Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jobseekers: Quit Looking to Nonprofits to Nurture Your Soul

I'm compelled to confront. I'm hearing a lot of people talking about wanting to transition into the nonprofit sector because they've had it with their soul-sucking for-profit employer. They want to feel better about what they do and while I don't begrudge anyone satisfaction with how they spend their working hours, I do ask people to start reframing their thinking.

There are as many nuances among the cultures of nonprofit organizations as there are among those within the for-profit sector. It becomes dangerous to lump them together, expect that they all feed the soul when in fact there are many, many mission-driven or purpose-led companies within the for-profit sector that feed the heart as much as the head.

Answering the question of fit is as much looking inside one's own expectations, desires and intentions as it is examining the culture of the potential organizations. The nonprofit sector can be immensely rewarding, it can also be as intensely crushing as for-profit environments -- with similar and with very different reasons.

My suggestion regarding fit is to start with the qualities you seek, what you wish for your legacy and ask focused questions of potential employers to discern what might work best for you. Research online, request informational interviews with people publicly identified as a stakeholder with the organization, and be true to your own intentions. Good luck!
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