Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Offering a unique value proposition as an employee 26: nonprofits, not for profits and for profits 1

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development, nonprofits by Timothy Platt on September 28, 2013

This is my twenty sixth posting to a series on offering defining value as an employee, and on presenting yourself as the answer to problems faced while doing so (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 311-335 for Parts 1-25.)

I have been writing consistently and repeatedly in this blog about working for and leading businesses. And I have distinguished between for profits, and nonprofits and not for profits throughout that, though I add that I do tend to group businesses that do not explicitly seek to create overall profit together, as much of what I have been writing that would apply to one of them (e.g. nonprofits or not for profits) applies to the other as well. This is at least in part from the way that the two both tend to attract very idealistic and mission-driven people, and both as employees and as outside supporters, and for the way that they tend to follow similar overall business model patterns. For references related to all three basic workplace and business model categories see Business Strategy and Operations and its second page and third page listings for that directory, and Nonprofits and Social Networking.

• When I write about offering unique value as an employee, at whatever level on a table of organization, I often write about what a person explicitly brings to the table.
• But it is exactly as important to consider where they would do this – what table they would bring their skills, experience, drive and enthusiasm to.
• It is at the very least a great deal easier to find and develop a meaningful and satisfying career path if you always, at least wherever possible, seek to find opportunities where the two: what you would offer and where you would offer that, mesh together smoothly.
• That is the topic for this posting, and seeking out good and even best fits that would enable you to be the best that you can be on the job, and for every position that you hold along your career path.

I am going to at least start this discussion from what might be considered the hiring practice fundamentals of businesses and organizations of all three basic categorical types:

1. Businesses and professional organizations hire and take on the responsibilities, expenses and risk of bringing in new employees in order to meet pressing needs that they cannot adequately address with their employees already in place, and where they do not see it as being cost-effective to either outsource or do this work through hired consultants or do without it.
2. So when a business hires and brings a new employee in-house, one of its chief goals is going to be to bring in someone from within their industry, and with all of the required, and even all of the wish-list desired skills and experience – so they can be brought up to speed and cost-effectively contributing their effort as quickly and smoothly as possible.
3. But many skills, and even many of the most crucially important for any given industry, company and position opening, have counterparts in other businesses and even in very different industries, and the core skills requirements for effectively exercising specialty skills are in many cases transferable too.
4. A great deal of value can accrue to a business from hiring more widely than just from within its own industry and its own precise types of business within that. This is particularly true when a hiring company is faced with change and needs fresh eyes and perspectives, and not simply its own familiar tried-and-true as coming in with a fresh face.
5. But there is a pronounced conflict between the requirements of Points 2 and 4 here. A hiring business may need new and fresh ideas and perspectives and it might benefit best from looking further afield than its own pool of successful employees for role models when hiring. But the rapid returns-at-minimal-risk requirements of Point 2 can and usually do dictate not finding and recruiting and bringing in new hires who in fact could bring in those fresh ideas and perspectives needed as that would require hiring less familiar types of employees, with the increased risks that this entails.

I have worked with for profits, not for profits and nonprofits and I have worked with others who have successfully made these transitions. It is possible to do this and to build a fruitful and satisfying career path that bridges these business-type distinctions and barriers. I have also worked with people who have made long and successful careers working entirely within one of these categories, and either with one employer or with a succession of them.

• I see it as important that people in general, understand the dynamics of these options and what would go into transferring between them, if for no other reason than because this affords greater insight into these three options in their own right.

And my explicit goal for the balance of this posting is to offer tools for better and more fully understanding industry and business-specific skills, and general transferable skills, and how to better present what you do more successfully to most effectively serve your needs and regardless of audience.

• Know what you can do, and know that what you most enjoy doing and what you do best.

This is not always obvious to us and particularly when we so often find ourselves focusing on specific hands-on and technical skills, and find ourselves overlooking more general interpersonal and communications, and other perhaps softer skills.

• Even if you start out listing your hard skills, and I do recommend writing this down as a list that you develop over a period of time, be sure to include the soft, people skills that you have too.
• Now think about what goes into each of them, and where you have listed indivisible single skills and where you have in fact listed complex work and experience areas that in fact represent sets of distinct skills. The goal here is to more fully think through and understand who you are professionally and what you can and do bring to the table with you. Job candidates and employees who understand themselves more fully are in a much better position when looking for new job opportunities, working with a business at a position there, or seeking out opportunity for career advancement with a move that for them, would be to their next best work position.
• And if you do find yourself looking for opportunity to cross a divide, for example between for profit and nonprofit, really understanding what you can do and what you do best and enjoy doing best. Really understanding the requirements of the position that you seek out, and knowing how to best present what you can do in terms of transferable skills – in terms that this prospective employer would see as valuable to them, can make the difference in making you their best candidate. With this point, I specifically cite my series: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B when Your Job Search isn’t Working (in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, postings 56-72 for Parts 1-17) and I specifically recommend doing the series of exercises presented in its postings as they collectively comprise a complete strategically planned job search campaign.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will more specifically discuss for profit, nonprofit and not for profit workplaces and finding a best fit to match your skills and experience, your personality and your long-term needs and goals. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and at its first Guide directory page.

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