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An overview

Deciding how your own values and beliefs will impact on your career choice is a very personal consideration. The information below aims to explore the idea of ‘doing good’ with your career – and focuses on organisations with social or environmental goals from the non-profit, public and private sectors. Opportunities which relate to your values can be found in all of these industries. For example, the private sector includes social enterprises, community interest companies, companies with CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) teams, SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) organisations and firms which have strong principles and values on the social/environmental impact of their work.

Defining your values

If you’re looking to ‘do good’ with your career, it can help to first consider what ‘doing good’ means to you. This can provide a useful career focus.

Try the following to help:

  1. Write a list of any of the following:
    • Volunteer or paid work that you’ve done which you consider ‘did good’
    • Causes that you actively support, or have done in the past
    • Individuals you know of who you think ‘do good’ with their career
    • Organisations or companies you know of who you feel ‘do good’
  2. For each, try to briefly define what ‘good’ was done.
  3. Consider the definitions of ‘good’ you’ve just written.  Are there any themes emerging which could help to pinpoint your values? Reflecting on this exercise can help you clarify where your values lie – and may also help to define other aspects that are important to you in a career.
Finding jobs

Working out what suits you

As well as your values, there are many other aspects that make up the ‘ingredients’ for fulfilling work. A job which doesn’t suit you, even in a context which fits your values well, can be an unhappy prospect. Take the time to think about:

  • Your skills – which do you like to use? What would you like to develop?
  • Your environment – buzzing and competitive? Supportive and personal? Concentrated and focused?
  • Your work-life balance
  • Location, salary

Generating Career Ideas

To investigate more about what would suit you, read our page on Generating Career Ideas, which contains resources, questionnaires and exercises to help you figure out what might suit you.

Job hunting

Vacancy Websites

There are a selection of job vacancy websites for cause-driven work listed in ‘External Resources’ on this briefing, and these should be supplemented with sector-specific resources. For example, if you’re really motivated to work in an environmentally impactful field, you can find many specific sites for job hunting via our Environmental Work page.

Graduate Schemes

Although a few graduate schemes do exist in charities, environmental organisations, arts organisations and so on (see the relevant sector pages for information), the high costs of training schemes mean that they are unusual in this area. A few more general schemes are listed below:

  • Fujitsu’s graduate scheme has opportunities to get involved in CSR projects
  • On Purpose runs a one year paid Associate Programme in social enterprise (only open to those with a minimum of 2 years full time work)

Speculative approaches

These are vital, as many organisations keep costs low by not advertising vacancies. Check individual organisation websites, and set up coffee chats with those working in some of your most favoured organisations to ask more about the work and the role – and ask whether they could let you know if they hear of any opportunities. See our guide to networking for more.

Alternative ways to fulfil your values

Sometimes it’s not possible to find work, at least initially, which meets all your interests, skills and has the ethical impact that you’re looking for. A good example is the field of Human Rights Law – there are many years of more general legal training and work ahead before you can begin to specialise in this application for your knowledge. So how do you keep your values fulfilled?


One of the best ways to connect with your values is to consider some volunteering around your other work/study.  You can see the variety of UK volunteering opportunities on Do-It.

Contact local ‘hubs’ to find out about more opportunities for voluntary work (if you’re here at the moment, Oxford Hub and OCVA are good places to get in touch with, as well as the work centred around the council-owned community centres, and properties housing many local charities, such as the Old Music Hall on Cowley Road).


Becoming an active campaigner can involve anything from harnessing online and social media activity, right through to in-person support for meetings and demonstrations. Connecting with campaigning hubs (examples include 38 Degrees and Avaaz) can provide you with the opportunity to participate in organised campaigning, and many larger organisations will provide resources for those that would like to further the campaign on a local or regional level.


If you have the resources to donate financially, you can do a significant amount of good for the causes you care about. Individual giving can also be supplemented by working to encourage donation from those around you by organising fundraising events and sharing information.

