A lot of people find the balance between their desire to contribute to society and their need to work in the for-profit sector by accepting a role in an organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department. However, since the competition is high for the few choice positions that do exist, it can be difficult to make a break into this type of work, especially when you’re starting out.
So what does it take to hop into the CSR career path? Non-profit experience? A degree? A background in law? Many job seekers ask these questions and they fail to get a proper answer, making CSR one of the most ambiguous career paths to exist. However, there are methods to make the path easier, such as the ones listed below. Check out the tips I discovered that job seekers like you can use to improve your chances of establishing a career in CSR in distinguished organizations:
1. First of all, understand it.
There are many professionals out there who believe that they can simply make the switch from their current careers to CSR with only a meager definition and knowledge of CSR in mind. CSR is a very general term for lots of roles, responsibilities, and activities taken up by organizations—and they are not ALL about philanthropy. Get to know the roles and the ways that organizations are making their mark by “doing good”.
For example, “ethical labor practices” is also a form of CSR. Treating your employees fairly, especially those in organizations that operate in another part of the world, also demonstrates CSR. To carry this out, the company may hire more health and safety officers, or a CSR program manager. The more knowledge you have about CSR the better your chances. It doesn’t necessarily require a specific type of degree. First learn the basics and then delve deeper in the areas that most interest you, so you can equip yourself with enough knowledge to answer those tricky interview questions.
2. Develop a relevant skill-set.
A CSR professional has to learn to be very efficient with given resources, and in some cases will need sound financial or business acumen. While you don’t have to head off to business school to achieve this, identifying ways to gain a strong business set can help you in solving the types of problems CSR tries to solve. Getting involved in a volunteer group, doing pro bono work at a social impact startup, participating in a fellowship, or working with a mentor can be great ways to get started.
CSR professionals should also possess a keen ability to communicate, interpersonal skills, and persuasive skills. You should be able to effectively present ideas, propositions, and impact of CSR efforts to stakeholders and the public. These skills can contribute to getting your foot in the door.
3. Get to know the "fancy" terms.
One other thing that impresses employers is when you’re able to use industry jargon effectively. Business, the social sector, and public policy are all linked to CSR and there are plenty of terms to know in these fields that touch with the subject of CSR. For starters, here’s a helpful CSR beginner’s dictionary by Bmeaningful.
4. Don't forget about networking.
Building relationships can always help you when you’re looking for a job that isn’t particularly easy to find. Talk to people who are already in CSR, people who want to be in CSR, or people who hire people in CSR. Even if they’re not offering you a job, there’s probably a lot you can learn from them and potential job opportunities in the field.
Start by leveraging your own network, personal friends, and people they know. Then slowly move on to people who you would like to know (through networking events, online social media, etc). However, make sure you know what to say and talk about before you get talking. In other words, make sure you prepare for those informational interviews!
Packing on a little bit of experience in a related field before you start interviewing should definitely come in handy. Figure out where you can contribute and get involved! If you’re already working, the first place you should look into is the CSR department of your own organization. Develop an idea for working on a cross-departmental team.
If those options are not available to you, figure out where you can volunteer, intern, or offer your services in organizations that specifically design volunteer opportunities to lead their socially responsible efforts. Organizations such as Net Impact and 350 are dedicated to creating positive and environmental change. There are many others that accept volunteers. Having experience as such organizations can increase your chances of landing a job in CSR.
6. Build your personal brand.
Finally, it’s important to know just how to sell yourself and orient your goals, passion, knowledge and experiences towards your area of interest. This requires knowledge of the job application process and how to make yourself stand out from the competition.
You can build your brand by having an active online presence, effectively using social media and professional online groups, maintaining a blog on a CSR topic that relates to your career area of interest, and developing an online portfolio.
About the Author: Sharen Stuart is an Executive at Dissertation Mall, offering dissertation help in the UK. She’s a multi-talented person having both passion and skills in fields like writing, designing and painting.