Post written by Jane Hunt, former inaugural CEO at Fitted for Work.
I am asked regularly to talk with people about careers in the not-for-profit sector and how I crossed sectors to eventually become the CEO of Fitted for Work. Lately these requests have increased to at least two a week. I love my job and I love the sector I work in, so talking about Fitted for Work and careers is not hard for me!
During the conversation, I always look for the moment when the person ‘comes alive’. Usually it is when they are talking about something they really care about, whether it is helping children, animal welfare or working with women. And this is when I am reminded of the fabulous quote by Howard Thurman:
‘Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who come alive’
It’s the same for the women we help get work. The moment they ‘come alive’ after a personal dressing session or in the Transition to Work program we know they’ll make it. For me, the staff and volunteers, helping someone discover what brings them alive is the best feeling in the world.
This leads to my top three tips on transferring to the not-for-profit sector:
1. Align your values with the organisations values. When it comes to moving into the not-for-profit sector the most important thing is to make sure you are driven by the same values as the organisation. Not-for-profit organisations are under-resourced, challenging and you will use your full skill-set! It’s at the most challenging times you will return to your values and confirm why you chose to move into the sector.
2. Be prepared to tell a prospective employer an authentic story about why you want to move into the sector. If it’s about wanting to give back, you might be better off supporting the organisation financially or volunteering. Perhaps it’s a personal experience, or a long held belief that is inspiring the move. Clarify and then create your own story as to why you want to make the change.
3. Look at your skills and how they are transferrable. This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but still quite important. You might work in a particular field in your current industry using certain skills. The job title in your prospective not-for-profit position might be very different to what you currently do.
If someone has helped you to this realisation, keep the feeling going by in turn helping a friend or colleague or a woman at Fitted for Work realise their potential. Finally, good luck! Working in the not-for-profit sector is a challenge but ultimately extremely rewarding as you see the results of your hard work helping make a difference.