Working 9 to 5*

For years, friends of friends have asked me for tips on looking for social impact jobs. Traditionally I’ve done 1:1 calls to talk through things and I’m still open to that with limits on my availability. It’s also occurred to me that I should just write it out loud for whomever may find it useful. Not all of us aspire to start up our own thing; some of us want to work within existing systems, helping them evolve into their next best iteration. So, without further ado, here’s my list of (non-exhaustive) resources.

Foundations: ways to think about your career and job hunt

Job boards:

  • Tom Wein’s compilation of social purpose job boards
  • I learned years ago to keep an email alert from Idealist on at all times, even when I am not actively looking for a job, because I find job-hunting truly sucks so best to not get too out-of-touch.
  • NextBillion: please, ask yourself if YOU are really the person who should be applying to a job in Country X before you get too excited. Savior complexes are real. Current Jane is still remorseful of Past Jane.
  • Social Enterprise Jobs Google Group: same disclaimer as with NextBillion
  • Function-specific job boards and newsletter: too many to list out but I’ll just say I’ve almost never been disappointed when I’ve searched the Internet for supportive communities who have coalesced over a shared principle (or more!) I’m in many data/tech/climate/civic/activism-oriented communities and they often have not only job listings but people willing to share insight on how the dumpling really is made in the shop.
  • Local government job boards, including public universities: the government’s job is to represent the people and their best interests. In most places, still quite mixed results in my opinion but nevertheless, we need more idealists in government. (h/t Francis for pointing out this initial omission and nudge to include)

Other resources:

  • Your personal board: I’ve found that at any given time in my life, I have 5-6 close friends with whom I feel comfortable discussing career transitions and perhaps also other meaningful life changes. These are my “personal board”, advisors, mentors, peers, guides. Some I’ve known essentially my entire life. Others I’ve only just met. Who are yours?
  • A professional coach: like a therapist, if you find one you jive with, you’ll be able to learn an incredible amount about yourself, your principles, your superpowers and kryptonite, and how you engage with the world. It’s all about conscientious leadership and deliberate introspection. For women in the social impact space, check out The Coaching Fellowship.
  • Local elected officials: I know, seems a weird one to add. But I’m serious: pay attention to your local (town, city, state) politicians and ask yourself whose leadership style you resonate with the most. You might be surprised by what you learn.

Other considerations

  • How much can I afford to not make right now? This number changes depending on your life circumstances. Do your future self a favor and don’t feel guilty about needing money to survive.
  • What am I trying to learn from this experience? Before every new role or job I take, I define a few key questions that I hope to answer by the time I move on
  • What are my deal-breakers? Everyone has them, and they’re different for each of us. For example, I’ve found that I can’t stay long at places where I don’t have room to grow in responsibility, where there aren’t open communication lines across an entire organization, and where there is a lack of empathy on display to the point I feel unsafe.

*In tribute to Dolly Parton. I also recognize that having a 9am to 5pm work schedule on the “weekdays” of your culture is a privilege. I have family who have worked different hours and I understand how challenging it can be to shift your natural waking and productive times to meet the schedule of your employer. Thank you to all those who work the different shifts, and I hope we reach the more inclusive economy where everyone can match their particular sleep schedule with their work schedule.

Published April 28, 2021. Edited May 3, 2021 to add government job boards after an email conversation.