Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/31/2011

Now that Memorial Day has ended, it is time to get back to the grind that is job searching.  Hopefully you are relaxed and rejuvenated after the break.  With that in mind, here are some links to help you in your search:

  • '25 Essential Job Search Skills for 2011'-This is an interesting post, as it brings a psychology perspective to the table.  Even if you are not into that kind of thing, it makes for a good read for any job seeker.
  • 'The Right Post-Graduation Move: Internships'-Not sure what path you should take your career after college?  This blog post from Studentbranding.org suggests starting out with internships.  Although many internships tend to pay little or nothing at all, they are a good choice to get your career started.
  • 'Job Seekers Getting Googled, Volume and Relevance'-Does your online reputation really have a major impact on your ability to get a job?  It certainly does, according to this post by ResumeBear.  Backed up with solid statistics, this post also tells you the best ways to google yourself (hint: it's not as simple as it sounds).

Memorial Day

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day!  Posts will return as scheduled today, just wanted to give everyone a head's up!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: Memorial Day Weekend Edition

Well it's hard to believe it, but Memorial Day weekend is coming up.  As a note, I will be starting the festivities tomorrow, so there will be no posts tomorrow; I will be back starting on Tuesday.  You should take the opportunity to take a short break from your job search during this holiday weekend.  That way, you will be rested and ready to go again starting on Tuesday.  So forgot about the job search and job boards this weekend, and enjoy the time with your family and friends.

  • 'How Successful Freelancers REALLY Get Started'-I don't talk about this a lot, but freelancing is a great way to keep yourself busy while looking for full time employment.  Besides, a lot of time freelance work can lead to full time jobs.
  • 'Does Your Power Style Support Your Job Search?'-A lot of times, the way your personality shines through in an interview can be the difference between getting a job and seeing it slip away.  This article from The Harvard Business Review shares an anecdote on how this can happen, and what you can do to improve.
  • '20 Classic Business Card Mistakes That Make Your Life Harder'-Yeah, this is another post from JobMob, but it was too good to pass up.  Giving out business cards is a good way to get remembered at networking events, but you need to make sure you avoid the mistakes listed in this article.

Hiring Tip: The Employee Interview

Out of all the hiring tips you read, the most important might be those related to the employee interview. Let's face it, the key to hiring and keeping new workers is conducting a great interview. By asking the right questions, you will be on your way to selecting the employee that is the best fit for your nonprofit organization. However, if you don't hone your interview skills you will be in great risk of selecting employees who are ultimately not a great fit for your company.

Of course, job interview preparation is an art, and there is no perfect way to do it. There are some hiring interview tips, however, that all interviewers should know:
  • Prepare: This seems kind of obvious, doesn't it? But believe it or not, there are plenty of interviewers who don't review an employee's resume and other paperwork before the interview. This is absolutely important. No matter how good you think your memory is, you should always go over information again at least a few hours before the interview. Prospective employees like knowing that they mean something to the employer, so you should make sure to show them the proper respect and know their history well.
  • Along these same lines, you should consider preparing some interview questions. This could mean reading a list of top 10 interview questions or consulting with your HR department to see if they have any pre-made questions for you. I would specifically recommend asking open-ended questions; avoid asking things that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." You want to find out as much as you can about this person, and those kinds of interview questions won't help much.
  • Set a good tone: When the candidate first walks in, make sure to express how glad you are to meet them. This is a simple yet effective way to make him/her feel welcome and relaxed. Also, before the interview begins you should let the person know how long you expect it to last. Of course, there is no real way to tell exactly how long it will take, but it's good to let them know so you can both manage your time efficiently.
  • Trust your gut: After the interview is complete, you need to assess what you thought of the candidate. Did he/she seem almost too perfect for the position? If this is a thought that pops into your head, you should go with it. In the follow up interview, try and ask more specific questions to see if they are as good as they claim to be. You could also do some background checking, such as calling the references they have provided you with.
  • Make sure the interviewee knows the exact type of skills you are looking for in the position. You might think it is obvious from the job description, but you should lay out in specific terms what kind of employee you are looking for. This is important because you want to make sure there is no confusion about the job you will be wanting them to do.
Finally, don't forget that the candidate is also interviewing you. While it is important to ask quality employee interview questions, it is equally important to present the prospective employee with a good impression of you and your company. That is why it is so important to be professional and engaging. If the candidate doesn't think you are prepared and knowledgable, they will have no interest in joining your nonprofit. So really, at the end of the day, an employee interview is as much about you as it is about the candidate.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/25/2011