Giving What We Can is an Oxford organisation dedicated to providing information and encouragement for those seeking to give effectively. A similar organisation also considering giving time and energy is Give More. A US-orientated equivalent, giving recommendations on charities to donate to is Give Well.


Creating change within an institution is something all of us do in work, even in a minor way. If where you are working initially doesn’t meet your values, perhaps your enthusiasm can begin to influence a shift. From connecting with like-minded staff to discuss ideas, to creating business cases for them, you might be surprised how much impact you could (diplomatically!) make.

Investigating an employer's ethics

You can research by using an organisation’s website:

  • Reading their annual report (often available on their website – environmental/sustainability reports have been required by law since 2006).
  • Reviewing their organisational values, behaviours or mission statement – often in the ‘about us’ section of their website.
  • Researching their impacts and outputs – from learning how and if they share information with others, to evaluating the effects of their core work in light of your values.
  • Investigating their staff policies: often found near the vacancy section of their website. This might include details of their commitment to equality of opportunity, training and support, volunteering days, child-friendly workplace details and more.

The following alphabetical listing of websites provides a brief sample of research tools that may help you to investigate the policies and practices of particular companies.

It should be noted that they are drawn from a variety of sectors, and exist for a variety of different aims, so their relationships with (and perspectives on) companies may differ considerably. Some are independent organisations that are openly critical of major companies, while others are drawn from the business world, and will provide information on particular schemes and partnerships. They by no means provide absolute answers, but are hopefully useful for your investigations:

Our resources

Subscription websites

  • Ethical Jobs – a series of websites which we subscribe to on your behalf

Podcasts of past events

Careers with Social & Community Impact

This podcast will give you the chance to hear from three speakers who are all working in quite different roles but whose work makes an impact on their local communities.

External resources

Vacancy websites

  • Idealist – global search engine (use ‘United Kingdom’ in ‘Location’ for British jobs)
  • Guardian Jobs – attracts a large number of organisations seeking to improve social outcomes, as a result of its paper supplement ‘Society Jobs’
  • ACRE – CSR and sustainability jobs board
  • Elevator – jobs in charities, social enterprises and other ‘purpose driven’ companies
  • Social Enteprise UK – job board
  • Igneous Recruitment – CSR and sustainability jobs

Other useful websites

Regular events

This information was last updated on 24 November 2017.
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Recent blogs about Careers Beyond Profit

CPS Legal Trainee Scheme Open!!

Blogged by Annie Dutton on March 8, 2018.

This year’s CPS Legal Trainee Scheme (LTS) is now open for applications for those wishing to pursue a career in criminal law. The Legal Trainee Scheme offers up to 30 positions to those with an interest in criminal law, seeking to become fully qualified barristers or solicitors. Trainee posts will be based throughout England and Wales with specific locations to be confirmed at a later date.

These exciting opportunities to help deliver justice will include the chance to become a permanent Crown Prosecutor upon successful qualification with an expectation that graduates of the scheme will develop further into senior and specialist roles.

Thomas Heath, Legal Trainee and Pupil Barrister at CPS East Midlands, said: “Pupillage at the CPS provides so many opportunities to work with and learn from a wide variety of experienced and skilled advocates.”

To be eligible to apply, candidates need at least a 2:2 level undergraduate degree and have passed either the Bar Professional Training Course or the Legal Practice Course in time to commence pupillage or a training contract in November 2018.

Conference for Researchers: 10 days to go!

Blogged by Rachel Bray on March 7, 2018.

Final preparations are underway for this year’s Careers Conference for Researchers offering DPhils and Postdocs/RAs an exciting programme of live interviews with recruiters, sector-based panels, skills sessions and networking with employers over lunch.

Dr Liz Elvidge, co-author of the recent book What Every Postdoc Needs to Know, will give our final plenary talk. Liz will draw on years of experience at Imperial, share her insights into how people explore alternatives and find rewarding roles, and help you frame your own journey.

