It’s a good idea to keep an eye on where your career is going — otherwise, you’ll never end up where you want to be! Are you thinking of making a change? How are you planning to get from where you are to your target opportunity?
As mentioned in my last post, Civic Ventures, a think tank on boomers, work and social purpose, reports 9 million people ages 44 to 70 are already in encore careers (careers AFTER doing something else for a number of years — or their whole lives) that combine personal meaning, continued income and social impact. Another 31 million people, ages 44 to 70, are interested in finding encore careers.
What about you? Are you thinking about what is next? The best advice — for anyone thinking aboutÂ a career change or shift, is to plan ahead. Ruth Wooden board chair of Civic Ventures and former president of Public Agenda, where she is now a senior adviser, offered ideas about how people (especially those of typical retirement age) may take the next, logical steps in their lives and careers.
She explained how a lot of people who want to engage in purposeful work, or to â€œgive back,â€ default to starting their own ventures, because there are so many obstacles: age discrimination, learning how to make a transition after years of doing the same thing and just not having access to clear resources to decide how to fit into an existing organization.
Ruth noted, â€œThis movement is about trying to find other pathways for these motivated professionals â€“ pathways that are not necessarily entrepreneurial, since not everyone wants to go that route.â€ She noted that community colleges offering continuing education programs can be a wonderful entreÃ© for someone who wants to make a career shift to an encore career. For example, in less than a year, many will be able to earn certificates for practical, worthwhile jobs in healthcare and the medical field, or even in education or teaching English as a second language.
What can you do now if you are planning your next step?
Ruth says, â€œIf you have a vision that someday you are going to want to be working in social purpose, start thinking now about it being something you care about. Where do you give money, where do you volunteer â€“ cultivate those aspects of your life now. Even if right now, your involvement is as simple as writing a check for an organization you are passionate about â€“ do it. If possible, volunteer â€“ find your way into the field. Distinguish yourself as different from anyone else based on the skills you know you want to use in your next career and because of your strong interest in the new field. Be on a board, if possible. Consider how you can help out at your church or local school. If youâ€™re interested in education, educate yourself â€“ work in after-school programs, or volunteer to help out at a nearby school. If you are interested in that kind of thing, you are going to have to get going.â€
How to Get Going
No doubt, there’s no time like RIGHT NOW to start thinking about tomorrow. Do you have a new year’s resolution to make a change? Maybe your resolution is to start THINKING about your change?
With the right information and a planned approach, it is possible someone with corporate experience to transition to a job with one of the over 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the U.S. Youâ€™ll want to plan and plot out your future moves in advance.
Marci Alboher is a vice president at Civic Ventures, An expert on career transitions and workplace trends, she is author of One Person/Multiple Careers. She also coined the term â€œslasher careerâ€ to refer to people who canâ€™t answer the question â€œWhat do you do?â€ with a single word or phrase.
Marci offers the following suggestions, insights and resources to help you shift to a non-profit career:
Become a â€œslasher.â€ (e.g. sales rep/literacy mentor). This could play out in two ways. Slashing can help you transition from your current field into a non-profit job. If thatâ€™s your target, Alboher suggests you hold onto your day job while you dip into the nonprofit world on the side (using the suggestions below). By taking the slash approach, youâ€™ll be able to continue earning a living and simultaneously build skills and relationships to help you transition to the non-profit sector.
On the other hand, you may wish to create a permanent â€œslashâ€ career, where you have one foot each planted in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. Either way, follow the advice below and carefully carve out time for each of the sides of your â€œslash.â€
Volunteer in organizations where you have a strong interest and you can create real impact. Donâ€™t just set aside a few days a year to work with Habitat for Humanity, for example. Incorporate high-level volunteer work and make a real effort to be involved in substantive projects that expose you to the field and introduce you to people doing the kind of work you want to do for a living.
Consult. Take on a consulting project for a nonprofit as a way to showcase your skills. If you choose to work for free, make sure youâ€™re building relationships, knowledge, or something else to help you as you try to find a paying job. Non-profits appreciate and seek employees who are passionate about their missions, so it makes sense to identify issues and organizations you may want to work with for the long term.
Meet people. Leverage your social networks to help. Consider using Branchout or BeKnown (Facebook applications) or SimplyHired.comâ€™s application to help you learn where your Facebook friends work. Add your volunteer interests and work experience to LinkedIn via the â€œadd sectionsâ€ tab when you update your profile. Search on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ for groups and people either working for or actively involved in non-profits that interest you.
Get involved in your target sector. Go to conferences or panel discussions. Look for Twitter â€œchatsâ€ about your interest area. Reach out on Facebook and LinkedIn to your friends. Update your Facebook status to let people know when and where you are volunteering. Share information and news about your favorite non-profit organizations and causes via your social media platforms. Subscribe to LinkedInâ€™s newsfeed on nonprofit news. If youâ€™re a good writer, consider authoring a blog highlighting those interests.
Show up. Once you identify organizations that interest you, go to their events and attend to conferences where you might be able to meet people who work in those organizations.
Dig in. Keep up-to-date on whatâ€™s happening in your field. Use social media to identify leaders in the fields that interest you and follow them. In addition to exploring Encore.org, she suggests the following resources for non-profit career job seekers:
Stay tuned for more advice about shifting to a non-profit job — no matter what stage career you are in!
(And, if you’re thinking about making a change — consider a gift for yourself or someone you love — some coaching to get you where you want to go! Once you know what you want to do, I can teach you what steps to take so you don’t have to go it alone!)
If you are in the Atlanta, area, get a taste of my expert advice about social media. I’ll be presenting at the Kennesaw State Universityâ€™s College of Continuing and Professional Education for their Career Training Expo. The event, which will be January 12 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the KSU Center, is free and open to the public. To register, call 770-423-6765.
Stay tuned for even more advice about transitioning to the non-profit sector.
photo by orangeacid