Many people want to make a difference, but turning good intentions into tangible impact can be hard. Net Impact is an accelerator. We focus on preparing people to build their skills and find their path to make a difference through their careers.
With input from career experts and industry professionals, we've developed the following six-step process designed to help you land an impact job.
Step 1: Reflect
What causes are you passionate about?
On the flip side, issues that make you angry or upset can also offer a path to making change.
What do you value in a job?
Do you care most about salary or prestige? The ability to make an impact on a larger community? Or maybe work-life balance is most important to you.
What type of work energizes you?
Think about the activities that make you lose track of time or provide a deep sense of satisfaction. This can be a good starting point for thinking about what job function might be best-suited to you.
Echoing Green has developed some additional questions for self-reflection and self-assessments such as MBTI can provide useful insight as well. Many schools’ career centers can provide access to these resources and assistance in interpreting the results.
Step 2: Explore
Here are some places to start:
- Browse our Impact Career Profiles to access overviews of impact fields popular among Net Impact members.
- Use social media and online tools like LinkedIn to identify people with interesting jobs and career paths.
- Learn from purpose-driven CEO's on how their purpose drivers have inspired and defined their careers with Imperative and FastCompany's CEO Purpose Series.
Step 3. Target
Ultimately, you should be able to describe your target in one or two sentences with key examples. Contrary to popular belief, being flexible and open to everything is likely to decrease your chances of honing in on something great and make it difficult to make a decision.
- Geography: Do you want to be in a city? If so, which city? Want an international experience? Where?
- Issue: What problem do you want to solve? For whom? Saying “I want to help companies be more sustainable” is still too vague. Narrow it down until you can say “I want to help consumer product companies be more sustainable by improving packaging design.”
- Industry: Is there a particular industry that intrigues you? Not sure? Go back to the Research stage. Read Net Impact’s Impact Career Profiles and talk to additional people and get a sense for the flavor of their industry to see if it’s appealing.
- Type of organization: Do you get energized by start-ups and new ventures? Or are you more comfortable in a large, established company with systems and processes in place?
- Function: What kind of skill-set are you interested in building? Do you like influencing people through language? Communications may be for you. Enjoy big picture thinking? Perhaps you should seek out a strategy role.
Step 4. Engage
Engage with your current network and talk to others outside your network working in roles aligned with your target. If you are a Net Impact Chapter member, reach out to others in the Net Impact community to connect with social impact professionals and peers. Learn five tips to help navigate your next networking event with ease. Surface relevant contacts through Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media channels. These people will be critical for revealing opportunities that may not be posted online. This is known by some as massive structured networking, but we think of it as simply building relationships. These relationships can help you with your search – and will remain part of your network for years to come.
Use these conversations to learn more about others’ jobs, which will help you confirm (or adjust) your target and signal that you’re interested in their field. Don’t ask for a job outright, but leave a great impression and request that they keep you in mind if any relevant opportunities come across their desk. Ask if they’d be willing to introduce you to others you might speak with as part of your learning process.
You should spend about 80-90% of your time connecting to people and only 10-20% of your time applying to online job postings. Even if you find an interesting posting, see if you can also speak with someone in the company. Most positions are filled through warm contacts (as opposed to cold calls), so your chances are much better off if you have a connection within the hiring company.
Step 5. Prepare
After all your self-reflection and research, you should be well-positioned for your interviews, but there is still work to do to prepare. Before you dive into the preparation, make sure to congratulate yourself for being asked to interview. Acknowledging the small wins along the way is important to staying motivated during what can be a long process.
- Review your self-assessments and make sure you can articulate how the position aligns with your interests, skills, and passions – and your personal brand. Be prepared to provide examples that establish authenticity and demonstrate you can succeed in the role.
- If you’ve spoken with someone who works where you’re interviewing, let them know you’re being considered for a position and ask for their advice.
- If you’re fortunate to receive multiple offers, consider listing out the various elements that are important to you in a position and ranking each opportunity to see how each one aligns with these desired job elements.
Step 6. Perform
The best way to guarantee future job search success is to excel in your current job, but there are also some other good practices to keep in mind.
- Update your resume regularly (at least every six months) and document your accomplishments so you can make sure to capture all that you’ve done in your job.
- Build in time to reflect on whether your job is still satisfying to you and whether your interests, passions, and values have evolved.
- Maintain the great network of contacts you built through your informational interviews by connecting with them on LinkedIn, making sure to share relevant articles and information, or just dropping them a note to say “hi.” If you decide it’s time to move on, you won’t need to dig out the old spreadsheet and remind them who you are again.
- Read 10 things you can do every day to build your career.