Self-exploration is a critical first step in a job search, particularly when considering a transition such as a move between sectors. By focusing on self-exploration, professionals can gain clarity on their motivations, appealing aspects of the job, and transferable skills that will enable them to avoid ill-suited opportunities as well as articulate why they are right for jobs they want to pursue, according to the May issue of “Leadership Matters.”
Published by Bridgestar, a nonprofit initiative of the Bridgespan Group dedicated to attracting, connecting, and supporting senior leaders for the sector, the current issue of “Leadership Matters” provides advice and insight into self-assessment, addresses these issues, and presents questions to ask specifically when considering a career move to a nonprofit leadership position. The issue also offers information on career assessment tools.
As part of the self-exploration process, professionals should consider what they are really passionate about. According to a senior nonprofit leader who has hired many “bridgers” between sectors, “The issue of passion really matters…if the passion’s not there, ultimately the cultural fit’s not there.”
According to the articles in “Leadership Matters,” professionals considering a career move should ask:
• What did you like most about your current (or most recent) job?
• What did you find most frustrating?
• What aspects of your current job would you change to turn it into your ideal job?
• What skills do you enjoy using that could be transferred to a new job?
• What characteristics of your current workplace (e.g., size of organization, decision-making style, formal vs. casual culture) and work with your colleagues are most appealing to you?
• What is important to you at this point in your life and what “rewards” would you like to get out of your next role?
For private-sector professionals considering a shift to the nonprofit sector there are additional questions to consider:
• Why do you want to move into the sector?
• What particular issues are you passionate about?
• Which of your volunteer experiences have been most fulfilling? Most frustrating? Why?
• What are the characteristics of your ideal nonprofit job?
• What do you believe your nonprofit work would offer you that you’re not getting in the for-profit sector? Could you meet this need by serving on a nonprofit board or in some other volunteer capacity?
• Have you considered the income you will need? Will the rewards of nonprofit work outweigh the financial opportunity cost of leaving your for-profit job?
• How do you anticipate that work in a nonprofit will differ from your for-profit experience? Will you be comfortable in a resource-constrained environment?
• How flexible are you? Do you have a collaborative working style that is typically favored by nonprofits or are you willing to modify your style to a collaborative one?
• What skills do you have that are transferable to a nonprofit and how can you articulate them during a job interview?
“Leadership Matters” also presents information on self-assessment tools, including a list comprised of the following categories: interest-based, personality and behavioral, and skill-based. To be effective, these tools should be combined with other methods of self-exploration, such as networking, research, soul-searching, and informational interviews.
“While self-exploration includes individual reflection, it is important to include others in the process. This can be accomplished through informal conversations with friends and mentors, informational interviews with nonprofit managers, or meetings with a career coach,” said David Simms, Managing Partner, Bridgestar. “The benefits of including others in the process were reflected in the comments of one bridger, who said, ‘I found it extremely helpful to listen to others’ career path stories, to give me mental models of what my own path might look like.’ This collaboration not only provides important insights to professionals considering a career move, but also is invaluable in helping them build a network of contacts for their job search.”
The self-assessment phase should be part of a larger career transition process that includes research and networking, outreach and interviews, offer negotiation and decision-making and transition to the new role.
“The current issue of “Leadership Matters” is available to Bridgestar members at the Bridgestar site.
Bridgestar (bridgestar.org), an initiative of the Bridgespan Group, is a nonprofit organization providing talent-matching services, content, and tools designed to help organizations build strong leadership teams and individuals pursue career paths as nonprofit leaders. Bridgestar’s goal is to attract, connect, and support senior talent, leading to greater organizational effectiveness and social impact.