Work For Impact

Social Impact Jobs: What We Wish Everyone Knew About

When you think of the phrase Social Impact Job, what comes to mind? Possibly volunteering in a foreign country? Or perhaps it’s working for a new company focused on solving an issue of the world? Maybe it’s a role in the community, focusing on the lives of ordinary human beings? Well, all of these would be correct, but it goes much further than that. 

Today we’re going to highlight all the parts of social impact jobs and careers, so you can find the role, career or remote social impact job that suits you best, inside and out. 

Careers with Impact

Having a social impact career doesn’t mean you have to work for a non-profit. Amazingly, it’s more of a spectrum of the impact that can be approached from 100’s different angles. Any career can have an impact if you know what you want to achieve before you start searching.

Most importantly, jobs for a cause and Social Impact jobs are more about you putting your innate talents, knowledge and skills to work and in a way that is aligned to your purpose. Often, people will put this into two categories.

  • Do Less Harm, where your work focuses on reducing or removing the negative impact of a company, event, practice or process.
  • Do More Good, where you add more positivity to the world to make it a better place, i.e. solving a problem.

Sometimes you might find your work does both or is more focused on one. We want people to know that both are important in the process of creating a better world.

Social Impact Levels within the Organisation

The next thing worth keeping in mind is there are many ways to interpret how much of your career or job is focused on a Social Impact issue or cause. A good way of thinking about it could be:

  1. Social Impact as a ‘Major’ aspect
  2. Social Impact as a ‘Minor’ aspect
  3. Social Impact ‘Engaged’ role
  4. Social Impact’ Supporting’ role

In the first case, this means solely doing a job working for a social enterprise or non-profit, for example, where the impact of their work is a significant aspect of the roleFor the second case, any company they work for must have a strong social impact ethos and environmental programmes, to which the company regularly aligns its actions. This can be considered a minor level approach, as the company will have other goals it’s focused on.

On the engaged level, this is more people-focused, which is for those who work for companies with opportunities to get involved with social impact projects outside of their everyday main roles, i.e. social impact volunteering projects or awareness-raising community groups. Something the company encourages and supports but isn’t the main mission of the company. 

Lastly is the support level. Those are the people driven by purpose but are focused on working with purpose-driven, social-minded businesses. These remote social impact jobs are often filled by freelancers wanting to make a difference but not looking to stay with one company long-term. As they rather focused on their own impact. 

Example – BCG

  • BCG looks to be one of the most positively impactful companies in the world. They do this by driving sustainability transformations, creating an aligned team, and building a scalable social business. They drive most of their social impact through their client work in the private sector. They also use their global network of social impact partners, high-level cross-sector relationships, data and analytics tools, deep expertise in driving large-scale change, and understanding the ecosystems surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals to complete the picture.

Social Impact Job Opportunities

But what social impact job opportunities are there available? We hear this question a lot, and the areas in which you can make an impact only grow by the day as we discover new ways to improve our world. A great way of learning 17 of the most pressing issues of our modern world can be found on the UN’s sustainability goals page.

This is a fantastic resource to start with, but it can also be limiting if the public sector, non-profit doesn’t appeal. How can you make an impact from the inside of an organisation, perhaps? What are the upcoming Global Issues that can have a significant impact of change? We think the 80,000 hour’s ‘Areas of Concern’ whitepaper has an excellent overview of this and may spark more ideas beyond the UN’s list.  

However, to make sure you know what’s what in the world of Social Impact Roles, here are some of the traditional sectors of Social Impact and roles/businesses within them:

  • Corporations: Sustainability, Social Impact, Corporate Social Responsibility, Products for Underserved Communities, and Reduction of Environmental Harm.
  • Government/Public Sector: Public Welfare Departments or Agencies, as well as State, County, Region and National ones. Key areas include Renewable Energy and Water Preservation.
  • Non-profit Orgs: Reducing Poverty and Hunger, Health Care, Int. Aid, Education, Community Development, Philanthropy and Education. Can cover non-profit consulting.
  • Social Enterprises: Any businesses or company begun with the goal of solving or addressing a social, human or environmental need. This includes ed-tech startups.
  • Social Finance: Impact investment Funds, Microfinance Institutes, Impact Investing, Community Development Finance Institutes and Development Banks.

Getting a Social Impact Job

Once you’ve decided how involved you’d like to be, what sector appeals to you most, or even which issues you want to tackle, your attention is most likely turned to finding what the best social impact companies are. Depending on your criteria, this will ultimately look different for everyone. Instead of just focusing on any top 10 list, we want you to ask yourself some questions before you start searching. 

What is your Purpose?

Most people could tell you they care most about perhaps equal rights, the environment or sustainability, but the part people don’t often go deep enough into is, how will you know when your purpose is fulfilled? How much of your life needs to be focused on this? Or even more clearly, what do you need to be doing and/or have achieved to feel satisfied? 

What are your Unique Talents?

You could likely find many roles that serve your purpose, especially the more high level the goal or ambition is, but how can you contribute to that mission. Where are you likely to find a role where you can have the most impact on your focused goal? Once you become aware of who you are, the bigger the changes you will see from your decisions.

Do you have the right Support?

Whether you’re a remote worker or in-house talent, the type of organisation and manager is essential to success. Do they offer what you need to get the job done? Does it match the way you want to work and impact the world? You could have the social impact job of your dreams, but with a company that is at complete odds with your lifestyle, it’s unlikely to be a successful working relationship, and your purpose will go by the wayside. 

Finding Your Dream Social Impact Role

We want you to know three things when you start your search for the perfect Social Impact Job.

Be proactive and self-motivated.

Make sure to reach out to those working in your dream role or business, learn and connect with those in the industry. You’ll soon pick up the sector’s language and immerse yourself in the real-time happenings of the industry. 

Know Your Purpose

Knowing your purpose is vital because, without it, you’re a map with no north star. Sure, you will experience many exciting places, but you find yourself left in the hot desert rather than the icy tundra you were aiming for. Dive deep into the areas of purpose, research and explore, even make a shortlist, and bit by bit, you’ll whittle them down to your number one. 

Utilise Your Resources

We acknowledge sometimes it’s not an equal playing field, so make sure to use all the resources available to you to make your social impact dreams come true. Use job boards as much as you can, and set up multiple alerts for the roles you’re most keen on. 

Also, make sure to explore resources outside mainstream recruiting systems, such as social impact job boards. Tailored only to show you the hidden gems. Such as the  B Corp Job BoardWork for Impact, Commongood Careers (now known as Koya Partners), DevExIdealistJustMeans, and more.

More than ever before, organisations are considering their effect on the world and looking for ways to make a difference. Companies are adopting social and environmental programs, and non-profits are promoting a wide range of unique causes. 

In truth, there have never been more projects aimed at changing the world for the better. But these initiatives need the right people to reach their full potential. Make sure you’re one of them, doing what you love, what you’re good at, and what the world needs.

Work for Impact is a for-purpose freelance talent platform that specialises in connecting talent and Social Impact organisations. Create your profile today, for free.