The wild west of facilitator jobs
Facilitation as a profession is still establishing itself. I compare the facilitation field to how the counseling field was over 100 years ago. In the early 1900’s the first career counseling center opened in the USA (Source). Counseling is a more established profession than facilitation. Counseling professionals can easily find jobs or become a private counselor. The counseling industry’s market rate has been standardized.
Facilitation, not so much. We are still somewhat in the wild west as education, government, and business entities work to understand the value of facilitation and create infrastructure to support the field. In addition, because the field is emerging there is not a well defined path towards making this vocation a financially sustainable career. Through my journey as a facilitator I’ve learned a few ways to make cash flow. In this blog post I share what I’ve learned on how to land facilitator jobs.
First you have to explore what kind of job you want.
Do you want the traditional full time job where you work for an employer? Or do you want the unconventional freelance job where you are your own boss working with clients? There are pros and cons to both paths. A job with an employer is a more stable environment, predictable work, and consistent income. In comparison freelancing work is a more unpredictable environment, erratic income, and takes lots of internal motivation.
Each path has its own challenges. In my experience the traditional path began to feel stagnant, numbing, and rigid. Now that I’m on the more unconventional path I’m facing new challenges such as needing a lot of discipline to stick to my own deadlines, having to create my own sense of belonging without a constant team, and needing to create my own credibility without having an institution to back me up.
The path you want will influence which of the below options apply to you.
Six ways to land a facilitator job:
1. Apply for jobs in the public and private sector
If you are interested in more traditional work, one way to get a facilitation job is to apply for a position in a consulting firm or nonprofit that specializes in your facilitation niche. Consulting firm’s and nonprofits can provide external unbiased third party facilitation services to clients. To find consulting firms or nonprofits that specialize in your niche search in your search engine “Your facilitation niche consulting firm/nonprofit your location.” Examples of that would be…
- Change Management Consulting firm Portland, Oregon
- Restorative Justice Nonprofit Los Angeles, California
- Experiential Learning Nonprofit London
- Interfaith Dialogue Consulting Firm Sydney, Australia
In addition, you can apply for internal facilitator jobs with an organization or company in an industry you like. In my experience companies often don’t have one position focused on facilitation, but they will have positions where facilitation is a large portion of work you do. Examples of positions that can do a lot of facilitation are:
- Community Engagement Coordinators
- Project Coordinators and Managers
- Partnership Management
- Event Planners
You probably already know the usual places to find jobs, but if not, Linkedin and Idealist are great sites for finding jobs.
2. Join an Association
Most associations have a member directory which employers can look through when searching for facilitators. In addition, some associations have job listings, which you can look through to apply for jobs. You can join regional and international associations that focus broadly on facilitation or focus on specific facilitation niches. Here are some associations, but know there are SO MANY associations. Find the one that is right for you and if it doesnt exist, create it.
- General Group Facilitation: International Association of Facilitators and International Institue for Facilitation
- Education Facilitation: Association for Experiential Learning
- Transformation Facilitation: The International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association
- Dialogue Facilitation: The Academy of Professional Dialogue
- Conflict Facilitation: The Association for Conflict Resolution and The National Association of Community and Restorative Justice
- Deliberative Facilitation: National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation
- Change Facilitation: The Organization Development Network and Association of Change Management Professionals
3. Apply for Freelancing and Independent Contract gigs
Independent contract and freelance work is where you do a temporary job for a client, but you are not their employee. You get paid a pre negotiated amount without taxes being taken out. It’s your responsibility to figure out the taxes. UpWork, Fiverr, FlexJobs, and DICE are some popular freelance and contract work website. For these website you create an account and then you get access to a lot of freelancing gigs. For me it was a great first step towards feelancing because it’s so easy to use these sites. You get the chance to get comfortable with the logistical and communication dynamics involved with freelance and contract work.
4. Apply for Request for Proposal’s
If you like working for the public sector then you can search for public sector Request for Proposals (RFP’s). RFP’s are like job applications, but for a specific project. You create a proposal outlining how you would be the best candidate for the project, how you would execute the project, and you give a financial quote for the project. City, State, Federal, and International Government and corporate agencies post RFP’s on Tender Bulletin Boards (a “Tender” is an invitation to bid for a project). Governmentbids.com is an example of a Government RFP bulletin board. There are international, national, and regional bulletin boards. To find one in your region just search “Your location RFP Tender Bulletin Board”
Oen important thing to know about RFP’s is that you are competing against larger consulting firms who get notified on every competitive bid project. They usually land these projects. To have a chance to land an RFP project it’s best to partner with one of the larger consulting organizations.
5. Become certified in a trademarked facilitation approach and join their directory
It’s becoming increasingly common for organizations and companies to trademark their facilitation modality. They offer certification programs and then you get to join their community of practice and directory of facilitators. Employers looking for that specific trademarked approach can look through the directory for a facilitator like you. Below are companies offering training and certification programs in trademarked approaches. There are plenty of more companies and organizations offering these types of certificates. Do research to find the right one for you.
- General Group Facilitation: Leadership Strategies
- Education Facilitation: Transformative Learning Foundation
- Transformation Facilitation: Generative Somatics
- Dialogue Facilitation: The Circle Way
- Conflict Facilitation: The Center for Nonviolent Communication
- Deliberation Facilitation: The Art of Hosting
- Change Facilitation: Prosci Change Management
6. Network, Network, Network
Most of the facilitator jobs I’ve landed have been through networking. Meet with other facilitators through informational interviews. Ask other facilitators if they are open to co-facilitating job opportunities with you when they arise and to keep you in mind if a job comes up that they can not do. Remember all those associations I listed above, those are great places to do networking in your field.
Take our quiz here to download our free ebook “How to Become a Facilitative Leader,” where you can learn about what facilitator jobs are right for you.