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How to Change Careers from Non-Profit to Corporate

Even if you’ve been in the non-profit sector for decades, a change to the corporate world is not as radical as it seems. If you think about it, all successful organizations—profit-driven or not—need great leaders at the helm and hard-working employees (or volunteers) to handle day-to-day responsibilities like administration, marketing, program development, and finance.

And while non-profit organizations focus on specific goals, missions, or values, corporations also have visions and plans for the future.

If you’re interested in taking the leap, here are a few tips that can help:

Define your goals

Before you begin your job search, evaluate your reasons for changing industries. Are you seeking new challenges? Higher compensation? A more competitive work environment? Evaluate your interests and expectations carefully. This information will guide your career decisions and ensure your happiness in your next position.

Research the market

Once you understand your intentions, research companies that interest you. Just like non-profits, every business has a unique way of doing things and an underlying corporate culture. Read websites, press releases, and articles to gain insight into company practices and reputation.

Position yourself for success

Restructure and revise your presentation to make a powerful impact in the private sector. Think of your résumé as a personal marketing tool, and remember that corporations are especially interested in the tangible contributions that you’ll bring to the business.

Review your accomplishments over the years. Did you raise money? Eliminate inefficiencies? Cut costs? If so, highlight these achievements in your résumé, and use quantifiable details (#, $, %) when possible.

Here are some examples: “Raised $250,000 by creating a cost-effective public relations campaign.” “Increased productivity in the finance department by 20%.” “Developed a motivated team and reduced staff turnover by 10%.”

Bridge the gap in your experience

Create a powerful and concise e-note (a short, emailed cover letter) to showcase a few achievements and explain your career change. Try a paragraph like this: “I’ve been increasing visibility and streamlining processes in the non-profit sector for 10+ years. My career has been extremely rewarding, but I’m tenacious and driven, and I believe my skills are ideally suited for a competitive, high-performance workplace. I’m ready to hit the ground running, and determined to move the needle on your bottom line.”

If you demonstrate that your skills are transferable and your attitude is on track, you’ll be a great candidate for a high-impact corporate role.

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