  • When: Saturday 17 March, 10:00-16:00
  • Where: Examination Schools
  • Book: via CareerConnect (search ‘Events’)

Although all places at this conference have been booked, please register via CareerConnect and you will be added to the waiting list. Spaces that become available will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you have booked, but are now unable to attend, please cancel your booking so someone else can have the place.

And if you can’t come, don’t panic! You can engage with the Careers Service resources at any time and download our programme with employer contacts after the event.

Charityworks – the UK non-profit sector’s graduate scheme – closes 28 Feb!

Blogged by Annie Dutton on February 22, 2018.

Have you ever wanted to have a career that makes a difference in society?

If you’ve answered yes to this question you should seriously consider applying to Charityworks. Charityworks is a 12-month paid graduate scheme where you will deliver a full-time job in a partner non-profit organisation and take part in an acclaimed leadership development programme, introducing you to the tools you need to work and lead in the non-profit sector.

Charityworks have 140 places on the programme this year to start in September, and they are looking for talented graduates who are committed to help solve the UK’s most pressing social problems.

  • Role opportunities are as diverse as HR, Research, Policy, Communications, Campaigning, Business Development, Fundraising and Frontline Work and more.
  • You could be working in areas as diverse as mental health, social housing, international development, disability, children and young people, social care, human rights and more.
  • Their graduate roles span over 80 non-profit organisations including NSPCC, LGBT Foundation, Marie Stopes International, National Housing Federation, Unicef and many more.
  • Their leadership development programme gives you an external senior mentor to support you in your career development, regular learning sessions to expand your knowledge and understanding of the sector, a chance to produce impact research that will have a tangible impact on your organisation, national conferences and more.

Charityworks trainees do amazing things. Many graduates stay at their host organisation at the end of the scheme, some go on to new roles mainly within the sector and some even start their own organisations.

Applications are closing on Wednesday 28 February 2018 so you have time left to complete an application. Find out more and apply at

Café Physics Oxford – insights into teaching physics

Blogged by Abby Evans on February 13, 2018.
  • When: 21 February, 12:00-14:00
  • Where: the Mendelssohn Room, by the main entrance to the Martin Wood complex in the Department of Physics.

Do you like tea, coffee, cake, physics, and careers advice? Join the Institute of Physics and current physics teachers for an informal insight into teaching physics. All attendees will receive free refreshments and an IOP goody bag!

Click ‘going’ on the Facebook event to get more details and be reminded about it.

What other jobs could you do? Conference for Researchers on 17 March

Blogged by Rachel Bray on January 25, 2018.

Are you a DPhil or postdoc unsure about whether you want to stay in academia but feeling a bit clueless about what else you could do? Do you want to keep using your research skills in interesting ways, while expanding your horizons beyond strictly academic research?

Booking is now open for the annual Careers Conference for Researchers – your chance to learn more about the many realms in which your academic skills and credentials will be valued.

  • When: Saturday 17 March, 10:00-16:00
  • Where: Examination Schools
  • Book: via CareerConnect

The conference will feature:

  • Themed panels showcasing ‘a day in the life’ of doctoral graduates now working in research-intensive sectors,
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  • A long lunch break for you to network with employers and/or try out a range of careers resources on everything from portfolio careers to overcoming a sense of academic failure.

The panel sessions will help you understand how to make an effective professional transition from academia into sectors including commercial science; entrepreneurship; finance; government and policy; higher-education funding and support; publishing; specialist consulting; and tech/AI.

The skills sessions will include negotiation skills and professional development; having a family as well as a career; creativity in a commercial setting; and how to make humanities and social-sciences training marketable.

Whether you’re on your third postdoc and know you want something different, on the verge of submitting your thesis and torn between academic and other paths, or would simply like to shake up your preconceptions about what your experience really equips you for, this Careers Conference may be just what you need. Places are being snapped up fast, so visit the events page on CareerConnect to book yours.

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