One of the most frequent topics we get asked, here at the I Am Group, is how to make a career change from the corporate world into the charity and social enterprise sector. If you’re considering a career change, these are some of the common issues you might like to think about.
What are your values?
A common theme amongst the charity sector culture is that people tend to have a shared set of values and want to make the world a better place. You’ll probably need to carefully think about the type of organisation you’d like to work for, and where you feel you might make a difference. Most religious charities will expect you to have an empathy with their faith, but not necessarily expect you to be a practising member of their faith. Likewise, some animal welfare organisations will expect you to be a strict vegan or vegetarian whereas others will not, but all will expect you to understand and have respect for their mission.
How much money do you need?
Let’s face it, the charity sector doesn’t pay as well as the private or corporate sectors – and there are good reasons for that, not least because of their accountability to the public in how they spend every penny!
Although most people don’t join the sector for the money, you’ll still need to determine what you can realistically afford to live on. Whilst the larger charities tend to pay relatively competitive salaries with some private sector jobs, the smaller and mid-size vary considerably in the salaries they are able to pay.
Is the timing right?
Are you looking to immediately change careers or is this something you might consider in few years’ time? Since changing sectors is not a decision to be taken lightly, you might want to think about becoming involved in the sector as a volunteer or a trustee, in order to gain experience. Start thinking about building networks of useful contacts in the charity sector, and try to find out which type of organisation you’d really like to work for, and how exactly your skills can transfer over.
You might consider a fixed-term contract as a way to get a foot in the door, or a secondment from your current role. Portfolio careers are much more common these days, and you may be able to work part-time for a charity doing something you love, whilst finding another job to pay the bills!
What are your transferable skills?
Skills such as HR, admin, finance, marketing, sales, IT, etc., tend to be very transferable to the charity sector, but if you’re looking at doing something completely different you may need to carefully think about planning how to make a transfer. You might be able to develop new skills in your current role, make a sideways move into a similar position, study for new qualifications or to improve your theoretical knowledge, or volunteer part-time to get relevant experience.
You might also consider coming to our next conference Finding your perfect charity job: quiz the experts on Tuesday 14 May at Westminster Hub. Not only will you have a chance to talk with experts at first hand, but they’ll bring with them a range of opportunities and vacancies. Details and tickets can be found at https://charitycareersconference2.eventbrite.co.uk/