Jitasa Nonprofit Blog

Corporate to Community: Supporting Career Transitions

There are a variety of factors that influence career change, and these can vary within generations. For millennials and beyond, career fulfillment ranks highly in the list of things that make a job a great and long term fit. For some, this means a switch from the corporate world to the nonprofit world.

While this can happen at any point in a person’s career, it is often a harsh change for the employee. As a nonprofit organization, you can help ease this transition for your employees.

Hands holding change

Be upfront

The thing about a lot of nonprofits is that employees wear many hats. In the corporate world, this isn’t always the case, and can be very shocking for folks who switch positions. Be realistic about what the job entails, and help your employee see the benefit to being capable of performing multiple roles.

Similarly, be prepared to tell employees or potential employees the real story about nonprofit organizations. Sure, they’re focus isn’t on profit, but they still employ smart, ambitious people. Many employees have formal degrees in science or business, and lots of nonprofit employees maintain great work/life balances. Dispelling myths about nonprofits is key to attracting employees, but once they’re involved, nonprofit life sells itself!

Offer additional incentives

While some nonprofit jobs offer comparable salaries to their corporate counterparts, nonprofit work sometimes comes with a pay cut. But salary isn’t everything--help your former corporate folks by offering more intangible things--paid time off for community service, a fun workplace, family-friendly options for work hours, etc.

Sure, you may not have a personal assistant to take your calls, but as a result, you get to engage more directly with your community, and, while your printer has to be plugged in, you get to do cool things like influence policy in your town. A successful shift from corporate to community has everything to do with perspective.

Cultivate flexibility

Corporate jobs are rarely flexible, which can be difficult for new nonprofit employees to accept. Cultivate an environment that is flexible in a myriad of ways--flexible hours, dynamic policies, the opportunity to try new things. Be understanding when your once-corporate employees balk at the lack of time-tracking software or when meetings get pushed off for client work, and work with them to see the advantage in this sort of passion-driven environment.

Make sure you value job skills

The corporate world may be different, but it is not without its place. Many talented employees emerge from for-profit businesses, and their business experience should not be wasted. While they’ve got to transition, they may be able to offer you some fresh perspective and new ways of doing things that will ultimately benefit your mission.

Nonprofit employees come from all kinds of places and have all kinds of experiences. When both worlds combine, nonprofits can really excel. A little bit of patience and perspective on both sides will ensure a great partnership for all!

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