We have added quite a few jobs in the past couple of days on The Nonprofit Job Seeker.  If you haven't checked recently, now is a good time to see the newest positions.  With that in mind, here's the latest news from the non profit job front:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/24/2011

Yesterday was a sad day in the world of philanthropy.  Robert L. Payton, one of the founders of The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, died at the age of 84.  I didn't know him personally, but from all reports he was an outstanding human being, and he is going to be sorely missed.

  • 'Healing Tips for the Broken-Hearted Job Seeker'-Rejected from your dream job?  Don't let that get you down.  Read these tips from Careeralism.com, and go down the path of recovery!  Oh, and don't forget the grieving process!
  • 'How to Look for a Job When You're Employed'-You don't just have to look for work when you're unemployed, you know.  Even if you are really enjoying your current job, there's no harm in seeing what else is out there.  This article gives you tips on how to manage both your current your career and a potential future one.
  • '3 of 5 of Newly Laid Off Find Jobs'-File this one under "reasons for optimism."  There is no doubt that the job market has experienced a boost in the last month, and this article from The Orange County Register provides even more data to back up the good feelings in the air.  So even if you were just laid off, don't give up hope!

Procrastinating on Your Job Search

Picture this scenario for a moment:

You've already been working on your job search for most of the day and frankly, you're quite exhausted.  You're just about to close your web browser when you see a pretty interesting posting on the nonprofit job board you were browsing.  This looks like the job of your dreams, but there's one problem: you really don't feel like filling out yet another application.  Surely you can put it off for another day, the job is not going to disappear, right?

Not necessarily.

Ah, procrastination.  If you've been through college, you surely know about it.  You know how it works: You really should finish that paper...but there's a big party going on at your friend's dorm.  It can wait a little while.  And when it comes to your nonprofit job search, procrastination can rear it's ugly head again.  Filling out application after application can be mentally exhausting, so the temptation to put off filling another one out can be really strong.  If you really want that dream job, however, you are going to have to fight that temptation.  We are living through one of the most competitive job market's in recent history and, simply put, that dream job is not going to wait for you.  Remember, there are tons of people just like you that are applying to that job, and if you don't take the initiative, you aren't going to get it.

So the next time that you have the urge to procrastinate, keep that in mind. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/23/2011

Before I get into the links for today, I wanted to send out my thoughts to everyone who lost friends or family in the tornado that hit Joplin, MO last night.  This was the third deadly tornado that has struck the South/Midwest this Spring, so there has been a lot of destruction these past weeks.  Hopefully this is the last of those disasters.

  • 'Handling Lunch Interviews'-Do you have a lunch interview planned with an employer?  This post has some really helpful tips to make sure you impress your host.  Interviews over a meal can be more stressful than normal interviews, so it's really important to know what you are doing.
  • 'Have a Little Faith in Yourself'-Feeling down in the dumps about your career prospects?  Check out this post from Classroomtocubicle.com.  Very nice reference of a "Beach Boys" song, as well.
  • 'How to Job Search on LinkedIn'-Here's a video from Alison Doyle of About.com on how to use LinkedIn to search for jobs.  If you are new to the website, this is a good video to help you get started.

