Welcome to the sixth installment of our #SocialImpactCareerGuide. This is where things start to get more real, and more fun!
In this post, we will walk you through the sixth step of our social impact career change process: honing in on specific organizations that would be an ideal fit for you.
This posts builds on the previous five steps, and will help you identify the organizations that are at the intersection of you being able to:
- Put your strengths to work and continue developing mastery over them
- Find greater purpose in your work and the company’s mission
- Work towards causes that energize and motivate you
- Work within a team environment and organizational structure that meets your autonomy needs
As you can see, 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.
How to Find the Best Places to Work
Success at this step is all about doing your research and getting conversations started. Below are five suggested ways to research and learn about organizations that might be ideal for you:
1. Look at job boards
Job boards are a great source of information about both potential opportunities and the companies offering them. While it can be exhausting, there is a growing number of job boards that are becoming more and more niche. Try to find job boards specifically related to your area of interest, like tech for good or sustainability as a couple examples. This list of the 70 best places to look for social impact jobs in 2021 is a great place to start!
Ask your friends, family, and colleagues a series of thoughtful questions that will help you identify organizations you may have never heard of. Instead of asking “what company should I work at?” consider asking trusted people in your network questions like:
- Who is doing the most important work related to (cause)?
- What place would you most likely see my purpose of ___ being valued?
- What places do you think would honor my autonomy drivers of ____?
- How do you think my strengths/mastery of ___ would most benefit an employer?
- Can you name some organizations in our city/state that are doing innovative social impact work?
It is likely that they will be able to provide new suggestions you may not have thought of or even heard of, leading you down a new path of research. Particularly if the person you are talking to knows you well, even if they do not have the answer, they are more likely to introduce you to someone else in their network who can help you.
3. Leverage LinkedIn to “Reverse Engineer”
Find people on LinkedIn who have careers that you want. Look at their profiles. Where have they worked in the past leading up to their current role? What groups are they part of? What kind of articles do they post or share? The content that people share on LinkedIn can reveal a lot about their mindset and priorities, so if you find someone whose perspective you resonate with, ‘follow’ their profile to stay in the loop on future updates.
Did you know that 85% of jobs are filled through networking? Expanding your professional network is a great way to learn about opportunities that may not even be publicly advertised. Joining groups, either in-person or online, related to your area of interest is a great way to meet others who you can learn from. You can find in-person networking events on Meetup.com, through your local social enterprise alliance, and by researching other local professional groups.
When it comes to virtual networking, LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools because you can see who the people you already know are connected to. The people you already know and are connected with directly are your first-degree connections, and the people that they are connected to are second-degree connections. According to psychologist and author Adam Grant, these second degree connections can be as powerful as your most trusted friend (and more likely to give you a fresh perspective, rather than redundant information). Here is an email template to help you make the ask for introductions.
Whether you are networking online or in-person, remember to be strategic in developing these relationships by giving more than you take.
5. Make a List and Keep It Updated
To help you keep track of the organizations you come across through the methods above that you are most interested in, we created a free tracking template, which you can access here. For each organization you identify, you can track it by adding it to this list. The fields in the template, such as areas of alignment and questions to follow up on, will help you document the key details which will help you analyze which organizations you’re ultimately most interested in.
Staying Updated on New Opportunities
Once you have a list of organizations,, you can track them by adding them on social media, following them on LinkedIn, subscribing to their newsletter from their website, and also searching for the organization’s career page, which will often provide an email and/or RSS subscription option.
Let’s use an example to demonstrate. Imagine that your strengths are around communications and relationship building, your purpose is bringing people together to affect systems-level change, you have a high need for autonomy and are passionate about the cause of climate action.
Through conversations with friends and colleagues, your friend Alex suggests looking into an innovative social enterprise called The Seabin Project. You go to their website to research further, and see that it could be a potential fit. In particular, the community activation and educational pillars of Seabin’s work would align well with your strengths of communication and relationship building, as well as your purpose of bringing people together to affect systemic change.
There are also some questions you still have after reading through the materials available online, like whether there’s a current need for communications support, details about Seabin’s scale-up strategy, and whether the team operates remotely.
You can then record your observations in our ideal organizations tracker like this:
Repeat this process to create a new entry in your tracking spreadsheet whenever you come across a new potential organization through researching job boards, asking friends and colleagues, reverse engineering on LinkedIn, or networking. By keeping all of your research in one place, you will be able to easily compare them across various dimensions to identify your top choices.
A final note
There is no single ideal organization out there for you – there are many possible places where you can make an impact, grow your strengths, and tap into your purpose. To increase the odds of finding meaningful work, it is a good idea to build and maintain this list. As you go through this research phase, try to remove the pressure to find “the one” and instead remain open to possibilities. Even if you are not completely sure about an organization, if it sparks your interest, be sure to add it to your list because you can always pare your list down later. Plus, the more potential organizations you add, the more likely you are to notice patterns in the type of organizations that align best with your unique qualities, which will inform future research.
Get started building your list, and if you need more support building your network and navigating your next career move, apply to the MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship.