Switching from For-Profit to Non-Profit

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Switching sectors from for-profit businesses to nonprofit organizations has become increasingly common throughout the past five years. Many of these for-business professionals consider this career switch into the nonprofit world because of their emphasis on charitable missions. The idea to make a meaningful and transitive impact is not alluring, but a possible personal goal as well.

While you would think that the transition into this type of work would be easy, the move can, at times, be difficult to adjust in. Many candidates often struggle to frame their own professional experience in a way that makes sense to nonprofit work. In fact, the overall story and transitive skills can be difficult to translate beyond the operational objectives within their for-profit sector. If you are looking to be successful within the non-profit industry, it is imperative that you reflect, analyze, research and prepare any necessary changes within your mentality. To help you with this transition, I have provided some vital tips to get you on your way to do something bigger than yourself.

To start, begin by doing your homework. Make sure you research every organization and program that you are interested in so that you know what you are getting yourself into. Not every nonprofit is going to value and leverage the private sector skills that you bring to the table. Spend some time learning the mission and values that each nonprofit is working towards and how you can become an asset and a key leader when you get the job. In addition, make sure you learn the background of some of their key leaders. Understanding their own personal success stories can help you gain a holistic view of the type of leaders they are looking for within their organization.

In addition to researching the background and history of the nonprofit organization that you are interested in, make sure you analyze your own personal and professional skills. Similar to any job, every organization is looking for something that can help push it to the next level. While handling millions of dollars of accounts or raising an X-amount of cash within one business quarter may seem like a huge accomplishment at other private sector firms, this may not be the same case for nonprofits. For many nonprofits, they are looking for leadership, management, and communication skills. Make sure you analyze your professional resume and highlight particular professional achievements and skills that can be translated to your sought out position. For example, if you are looking to work within their fundraising marketing department, try and highlight any grant writing or fundraising skills that can showcase your talents.

Once you have analyzed your professional experience, make sure you have a strong holistic reason for switching into the nonprofit sector. As much as you can reference how you would like to do good, you have to understand these organizations have heard this answer countless times. If you are looking to be an active leader within the nonprofit sector, especially for director and managerial positions, you need to create a story of self that directs your professional path to theirs. Ask yourself various overarching questions like: Why do you want to leave your current position? What interested you about nonprofit? What interested you about this organization? How can you relate to their mission? Go even as far and network with various members within the organization and ask them their thoughts and reasons for what got them there. Having a strong grasp of these questions will allow you to better internalize the move. This in turn should allow you to translate that to your prospective employers.

Once that is all done and said, the last thing you need to do is to be realistic about the compensation packages these nonprofit organizations are offering. Now, it is a myth that nonprofit organizations do not pay well. For some, you can be looking at six-or-seven-figure positions. But, unlike the for-profit businesses, salary compensation can be significantly lower that what you were making before. Remember, their main goal is not necessary selling their product. Instead, they are trying to enact a change that can eventually impact and shape the world. If you feel like your finances will be unstable taking this type of position, ask yourself if this is the right move. If you are still adamant about the position, go forward and make your change.

The True Leadership within an Organization

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Being a business leader can be a rewarding experience. But it can also be filled with various challenges. At times, people have this false assumption that these individuals can fulfill the ‘hero’ role in any situation. As much as we can believe that, we need to be tangible and understand that a true leader is someone who can not only inspire motivation and action during the best times, but also admit fault and accept responsibilities during the most difficult stints. It is that sacrifice that truly represents a strong business leader. Without it, the success, the goals, and the overall vision of a company are nothing but a fade dream.

So what characterizes leadership within an organization? How can leadership take your business and company to the next level?

Let’s start off by examining the arduous decisions business leaders need to make on the day-to-day basis. For many people, they are unable to conceptualize the risk of putting thousands, maybe millions, of dollars solely on a simple deal. While it maybe difficult to imagine this situation, in reality, this particular event happens all the time. For business leaders, decisions like these are not just asked, but decided upon almost each and every day. In fact, they spend an excessive amount of time and a tremendous amount of energy making these overarching decisions for the betterment of the company. The main problem of course is the tradeoff, or ‘catch’ if you will. It is like that childhood saying: “No matter what, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.” Like this slogan, business leaders need to be well aware of the ramifications their decisions make on their company and their employees. One simple mistake could impact the livelihood of hundred and thousands of people.

Outside of decisions making, business leaders need to be reflective. For many people, they go to their jobs each and every day without a care in their minds. In comparison, true business leaders within the work place are constantly thinking of the world around them. For them, their mission is to go into their companies with the intention to resell their visions to their employees, their investors, and their clients, especially if the company is going through big and drastic changes. The one thing to note is that with any type of changes, there will always be some type of negative reception from the general public. The worst thing you can do is to ignore these cries and complaints. Instead you need to address them. True business leaders acknowledge and reflect on the weaknesses and problems of their business. They try to understand the negative perspective so that they can arrive at the most viable solution. While of course it is easier said than done, the task to inspire and reinvigorate your company’s values with new and innovative solutions is something that takes a strong amount of effort.

Now a business leader isn’t a true leader if there is no balance within authority. While you may be the boss, you want to make sure that you are respected and open-minded to your workers. At times, many directors or supervisors have been criticized to be too authoritative with their workers. This leads to low work morale and a low retention rate. To benefit your company, try and find that balance. True business leaders make sure to listen and respect their employees. Just because you have a higher title does not mean you cannot learn from those under you. Remember, a true leader is one who is humble enough to admit their flaws. To inspire action and success, you need to become more than just the authority. You need to be the voice that echoes their future.