7 must-read dos & don’ts of creating a career you care about
Looking to inject some more meaning into your career? Read these tips from Julia Capon, founder of New Zealand’s #1 ethical jobs board, Do Good Jobs.
In her final year of university, Julia realised she didn’t want to work in the corporate world. Instead, she decided to travel South America.
“I saw lots of great social enterprises and cooperatives coming together to change the lives of the poorest in various countries, and came home knowing I wanted to help in this area. My first job was at Trade Aid as the Marketing Manager, and from there I got addicted to doing ‘good.’”
Upon returning from her OE, Julia struggled to find a job she wanted through platforms like Trade Me and Seek. This led Julia to create an ethical jobs board for New Zealanders who, like her, who want to do ‘good’ in their career.
“To me, a good job has two parts; (a) a job that makes you happy and come alive and where you feel you’re successful, and (b) a job that has purpose.”
Julia shares her seven most important dos and don’ts of getting into a career that does good.
DO: reflect on what makes you tick before applying for a job.
“In my early 20s when I reflected on what I did and was passionate about as a child (the environment and conservation), I realised that this passion had gotten lost somewhere in my teen years. Think about what you wanted to be when you were younger (and why), and what got you fired up. These reflections can help you understand your values set, rather than just being focused on making money or getting the most prestigious job.”
DO: get to grasps with financial basics
“People will probably roll their eyes at this, but if you want to have a leadership role in the future or even better, run your own organisation in the future, then having some grasp of financials is crucial.”
DON’T: start a charity (please!)
“New Zealand has over 27,000 charities and one of the highest numbers of charities per capita in the world. I can’t emphasise enough that people should research whether anyone is already doing what they want to do.
If we want better outcomes, we need to create a movement of people who are dedicated to solving the issue together.
There is only a limited pool of funds in the charity space to go around. If you want to start something, consider how you can make a financially sustainable social enterprise instead. My advice is to take it slow and steady to achieve success as I don’t want you to burn out!”
DO: look at your career as a puzzle to be put together bit by bit
“I love the Japanese idea of Ikigai – finding your reason to get up in the morning. Ikigai also recognises that “your passion” is only one part of the puzzle.”
“Question what parts of your current work you love doing (I read an article once that defines this as the things that you enjoy doing so much that it makes you forget to pee). Next, think about the small steps you can take to explore possible pathways. For example, if you’re a lawyer and want to change into a “good” career, maybe join the governance of a charity to get an inside scoop on how things work before quitting your job.”
DON’T: dismiss the value of your current job
“Try to help make change happen from within, from policy changes to help value mental health in your workplace to reducing your business’ carbon footprint. I highly recommend checking out 80,000 hours.com (the number of hours you’ll spend working in your life!). It helps you make the career choices, while solving the world’s most pressing problems.
Secondly, be generous – with your time, talent and treasure. It might be joining the governance board of a local charity and gifting your time and talent, or gifting your money (treasure) to causes you believe in.”
DON’T: expect smooth sailing all the way
“A lot of people say that entering the do-good workforce often means a step down in salary. Other benefits that you could negotiate to help offset this include flexi-time, remote working and extra holidays.
Another common challenge to expect is the constant razor’s edge between having enough funds to keep everyone employed and the organisation afloat. In most charities everyone has to play a role in fundraising or capital raising.
In most small to medium charities or social enterprises you also need to be a bit of a generalist. Don’t expect to specialise in just one skill – be ready to be flexible and open to learning new things too.”
DO: your research on what good advice is out there!
“Careers.govt.nz is a surprisingly useful New Zealand resource. I also highly recommend 80,000 hours, mentioned above, idealist.org and escapethecity.org.nz – and Do Good Jobs of course!”
Crafted by CHIA blogger, Anna Watson