Evaluating a Career with a Non-Profit Organization | Articles & Tips | WNYJobs.com | Rochester




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 Evaluating a Career with a Non-Profit Organization

By Joe Stein

While some Job Seekers are ambivalent about the ownership situation of their prospective employer, others care very deeply about this topic. This can especially be true in a situation where a person is seeking a position with a non-profit organization.
By definition, a non-profit is when the organization uses surplus revenues to further achieve its goals rather than distributing for profit or dividends payout. Typically, these goals are designed to achieve something for a particular cause, such as a cure, a service, etc.
Generally, Hiring Managers for a non-profit organization are looking for some specific traits when evaluating candidates for an open position. If you are open to or seeking a job with this type of company, then review the list noted below. It will provide you some guidance in some key areas to either stress with the Hiring Manager or for you to personally evaluate when considering the position.
·         How Important Is Compensation to You? – One area for you to evaluate, prior to applying for a non-profit position, is how important compensation is to you. The reason is non-profits will often pay lower in comparison to for-profit companies. If maximizing your salary is your focus, then other organizations may be of more interest to you. Since funding is usually generated by some combination of donations and government funding, revenue can be limited.


·         Are You Passionate About the Mission? – In a non-profit, the work will often take a higher meaning, such as a particular charitable cause. The Hiring Manager will want to hear about how important their mission is to you. If you have a personal, particular reason for wanting to work for this organization, consider your comfort level in sharing this information.  If this is a cause that you have traditionally supported, then working for the organization can provide some real job satisfaction. In most situations, the non-profit is counting on this type of feeling in order to prevent employee turnover.

·      Ready to Do Anything? – In a non-profit, there are very few specialists in the organization. Generally, everyone must be willing and able to pitch in, doing almost anything. It can also help to be very flexible and creative, as it may allow you to be able to get the work done with limited resources.  This can especially be true when the company is small in employee size. The good news is that this type of situation can lead to a great teamwork scenario and some lasting work friendships.


·         Understand the Balance Situation – The work/life balance situation can vary greatly in the non-profit world. In many situations, there is a real focus on balance, and the job can provide a nice situation for you outside of work. In others, due to limited resources, the hours may be longer than expected. It is best to understand your personal need and how this compares to the culture of the company you are looking at. If you know someone who current works for the organization, you can find out details around the typical workday.

·         Learn About the Funding – You will want to determine, prior to accepting a position with a non-profit, your risk tolerance regarding revenue funding. Generally if there are multiple streams of funding, there is less risk to an organization as they don’t rely on a single or limited sources. If the organization is funded from a particular grant, then try to understand the length of that agreement and how likely it will be extended upon expiration. If the primary source of revenue is from the government, then understand that the funding may be subject to the whims of politicians.


·         Do You Have a History of Community Service? – A Hiring Manager will be looking for your history of volunteering.   This will help to convince him or her that giving back is important to you. List your volunteer achievements on your resume so that it is clear to the Hiring Manager. If you have previous experience in a non-profit environment then make sure this is also noted. If you have this particular experience, then you will want to communicate how this was a rewarding time for you. This will show that you not only want to “give back”, but you have a history of “giving back”.

There is quite a bit to consider when seeking a non-profit position. While there are a number of specific challenges with compensation and resources, the work, however, can have an important social impact. At the end of the day, you will have the benefit of knowing that you helped in some way towards the cause and, perhaps, the greater good for society.
As always, best of luck in your job search!