From Corporate to Charity - Are you Ready to Make the Move?
17 April 2014 at 4:43 pm
There’s a growing trend towards people wanting to move from the corporate sector into the Not for Profit sector which delivers some unique employment challenges and opportunities, says Kate Larkin from Beaumont Consulting.
Larkin offers her tips on making the transition work.
As charity recruitment specialists, the team at Beaumont Not for Profit fields 15- 20 calls a week at the moment from candidates looking to make the move from the commercial sector into a charity.
While it is really exciting that this growing sector is attracting interest and more and more organisations within the sector are opening up to the idea of hiring from outside, it is important to educate commercial candidates about the reality of making the move.
What’s the same?
There is often a misconception for people from outside the charity sector that moving from a commercial organisation into a charitable organisation is a good way to take a “step back” and gain a good work/life balance while “giving back” to a cause that means something.
While these sentiments are admirable, this is certainly not the case at all. The workload can be as much if not more demanding. As with commercial organisations, levels of professionalism, success, operational efficiency and culture vary. Organisations need to be competitive, and growth and gaining profile are still challenging.
Donors are like customers, they need love and attention. The day to day work isn’t always about the good cause- as with any job, some of the work can be dull.
What’s so different?
There are also major differences within this sector that a lot of commercial candidates do not fully understand. The influence of the board and sometimes emotional quality of decision making can impact on what gets done. Hours of work are often longer and there is the complexity of working with and managing volunteers.
There are a vast number of stakeholders with varying opinions on what takes priority. And of course there is the salary factor. Quite often, commercial candidates do not fully grasp how much of a pay cut is needed to make the move (even with tax benefits).
So what do you need to make it in NFP and why make the move?
To be successful within this constantly changing and exciting Not for Profit sector requires a certain type of compassion and toughness. There is a constant need to be open-minded and patient!
While a lot of charities see the benefit in hiring from outside the sector and appreciate the corporate acumen that comes with these people, there is a need for softer delivery of ideas and an understanding that often, there are less staff and resources available, so detail and collaboration are critical to success.
But with all the challenges come so many great benefits. The sector is diverse and fascinating.
You multi-task more with less staff which means you get a lot more diversity in your role. You do get ‘goose bump’ moments and your clever ideas add a lot of value not only to the organisation, but the community.
Your influence has a legacy beyond what is does in corporate and you get to work with inspired people on a daily basis who are making a direct impact on a better society.
How to make the move into the NFP sector
Make your application stand out – do your research, make sure you understand the job requirements and the organisation. Make sure you send a full application including a very good cover letter!
If you are asked for Selection Criteria, make sure you answer all of the points succinctly with examples. Customise your CV to highlight relevant experience. Think about following up – keep in mind that the Hiring Manager / HR Manager may not be able to take your call so make sure you have provided all the information you want to get across to them in your application.
Don’t underestimate the value of Volunteer Work- it demonstrates your commitment to working in the charity sector for a particular cause and allows you to develop an understanding of culture and operating styles of charities compared to corporates. It can also often acts as a foot in the door.
Think differently about the skills you already have- think about and break down transferrable skills and be prepared to interpret your skills to a new setting – make it obvious how you will apply your expertise (For example; People Management; Budget/ Financial Management; Business Development; Stakeholder/ Relationship Engagement).
Listen to feedback from hiring organisations too. If you are constantly finding your applications to be unsuccessful based on your sector understanding, consider taking a training course that is relevant to the sector.
Organisations like the Fundraising Institute Australia; UTS – MBA with a community focus; Australian Institute of Company Directors and Australian Institute of Management all offer sector specific courses.
And be patient. Not every organisation will be in the position to look at candidates with no sector experience. That doesn’t mean there isn’t another role just around the corner that is perfect for your skill set!
About the Author: Kate Larkin is the Team leader at Beaumont Not-for-Profit – a specialist recruitment consultancy offering a non-profit, temporary and permanent recruitment service to charities nationally across the areas of Executive Search, Fundraising, Marketing and Communications, Donor Support, HR and Corporate Services, Events, Program Management, Administration, Technical/ Database and Finance.