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Career Change for Social Impact—Our 11-Step Guide to Finding More Purpose in Your Work and Making the World Better with Your Career

Craig Zelizer

April 29, 2019

This is a sponsored post on PCDN.

Mark Horoszowski Developing global leaders. Building more responsible companies. Empowering social enterprises. Promoting #Experteering.

If you don't love your job, you're not alone: 87% of the global workforce is not engaged. But there is a case for optimism, here. According to Deloitte's latest report on Human Capital Trends, 77% of workers are expecting their companies to increase their social impact, and even the most traditional institutions are evolving to become socially responsible.

(This article was originally published on the MovingWorlds blog on March 5, 2019)

This means two things. First, your current employer might be evolving to offer you a more fulfilling career opportunity if you're willing to look for it. Secondly, there are a growing number of opportunities in the market to find purposeful work.

Opportunity is everywhere when you know how to look, and that’s what you’ll learn how to do in this guide.

My goal in writing this is simple: I hope to inspire you to get started on your journey to more purposeful work, even if you don't know exactly where it will lead. As Steve Jobs advised in his famous commencement address:

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever."

But I think "trust" is too soft here. Trusting and thinking won't get you anywhere. You have to take action. Do something. Do anything. Take a first step, even if you don't know where it goes.

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Here are 11 Steps You Can Start Taking Now

(And if you need more inspiration or support at any of these stages, check out our free career chage for social impact e-guide)

1. Audit your strengths

Figure out what makes you come alive (not just what you're good at). Use assessments, friends, and professional colleagues to find the things that strengthen you, and try and stay away from things that you might be good at, but that weaken you.

2. Zero in on your purpose

Purpose is not a cause — it's what gives you energy while you work. Read The Purpose Economy, use the tools and research created by Imperative, and do a self-audit on the type of work that makes you feel a deep sense of fulfillment and belonging.

3. Shortlist the causes you want to impact

Some of us care about one cause while many of us are passionate about multiple causes. Shortlist the ones you care the most about and write down how and where you want to make a difference in the world, regardless of what your next job is.

4. Choose the type of organization you want to work in

You can find purposeful work and make the world better in any sector (here's a guide to doing less harm and more good regardless of where you work). The goal for you now is to figure out what type of environment works best for you: Nonprofit? Social enterprise? Public sector? To find out more about each type, research things like Glassdoor Reviews, annual reports, and potential second or third degree connections in your network who might be willing to sit down for a coffee chat with you. Once you have more information about the different options and your own working style, you can figure out where you can do your best work.

5. Decide on workplace and team environment

Some of us like to work on teams in open floorplans. Some prefer individual work in offices. Some don't care, and others want to work remote. Which will sustain you? Similar to step 4 above, you need to get out of your seat and go see different places, perhaps by volunteering, to see where you will feel comfortable.

6. Find your ideal organizations

Search for the type of organizations that lie at the intersection of your strengths, need for autonomy, purpose, and cause drivers, while also enabling the type of work environment you cherish — the things you just listed above.

7. Build the skills you need to earn a job

Now that you know where to go, figure out what skills, experience, and knowledge gaps exist on your resume. Take steps to fill those through online learning platforms, university certification courses, and other professional development programs.

8. Get experience

There are many different ways to get experience, so try to think outside of the box. You could gain experience by volunteering, schooling, job-shadowing, board service, and even traveling if you’re spending your time productively. Take a few steps outside of your comfort zone to get the experience you need to develop your skills and confidence, while also helping improve your network and resume.

9. Build the RIGHT network

Strategically build your networking by "giving" more than you take. Adam Grant has great tips for this. And here are some thoughts on how to learn to love networking.

10. Fine-tune your resume and LinkedIn profile

Adopt best-practices for your resume and public-facing social media sites, like LinkedIn.

11. Ace the interview and negotiation

Use well-documented tips to nail your interview and prepare for a negotiation.


Need more guidance? Check out our free downloadable guide or join our social impact + career acceleration program.

You have one life, and you'll spend more of it working than anything else. Yes, change is scary. But as Ziglar would say,

"Making a big life change is pretty scary. But know what's even scarier? Regret.

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