I’m in the process of revising my resume and your advice is blowing my mind because it makes so much sense. Thank you for pointing things out and being funny about it.

Here’s my question: Your advice seems focused on the business world and I work in the nonprofit sector. How different are these worlds, really? Are the same recommendations transferable to those of us working at relatively small nonprofits? There is so little room for growth in most of the positions I come across, but the only other option I can discern is to job hop. How would you advise young twentysomethings to advance their (my) nonprofit career?

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7 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Why do you need to work for nonprofits? I think you can do good wherever you are in the world. So you may as well find opportunities for growth and financial success. It’s myopic to think the only meaningful work is nonprofit work.

    That said, the career advice is all the same.

    Here are some posts for you:

    Make your work more meaningful

    We overestimate the gap between nonprofit and for-profit jobs

    Lines blur between non-profit and for-profit workplaces

    Penelope

  2. ru
    ru says:

    I went from corporate to non-for-profit with a corporate culture. I thought there would be huge difference, and there isn’t. I have another friend in NFP too and she has the same thought as you do.

    In fact, I got the job 3 months after I revamped my resume based on some of Penelope’s resume writing tips.

    To get the most out of job hop, don’t apply for the same position that you do now, elsewhere. It’s tempting to do the same role because it’s comforting. I almost took a new job that I knew I could do. In the end, I applied and stuck to only those ones where I knew the work would be interesting but unknown territory.

  3. blazingsuth
    blazingsuth says:

    I had the same questions about how to translate the advice into a non-related industry/sector. It turns out that while some of the advice is industry specific, almost all of it can be applied to every industry out there. Initially, I wasn’t able to make use of her advice to build a personal brand through blogging/twitter/etc; however I have since found a way to that in a way that is accepted by my industry. It has been amazing for my career!

  4. Jen
    Jen says:

    One of the reasons there is so little room for growth at non-profits is because the shoestring nature of operations often mean many jobs are rolled into one. To advance in most organizations you need to transition from a generalist to a specialist. I’d take the element of your job that is most valuable and position yourself as a specialist in that area. That will make you more valuable to all employers.

    And Penelope is right. You can “do good” in any job. Most mid-size and larger for profit companies have outreach initiatives designed to give back to their community and industry. You can still touch a lot of lives without limiting your professional growth to the available non-profits in your area.

  5. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    “To advance in most organizations you need to transition from a generalist to a specialist.”

    This is true. But specializing is terribly boring. If you are lucky enough to find yourself occupied in “many jobs rolled into one,” you probably shouldn’t worry about advancing – you already have a great position.

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