Want a fulfilling, stable job you’re passionate about? Then stop looking for corporate jobs, and look at this industry instead.
This is it, Class of 2014. You’ve earned your diploma and walked away from college with your head held high, entertaining thoughts of moving to a big city and finding your dream job. But as the reality of the post-graduate job market sets in, you might find yourself becoming impatient and discouraged, especially after two months of diligently searching for a position that puts your degree to use and coming up empty.
The post-graduate job market can be frustrating, leading to one dead end after another. It’s unsettling that unemployment affects 8.5 percent of college graduates between ages 21 and 25, which is much higher than the national average. It’s even more unsettling that 44 percent of your peers are employed in a position that does not require a degree. (Click here to tweet this statistic.) What was the point of getting one if it’s not going to be of any use?
Are you looking for jobs in the wrong places?
Enough with the doom and gloom, because there is hope – in a place you may not have even considered. Graduates often overlook this sector, even though it’s a viable source for fulfilling, stable careers.
The nonprofit sector is the third largest and fastest growing sector in the country and has experienced three consecutive years of growth during the recession. In Nonprofit HR’s 2014 survey on nonprofit employment practices, 45 percent of respondents across the entire sector indicated intent to hire new staff next year. Positions are as diverse as international affairs and arts and culture. Nonprofits offer something for everyone.
This sector also aligns with the evolving career needs of your generation. According to a 2012 Pricewaterhouse Cooper study, 65 percent of graduates said that making a positive impact was more important to them than making money. If you value promoting social good and want to make a career out of your passion, a nonprofit could be the right fit for you.
How to jumpstart your nonprofit career search
If you’re ready to seek employment in the nonprofit sector, you can jumpstart your career search in several ways. Begin by looking into local nonprofits to determine which organizations near you pique your interest.
Next, take advantage of networking opportunities. Most nonprofit professionals are happy to conduct informational interviews for those curious about the industry. Don’t be shy! These interviews are an excellent way to make industry contacts and learn about open positions in a low-pressure setting.
Volunteering with your favorite nonprofit can also help you figure out if a certain organization is a good fit for you. Through volunteer work, you’ll gain a better sense of how the organization functions and where their resources come from. They’ll also get to know you and your work ethic. Serving on a volunteer organization’s board is another route to gaining experience in the nonprofit sector. While you may take on more responsibility in this position, board service allows you to get acquainted with the business of running a nonprofit, all while making high-level networking connections.
If you’re curious about other opportunities, there are plenty of online resources to help pinpoint your ideal job. Websites like Idealist, Common Good and Nonprofit Opportunities are all good places to watch for job postings. After finding an open position you’re interested in, convey why you’re passionate about that organization in your cover letter. Nonprofits look for candidates who are well-informed and truly believe in their cause.
So don’t move back to mom and dad’s basement just yet, recent grads. With a little creativity and the willingness to look beyond the private sector, finding meaningful work that also pay the bills is easily within reach.
Lisa Brown Morton is the President and CEO of Nonprofit HR, the only human resources firm in the country focused exclusively on nonprofit organizations. Lisa has worked with some of the most prominent nonprofits in the country, from Amnesty International to the Aspen Institute, and is a vocal advocate for the advancement of the nonprofit sector.