In my work as a career and transition coach, I help clients clarify and successfully execute their most effective strategy for transitioning between sectors (Corporate, Entrepreneurial, or Non-Profit). In the course of my work, a client often expresses the desire to apply his/her functional, transferable, or entrepreneurial skills in an environment that gives back to the community and that is more “fulfilling and rewarding.”
The social entrepreneurial movement is offering increasing opportunities for these career changers. This month, we are featuring a guest article by Commongood Careers, a local organization that supports nonprofits and social enterprises with their recruiting and hiring needs. Feel free to visit their Web site for additional information:
Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.
Guest Article: Socially Entrepreneurial Venture
There are over 1.5 million organizations that make up the social sector in the United States. Increasingly within that sector, a trend of fast-growing, high- impact organizations is emerging: a movement of Socially Entrepreneurial Ventures (SEVs). Bringing opportunistic mindsets and innovative approaches to address social issues, these organizations aim to create deep and sustainable change on the widest scale possible.
This article takes a closer look at SEVs, and what is takes to pursue a career in this sector.
What Is a Socially Entrepreneurial Venture?
In the business world, an entrepreneur is someone with the vision and leadership to identify a market need and respond with a new product or service, ultimately intending to make a profit from the venture. Similar principles are true of social entrepreneurs, with the key differences that SEVs: (1) address a societal need, such as illiteracy; and (2) primarily measure results in social impact value, such as increased literacy rates, as opposed to profitability.
In general, SEVs:
- Deliver a powerful model for change in a field related to social development,
- Grow and develop at an ambitious pace that is driven by a moral imperative,
- Leverage best practices of management, often from the corporate sector, and
- Value knowledge highly and take a creative approach to human capital.
While SEVs are predominantly incorporated as not- for-profits, there are also many LLC’s, S-Corps and C-Corps that are completely socially driven. SEVs are ultimately defined by their commitment to a social problem, not by their tax status.
The Social Entrepreneur’s Movement
The increasing prevalence of social entrepreneurs is part of an exciting movement that is being driven by a number of factors, including, among others:
- Government privatizing social services over the past 50 years
- Baby Boomers returning to socially-focused work in early retirement
- Boomers raising their children (Gen-X/Y) with a greater sense of social responsibility
- Computers and the Internet broadening global awareness and connectivity
- Venture philanthropy creating a funding stream to cultivate SEVs
- Corporate scandals increasing cynicism and scrutiny of business practices
- World events like 9/11 and the Indian Ocean tsunami leading many to question “purpose” and “fulfillment” at work
As a result of these factors, the concept of “social responsibility” is spreading and broadening. Both people and practices from the corporate sector are crossing over to nonprofits, leading to higher salaries and new management systems. Universities now offer more programs around citizenship and nonprofit management. These systemic changes illustrate the emergence of socially entrepreneurial careers and create the paths to pursue them.
SEVs: Challenges and Benefits
There are unique challenges and benefits to working at an SEV. Fast-paced, dynamic cultures can result in difficulties around “work/life balance” and higher “burn-out” rates. In an entrepreneurial culture, business models can sometimes be hastily implemented without the required expertise or resources. On the compensation front, salaries are becoming more and more competitive with the corporate sector; however, there is still generally a lower ceiling on total earning potential.
For individuals motivated to work in this sector, however, such organizations provide stimulating and rewarding environments for young professionals. Collaborative work cultures comprised of like-minded, mission-driven colleagues can inspire personal fulfillment and satisfy a drive to positively impact society. Another benefit is accelerated career paths- flatter hierarchies and small senior teams result in faster career trajectories and earlier access to strategic roles.
Four Aspects of Successfully Seeking a Job at an SEV
(1) PLANNING: Know What You Want and What’s Out There
- Describe your ideal organization (geography, mission, culture, size).
- Define your ideal position (function, department, responsibilities, compensation).
- Familiarize yourself with the field by looking at online resources (Idealist , Guidestar, Foundation Center), publications (Stanford Social Innovation Review, NonProfit Times, Nonprofit Quarterly), foundations (New Profit Inc., Venture Philanthropy Partners, Social Venture Partners, Edna McConnell Clark, Ashoka), and award programs (Fast Company, Root Cause Institute, Manhattan Institute).
(2) NETWORKING: Build Relationships and Knowledge
- Request e-mail introductions from personal contacts to organizations of interest.
- Conduct informational interviews first-look for knowledge, not a job!
- Attend career fairs, volunteer, join boards, start consulting, initiate internships.
- Work with a search firm like Commongood Careers or Bridgestar.
(3) APPLYING: Find and Apply for the Best Jobs
- Start networking ASAP, but do not start applying more than 1-2 months before you will be available-SEVs look to hire immediately, not months in advance.
- Stay organized and motivated, and be patient. Finding the perfect job takes time.
(4) MARKETING: Know Your Audience and Position Yourself
- In your cover letter, explain why you are passionate about the mission, focus on the transferable skills you bring, and address how your experience fits with the requirements.
- With your resume, stick to relevant experience, stay under 2 pages, and prevent typos.
- For the interview, research the organization; prepare intelligent questions; dress professionally; reiterate why you are passionate about the mission; and interview with high energy, confidence, and a positive attitude (SEVs want passionate self- starters).
For more information about pursuing socially entrepreneurial careers, visit Commongood Careers at www.cgcareers.org.
This article was written by Commongood Careers and is published under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommerical-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
Commongood Careers supports nonprofits and social enterprises with their recruitment and hiring needs in order to increase the capacity, effectiveness, and social impact of the sector. Founded by nonprofit professionals, Commongood Careers offers personalized, engaged services to jobseekers and organizations throughout the hiring process, as well as access to a wealth of knowledge about nonprofit careers. To learn more, visit www.cgcareers.org .
Aspirations! is written and compiled by Randi Bussin, a career counselor and entrepreneurial consultant with 25 years of experience of corporate, nonprofit, and entrepreneurial expertise. She leverages her extensive background to help mid-career professionals and entrepreneurs clarify their aspirations, develop the “big-picture,” and set realistic goals in designing a career that reflects their personal values and passions. Through focused coaching, she helps clients make steady progress and achieve their career goals.
If you would like more information on our services, please feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for our newsletter.