Book Review: Compassionate Careers: Making a Living by Making a Difference
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting books from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best books to use in your career and job search.
Compassionate Careers: Making a Living by Making a Difference, by Jeffrey W. Pryor and Alexandra Mitchell, $16.99. Career Press: March 23, 2015. 288 pages.
Reviewed by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
This book is all about the 3 Ps of finding a career with an organization that makes the world a better place: passion, purpose, and paycheck. If you are searching for a career that offers something beyond simply a paycheck, this book can assist you in finding your passion and purpose. This book is meant to inform, empower, and inspire.
Why work for a nonprofit or foundation? Why seek out a corporation whose mission is all about being socially responsible? Why consider working for a social enterprise organization? Why consider starting your own purpose-driven organization? Why? To fulfill a need to serve a greater purpose than making widgets… and this book serves as a strong guide in helping purpose-driven job-seekers understand the landscape of this career path.
The most surprising aspects of this book deal with research findings that many new college grads were hard-pressed to identify more than one charitable organization… and (in a separate study), virtually every respondent — nonprofit and foundation leaders — stated that neither teachers nor counselors had ever suggested a career in this field. The authors add: “Most people know about volunteer work, but awareness of paid, cause-focused positions and ‘compassionate careers’ is next to nil.”
Furthermore, the authors debunk the myth that cause-driven work forces you into a life of poverty. Most people working in this field earn a decent salary and benefits comparable with the for-profit sector; this changes at the higher levels, where top management in nonprofits cannot compare to the eye-popping salaries made in Corporate America.
While we at Quintessential Careers have always been advocates for nonprofits, even we were surprised by some of the statistics… such as that about 14 million people (about 10 percent of the U.S. workforce) are employed by the 1.6 million registered non-profits. Furthermore, the number of nonprofits continues to climb. These figures do NOT include all the others who are employed by for-profit businesses that either have as their mission a cause — or that have an arm/division focused exclusively on philanthropy.
While anyone seeking a purpose-driven career will find this book useful, the authors specifically target Millennials — partly for the sheer size of this age group and partly because research shows that people in this group consider it a duty to make a difference in the world — to leave it better than past generations have. Furthermore, with Baby Boomers now retiring, the timing is perfect for this next generation to take on the mantel of helping make the world better.
Readers will find solid information for assessing both your career passion as well as your area of purpose — both critical for personal successful and fulfillment. You’ll also find inspirational quotes and many stories of people living a purpose-driven life.
If you are searching for something more from your work. If you are seeking work that matters, work that makes a difference, work that is transformative, work that reinforces a personal sense of mission… then this book is for you.
The best chapter by far — from a career standpoint — is Chapter 9, which is a step-by-step guide to getting started in a purpose-driven career — and also includes an online assessment. Other chapters are informative, explaining the many paths a person can follow when called to a deeper purpose. There is also a strong resources section for readers who seek additional help and guidance.
Final Thoughts on Compassionate Careers
One of our favorite quotes in the book comes from former President Jimmy Carter: “The things that make you successful in life are the ones that you cannot see — peace, humility, service, love, and compassion.”
If you seek a higher purpose, if you feel an emptiness about marketing some consumer good no one really needs, if you ache to lend both your voice and your passion to a cause, you’ll find the answers you seek in this book.
Final words from the book: “Compassionate careers give people an opportunity to participate in the healing of our world.”
Check out all our book reviews in Quintessential Reading: Career and Job Book Reviews.