Pursuing Purpose: How to Land a Mission-Driven Opportunity

woman in power

When you find a company that you feel good about, one that is making a positive impact on the world and one that appears to appreciate everything working motherhood brings to the table, it’s easy to feel your passion skyrocketing. “These are my people! This is my place!” you may think and you aren’t exactly wrong. 

However, it is important to realize this passion is only the fuel and you’ll still need the actual rocket to land in your desired destination. 

How can you make a positive impact on a company?

You can have all the passion in the world for a position or an organization, but without the skills needed for the role, you won’t have the tools you need to succeed. And a company won’t hire a person, no matter how passionate, that doesn’t have the ability to succeed in a given role. Hard truths we must embrace. Alas, you can many times find a way!

To impact an organization you must connect your passion and skills as part of your pitch. And so, when you are in the job search or considering a change to a new role you have to remember to bring both parts of the equation together and then communicate both to your prospective employer. Give them reasons to say yes; passion + skills/experience. 

Mission-driven or just plain purposeful

There are a few companies out there that are very obviously mission-driven or serve a higher purpose like non-profits or community organizations. Here at The Mom Project, for example, it’s easy to see the value we place on moms in the workplace and how we have built a company to build a better workplace of the future. 

Also, though, there are plenty of workplaces that are solving interesting problems and have incredible cultures where you can find a great fit. Take for example Hubspot who is consistently named one of the best workplaces for parents based on their quality of parental leave, workplace flexibility and dependent health care benefits as well as how being a working parent influences their work experience, or Etsy who provides 26 weeks of fully-paid parental leave to all employees, regardless of gender, along with a stipend for assistance with the costs of adoption or surrogacy and parent rooms that include changing tables among other benefits.

Other examples of companies that are good for parents include our Community member Erica Labovitz and her experience with Outschool. This is a company working on the interesting problem of virtual school options and provided her with maternity leave before she started in her new role. Another example comes from Drisana Wallace who found a part-time opportunity with Zulily. The remote role helps her balance the needs of her family with her need for professional, paid work. 

👉 While a company may not directly shout they are committed to building a better workplace you can delve into their offerings, social media and benefits to see more about their culture and how it might be just the right place for YOU to shine. 

I personally experienced a great company culture for working parents during my tenure at Yelp. The company provided paid parental leave ranging from 6 to 12 weeks covering both maternity and paternity leave, adoption and childbirth. They also supported new moms with dedicated nursing rooms and many other benefits. Beyond that they had a generous PTO policy, flexible work times and family-friendly work events.

All this to say, don’t count out companies before you investigate what they stand for. Whether they are aligned with your mission or are just a really purposeful company, you can find a good culture fit by taking the time to really dive into all aspects of a company. 

woman looking at a laptopHow to assess a company's culture

Trying to figure out if a potential employer is a good fit? Learn what to look for in the job search to see if the company culture is right for you. Read more

Lead with experience

I can be very passionate about landing a rover on Mars, but it’s easy to understand why my passion might not be enough to be invited to do that particular job. It’s a little more complicated when a role isn’t as clear cut as rocket science. What if a role is an administrative assistant or a writer or something in sales? Truthfully, the job title doesn’t matter that much — just as a Mars landing takes a specific subset of skills so does every other job out there.

And while we, as applicants, just know we’d be perfect for this role at this company, hiring managers are weighing several factors across dozens, if not hundreds of candidates. They are considering so many factors such as: Who has more experience? Who was more personable? Who arrived for the interview prepared and on time?

Venn diagram of passion and experience

While being passionate definitely matters, it won’t outweigh showing up highly disorganized or other red flag behavior and it also won’t push you to the front of the line because chances are everyone who is applying is also passionate about the mission of the company. Passion just isn’t enough — by itself — to ensure you’ll land your next job.

If you find that your skillset isn’t quite up to par with the roles you are interested in, invest in yourself. Find personal development platforms to use, volunteer your time or go back to school if necessary. If you are truly passionate about a certain role or company you may need to grow your own skills to succeed there.

What to focus on in your search

You should always highlight your passion for a job or company of course. But also be realistic in acknowledging it isn’t some sort of golden ticket that will guarantee a job for you. Instead, be practical about the other steps you need to take to land your next role. The passion should be one facet of your efforts, but you also need to focus on the other angles of the job search, too.

1. Sell your story by communicating your skills and experience 

Start by ensuring that you have a resume that sells your story and you are comfortable talking about why you are the best candidate for a role. When considering your resume compared to the job listing make sure you do a gut-check to see if you have any transferable skills that would work to your benefit. For example, if you combine total years of experience across different roles do you meet the criteria being sought or did you have responsibilities within a role that went above and beyond the usual requirements?

2. Avoid making small mistakes

Next, pay attention to the small mistakes you may be making without realizing it. Proofread all your job search assets and have someone you know proofread them as well. Respond promptly and professionally to any communications with the company or hiring manager. And make sure to send a thank you note any time you have an interview.

3. Foster your network

Finally, make sure you are building and maintaining your network. Look to your community ties as well as your professional ones. If you are volunteering within your community chances are you are already connected to some great mission-driven organizations that you can tap into for opportunities. And if it’s been a while since you were in the workforce brush up on your networking skills and the general etiquette of cold reach-outs before you begin messaging people on LinkedIn or by email. 

woman looking at a laptopTried everything in your job search? Here's what's next.

Watch career coach Melisa Liberman discuss how to self-diagnose mindset traps and what to do when you feel like you’ve done everything in your job search.

Keep in mind

Just as a mission-driven company must craft their own how and why the company makes a positive impact on the world, you’ll find you also need to create your own how and why you can make a positive impact on the company.

By understanding where your passion comes from you’ll gain insight into yourself and what you are looking for in a company. Take that insight to look at the companies out there with a fresh set of eyes and you may find that more companies fit the bill of what you are looking for than the ones that are obvious at first glance. 

From there evaluate what you can bring to the role and the company in terms of passion and skills and if you find yourself excelling in both areas then you are well on your way to landing a mission-driven opportunity that connects your passion to purpose in a powerful way.

Tiffany Nieslanik is the Managing Editor at The Mom Project, a graduate student, and a homeschooling mom to 3 young kids. In her (limited) free time she’s also an avid reader, a proponent of power naps, and enjoys getting outside as often as possible

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