How to Use Not-for-Profits to Land a Killer Job

by Darwin on August 21, 2012

Charities probably won’t make you rich any time soon. Sure, John Seffrin, the CEO of the American Cancer Society certainly isn’t hurting with his $2.2 million salary. But for us average people, charities are just a way to give back.

Or are they?

Opportunity in Giving

I don’t mean to remove the good from a charity. Charities do amazing things all the time – curing diseases, providing hope for people who are terminally ill, and generally working for the “greater good” that we all like to see.

But there is still plenty of room to be selfish.

I’ve spent the better part of the last year networking with people in my industry. What I’ve noticed is that the best way to land a $100,000 job out of school isn’t on LinkedIN, or on CareerBuilder. The best way to land a better job is to give back (or to use the free tools on TheLadders like me for 6 Figure Job info).

Be the Unpaid Executive

A small not-for-profit in my area reached out to me to be on their “awareness committee,” a group of people that get together once a month to discuss high-level marketing strategy. As I’m interested in the kind of marketing they want to roll out, and because I’m in the demographic they want to target, it was a match made in heaven.

I won’t be compensated. I’ll actually have to pay for lunch out of my pocket each month, but let’s just see what $10 and 2 hours a month really gets me:

    • C-Level exposure – The people on the various committees and board are very powerful people. They’re high-up executives in Fortune 500 companies, hiring managers at securities firms, lawyers in well-known local law firms, doctors, and even entrepreneurs of some of the largest private companies in my state. Seeing as I’m a strong believer in the idea that you are the average of the five people surrounding you, hanging out with the right crowd certainly has its financial rewards.
    • Opportunity to prove a skillset – Walking the floor at a cocktail party is one thing. Actually working with people on a project is another thing entirely. Working with other people gives me a shot to prove that I am a competent person and skilled worker in front of the very people who make very big hiring decisions.
    • More chances to give back – Working with one not-for-profit is a good way to work with many more. Most not-for-profit by-laws require that board members are “drafted” from the lower committees in the organization. The longer you stick around, the better the chance that you can do more and further network with other people within the same organization or with other organizations in the area. It’s a snowball effect.
    • Resume juice – I’m young. My resume is pretty short, pretty simple, and with the exception of a scholarship, pretty average. Having some experience working with a well-known local brand (even a not-for-profit) is a great way to have positive “filler” on my resume.

I really think the days of the job listing are long gone. First, no one reads newspapers (or the classifieds). Secondly, placing a job opening on Monster or CareerBuilder or any other site is a great way to get thousands of unqualified people knocking on your door for a job. Finally, it’s becoming costlier to fire people who don’t live up to expectations. Employers want to know what they’re getting before they make a commitment.

So, for me and others, giving back seems like the best way to help yourself. It does take time, and commitment, but the networking is worth every bit of the effort and energy required of a volunteer.

If you can help make the world a better place – and make your career a little bit better in the process – why not do both?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents August 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I think most people who work in non profits are dedicated to the greater good of the organization versus the pay. Very few charities have those salaries. I would guess less than 50 charities!


Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey August 24, 2012 at 5:20 am

I know some non-profit organizations that offer good allowance to volunteers and staff. I admire people who work for not-for-profit because their dedication for the advocacy is beyond imagination.


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