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How to Make an Ethical Career Change-Ask the Experts!

Ethical Career Changing

One of the most popular questions we get asked is how to go about making a career change from the corporate sector.  Here we ask five of our experts from the telesummit (many of whom are career changers themselves) to give their top tips for a successful career change.

Mandy Johnson, Director of Partnerships, Change.org


Volunteer for a charity to gain experience and demonstrate commitment to the sector.  Volunteering is a great way to make connections and to explore the different types of organisations you’d like to work for and the roles available.  If you want to transfer into a career in fundraising for instance, then sales and marketing roles from the corporate sector are very transferable.  As a fundraiser in a small charity you’ll be expected to get involved in all areas of fundraising – corporate, community, major gifts, legacies, trusts and street fundraising – whereas in medium and large charities, fundraising roles are very specialist and you would expect to focus on one of these areas.

Alex Swallow, CEO, Small Charities Coalition


Find a mentor!  Mentors are always useful but particularly when moving sectors as they can provide real insights and link you to people who can help in your career.  Social media such as LinkedIn can be a useful tool to find a mentor and very often people will be flattered to be asked.  Network as widely as possible and if you want to get into a leadership position, consider becoming a charity trustee, which will give you the opportunity and responsibility for setting the strategic direction of the charity.

Matt Collis, Business Acquisition Manager, Cancer Research UK


Identify your transferable skills and if you see an opportunity that matches your skills set, then be tenacious about applying for the role (and don’t give up if you don’t get the first job for which you apply!)  Some charities and recruitment consultants may insist that you have experience within the charity sector, however, many charities will be interested in your skills, so try and build relationships widely and clearly spell out your transferable skills and how these match the person specification and job description on any applications you make.

Emma Crompton, International HR Advisor, CAFOD


Get experience!  In the competitive market for international development jobs, you’ll need some direct experience.  Find an internship or consider an administration role in the programmes or humanitarian department of an INGO in the UK to make connections, or volunteer.  Many overseas roles are recruited within country so you’ll need to have direct experience to increase your chances of finding a suitable role.

Chris Butler-Stroud, CEO, Whale and Dolphin Conservation


Probably the most important piece of advice is to plan your career as meticulously as you would any other area of business or project because this is one of the most important areas of your life!   Volunteer to get experience and to network widely to make connections so that when opportunities arise your contacts will (hopefully) inform you and may even recommend you.  Do your research to learn more about the sector, organisations, roles and the skills required and undertake additional study if necessary.  Finally, develop your networks to connect with those already working within the sector.

So there you have the views of our panel of experts and to summarise the common themes – (1) volunteer or become a trustee (2) find a mentor and network (3) understand your transferable skills and match these to the job and person specifications (4) gain experience through internships (5) plan your career as meticulously as you would any important project!


What is I Am all about?

What do we do? We love connecting people in charities, social enterprises and not-for-profits to learn, share knowledge, make meaningful connections and find jobs!  We organise regular social networking and learning events and help people find jobs through our recruitment services.

Looking for work? Check out our vacancies here.

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