Selecting a Sector Switcher

With nonprofit hiring on the rise many charitable organizations are considering hiring talent from the for profit sector.  These “Sector Switchers” can be an excellent resource and many training programs exist, such as ESC’s Encore Fellowship Program, to prepare candidates for a seamless transition onto the nonprofit world.

It can be difficult, however, to immediately see how someone with a corporate background fits into a nonprofit position. Language and metrics differ between the sectors and it is not always apparent from a first glance at their resume that skills, experiences, and passions will translate.

Here are tips to quickly pull out the information to see if they would be a good fit in a mission-fueled work environment:

  • Look down. It is very likely that the applicant saved the bottom third of their resume for the “Volunteer Experience” and “Board Membership” sections. These will tell where their passions lie.
  • Look around. Take note of skills they amassed from their time in the corporate world and see how that can be transferred to the nonprofit world. Did they lead a team? Have they built and maintained relationships? Do they have experience communicating with diverse groups?
  • Look away. Don’t bother looking up what internal-level verbiage means. Look for the part the applicant played. For example, instead of becoming fixated on a specific software, look for how it was implemented by the applicant and on what scale.


For an example of a successful sector switcher see this New York Times article about Archie Elam, a New England resident who moved from employment in the business world to working at nonprofit organization with the help of an encore training program.

Two ESC’s Encore Fellows, Jonathan Reuman and Rory Laughna, have also made the sector switch, finding success in the leap from corporate to nonprofit HR and finance, respectively. Read their stories here.

(Image from The 2016 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey,