So, you’ve decided it’s time to make a change. You know that you want more purpose in your work and to make a bigger impact with your career, but the question you’re facing now is: “Where do I start?”
In helping hundreds of professionals accelerate their careers for greater social impact, we’ve found that the most successful transitions start with a foundation of self-knowledge and follow a design thinking approach to validate assumptions as you go along.
Our new #SocialImpactCareerGuide series will guide you through each step of the process (with templates and examples) to help you make a change that sets you up to thrive in the long-term. Find all 10 steps of the series below!
Step 0: Set Goals
The simple act of actually writing your goals down on paper and sharing them with a friend will make you more likely to achieve them. We’ve found in the MovingWorlds Institute that the SMART goals format is one of the most effective. Start your career change process by writing down goals using this guide and template.
Step 1: Audit Your Strengths
In helping hundreds of professionals transition their careers for greater social impact, we’ve found that the most successful career changes happen from a foundation of self-understanding. Research has proven that we perform better when our individual strengths align with our job tasks, which also leads to feeling more fulfilled at work, too. That’s why one of the first things we help our Global Fellows do in the MovingWorlds Institute is uncover their unique strengths. Learn what strengths are (and aren’t) along with an interactive template to help you uncover yours in Step 1 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
Step 2: Zero In On Your Purpose
Taken together, your strengths and purpose form the foundation for the rest of your job search, acting as a compass to ensure you’re heading in the right direction to end up somewhere where you can truly thrive. Purpose matters because it’s a key component of meaning, which in turn drives satisfaction at work. Learn more about each of the three dimensions of purpose, along with an interactive template to help you make your purpose statement your own in Step 2 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
Step 3: Shortlist Causes
The third step of a career change to social impact is identifying causes you want to apply your unique strengths and purpose drivers towards. The word “cause” may bring to mind TV commercials imploring you to save the polar bears or feed the children, but in the context of this guide, we use “cause” to represent a much broader spectrum of issues, challenges, and ways to get involved with them. The reality is that social impact isn’t limited to a specific field or organization type; it’s something that can now happen in every sector. Learn how to narrow down your cause areas and think through opportunities to ‘do more good’ or ‘do less harm’ by using then interactive template to help you map your strengths and purpose in Step 3 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
Step 4: Decide on Ideal Workplace Environment
It can be tempting to jump right into researching specific companies, but before you do, first develop a mental picture of the workplace environment that would be the best fit for your unique combination of strengths, purpose, and causes of interest. Your work environment is one of the biggest determinants of your ability to activate these satisfaction drivers, particularly when it comes to autonomy. We all have different preferred levels of autonomy, but generally having too much of it results in feeling overwhelmed, while not having enough of it results in feeling stifled. Learn how much autonomy you personally need to be most successful with the autonomy audit exercise in Step 4 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
Step 5: Choose the Type of Organization You Want to Support
All too often, we see people “running away from something”, as opposed to “running toward something”. To set yourself up for success on this journey, we suggest that you get into a habit of documenting and validating the assumptions you have about the work you want to do, the people you want to work with, and the purpose of the organization you want to work for. Learn the three-phased approach to testing your career assumptions, along with a for-good career validation board template to help you document them all in one place in Step 5 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
Step 6: Find Your Ideal Organization
This is where all of the hard work you put into steps 1-5 really comes together to help you take a more tailored and effective approach to your research based on what you’ve uncovered about yourself. Learn five ways to research and learn about organizations that might be ideal for you, along with an Ideal Organizations Tracking template to help you easily compare them across various dimensions to identify your top choices in Step 6 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
Step 7: Build the Skills & Experience You Need to Earn the Job
For this step, there are two parts: figuring out which skills and experience will actually help you, and then figuring out how to best build those skills so you can prove you are the right candidate for the job. Learn how to identify the qualifications you need using our interactive template plus five ways to start building the experience you need to fill in the gaps in Step 7 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
Step 8: Build the Right Network
No matter what you do, networking is critical to success. A well-developed network can help you secure new business deals, job offers, or connections to other great people. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to take a relationship-based approach to networking that feels – and works – better than the standard transactional approach. Learn how to prepare yourself for effective virtual networking by setting SMART goals and optimizing your LinkedIn profile, along with best practices, templates, strategies, and more to help you develop your network in Step 8 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
Step 9: Fine-Tune Your Professional Resume
Having a clear, compelling resume matters – according to an eye tracking study, recruiters look at your resume for an average of just seven seconds. Learn resume best practices, formatting guidelines, and section-by-section guidance to help you stand out from the crowd and show why you’re the best candidate for the job in Step 9 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
Step 10: Ace the Interview
In this step, we’re focusing on the culmination of all the hard work you’ve done introspecting, researching, and applying for jobs so far: the interview. Learn tips to help you prepare ahead of time, decode tricky questions you’re likely to encounter during the interview, and follow up afterwards – ensuring you’re confident, prepared, and ready to shine – in Step 10 of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide.
A Final Note
The process of changing or transitioning your career involves a series of incremental steps rather than one single leap. Working through the 10 steps above will help you ensure that you’re choosing a path where you can succeed in the long-term, rather than ending up equally unfulfilled and finding yourself back at square one. Looking for more support navigating the transition to more purposeful and meaningful work? Apply to the MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship to join a cohort of like-minded professionals inspiring and keeping each other accountable each step of the way!