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Finding Jobs in This Economy: Nonprofit Board Experience Can Pay Off

In this tough job market, business executives with nonprofit board experience can be at an advantage in getting jobs in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. There are three values to having served on boards:

  1. contacts – a broader and more diverse network of relationships
  2. reputation – people who can vouch for you, especially in terms of how you handle yourself in group dynamics among people of various backgrounds and perspectives
  3. experience – leadership experience if you had a leadership role, and basic governance experience – especially now when people are understanding better than ever the important role of boards

Nonprofit board experience can also be a bridge to a job in the nonprofit sector. According to the Urban Institute, the nonprofit sector accounts for 8.3% of wages and salaries paid in the U.S. There is a new awakening among people who hire for nonprofit leadership positions that business executives can bring great talents to bear; this is also a time when accomplished business executives are realizing that there are exciting job opportunities in the nonprofit sector.

But I am seeing that a key element that distinguishes the candidates who ultimately win the jobs is nonprofit board experience. The board work shows both a history of interest in nonprofits as well as exposure to the nonprofit universe that functions with very different incentives and market forces.

So much for the old saying that “no good deed goes unpunished!” In this case, you can do well by doing good.

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