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TOP photoWhile working at a nonprofit organization may be seen as rewarding, it doesn’t usually make the list of best career moves for the up-and-coming business professional. In this post I would like to give you five reasons why working for a nonprofit may actually be an excellent choice for your career.

  1. Experience. Experience is often the currency of the current job market. Due to the large number of layoffs since the recession, the job market has been flooded with job candidates with 10+ years of experience in almost any given role. This makes things quite difficult for the younger working generation since experience is needed to get a job, and a job is needed in order to get experience. So where does a nonprofit organization come in? Given the limited size of many nonprofit organizations, the quality of experience you can get from working for a nonprofit is much better than its for-profit counterparts. Things like project management experience or leadership over a business segment – which are incredibly difficult to come by in Fortune 500 companies – are available in abundance in the nonprofit sector.
  2. Diversity. One of the most troublesome areas for a nonprofit organization can also actually be a strength. Unfortunately there is generally much less money to go around in a nonprofit organization and, as a result, the pay is noticeably lower than comparable jobs in the for-profit sector. This results in the perennial issue of high turn-over in all levels of full-time positions in nonprofits. So where does the benefit come in? The turn-over in positions means more alternative job opportunities for a qualified candidate who has already proven their competence to the organization. Whether you are looking for accounting, marketing, operational, or sales experience you are much more likely to get an opportunity in an organization where there are more frequent job openings.
  3. Upward mobility. Is it possible to read a blog post about career goals without inserting the buzzwords ‘upward mobility’? Due to the same unfortunate reasons for turnover addressed in reason 2., there is a significant amount of potential to move up in a nonprofit and take on additional responsibilities. Not only will there be opportunities to take on projects with more responsibility as your career unfolds, but you will also be able to add additional titles to your résumé.
  4. Job Satisfaction. A traditionally overlooked but very important area of employment is your job satisfaction. What better way to feel that your job is important and valuable than supporting a socially conscious cause? In many nonprofit organizations you will feel like less of a cog in the machine and more like you have a real tangible effect on the world. This, in turn, will likely have a positive impact on your work and lead to an even better professional track record.
  5. Community. Often what can make the difference between disliking and loving a job are your coworkers. Nonprofit organizations tend to attract individuals who are concerned about the values of an organization. While nonprofits can be places of excellent strategic management, agile development, and most strive to offer competitive compensation packages, there is a much greater chance you won’t run into the money hungry amoral Gordon Gekkos of the world who are concerned only with personal income. If you feel it is important to work for an organization with strong values, you are probably going to find many like-minded people in a nonprofit.

So whether you are looking to begin building a career, are looking for a career change, or have found your job at a large for-profit business stagnant, don’t neglect to look at your options in the nonprofit sector. You may find a position that is not only personally fulfilling, but also beneficial to your career in new and unexpected ways.

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