Be genuine and let them know that you’re purely seeking to learn more about their work and their organization.
#4 – What will your career legacy be?
Consider your core values. How will you intentionally design your career to align with your personal mission or purpose? Don’t put your career on auto pilot and forget about it. Be intentional about the impact that you want to have in your area of work. Craft a personal mission statement and take action that brings you joy while having an impact. Alternatively, many people find great satisfaction in doing volunteer work and leadership roles on issues they care about that complements their day job.
Yolanda Fraction, MEd’12, is passionate about developing leaders to make a social impact at the global and national level. She leads training and development at the Hunger Center, supporting the leadership development of Leland and Emerson Fellows and Zero Hunger Interns. She designs and delivers training that enables leaders and organizations to change the world for the better. She was formerly the Training Manager at the Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism and, as an Americops alumna,managed training for Maryland AmeriCorps members and grantees.
Yolanda holds a certificate in international studies and social change from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies. Her graduate degree in adult and organizational learning from Northeastern University and bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from George Mason University have enabled her to design and implement everything from large-scale conferences to eLearning modules.