Responding to Job Applications

With the advent of online job applications, one of the common complaints from job seekers is that the process is essentially a "black hole." In other words, they feel as if they are sending their information into a void, never to be heard from again. It's easy to understand why they feel this way, of course. A lot of times, organizations will not even send an e-mail to tell a job candidate they weren't chosen. This isn't out of disrespect, as you know as a hiring manager; it's simply that so many job applications are sent out everyday that it is virtually impossible to respond to each one individually. Thanks to the technology we have at our disposal, however, there are ways to get back to job applicants so that they feel respected.

As I mentioned before, due to staffing limitations and simple realities, it is nearly impossible for an organization to personally respond to each job app they receive. The key word here, however, is personally. Thanks to the technology that most e-mail programs have, it is possible to send an auto response everytime a candidate sends their information in. While an automatic response may seem impersonal, it actually does give some assurance to the applicant. They will know that their application did arrive, and that there was no error in the submission. In this message, you should let the candidate know what the next step in the process will be. Let them know that they will be contacted within a set time period if they are chosen for a job interview. That way, they will know that if they aren't contacted, it means they weren't chosen. When it comes down to it, a job applicant deserves to know what to expect from the process; the worst thing you can do is leave someone in the dark, as it reflects badly on you as an organization.

You should also make sure to create reasonable expectations for the kind of response job seekers should expect in terms of response to their job applications. You can do this by putting a message in your job description, or in the automatic message that is sent when an applicant submits their information. You should say something along the lines of this: "Since we receive so many applications, we will be unable to provide answers to any questions you might have." Essentially, it should be a message that lets the individual know what kind of feedback they should expect from you. Even though it might not seem like much, this simple gesture can go along way to earning the respect of an applicant.

While it might not seem like a big deal, if you show all of your job applicants the same level of respect, it could lead them to recommend your organization to their friends/family, even if they don't get the job they wanted. Because, at the end of the day, treating a candidate the way we would want to be treated ourselves is not only the right thing to do, but it can also set you apart from other companies.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/20/2011

Here are the non profit job links I have gathered up for today:

More Resume Cover Letter Tips

Resume cover letters: They sure are a pain, but they also happen to be one of the most important parts of your job application. If there is one mistake in your cover letter, there is a huge risk that the hiring manager will not even look at your resume. This is especially true in the highly competitive field of nonprofit jobs. Yes, cover letter writing is a fine art, one that must be practiced if you are to get it right. But before you get to writing yours, there are some things that you should avoid putting in it at all costs. So without further ado, here are my nonprofit cover letter tips:
  • First of all, never open your resume cover letter with a gender-specific greeting (i.e. dear sir/madam). Unless you know the name of the hiring manager you are sending the letter to (which is rare), you won't have any idea what gender this person is. You should instead open with a phrase like "To whom it may concern."
  • You should certainly create a template cover letter, but never use the same letter for different job applications. Each cover letter should be carefully tailored for the specific non profit job you are applying to. For example, if it is a marketing job, you should be sure to write about all of your experience in doing marketing related work.
  • Keep a close eye on the length of your cover letter. It should last no more than one page; any more than that is too much.
  • At the same time, you don't want your cover letter to be too short, either. If you find what you write lasts no more than a paragraph two, you need to reconsider your approach. If you haven't already, open up with a short story about yourself that gives a good example of the kind of skills you would bring to the position.
  • If there are specific directions for your cover letter, make sure to follow them. This seems obvious, but it sometimes get lost in the process of crafting it. Be sure to write down a list of what is required for a specific cover letter (salary requirements, etc), and make it a point to include it.
So there you have it, those are some of the things you should most definitely avoid while writing your nonprofit cover letter. As long as you avoid these hazards, your letter should turn out just fine.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/19/2011

Thought I would fill in anybody who is interested about a preview The NonProfit Times put up for its April/May 2011 issue of Exempt Magazine.  This publication deals with nonprofit finance, so if that's something that interests you, take a look.  And now, back to our regularly scheduled program:

  • 'Fewer People Applied for Unemployment Benefits'-Good news coming from The Boston Herald: for the second straight week, fewer people applied for unemployment benefits.  Specifically, the number dropped by 29,000.  It has been a good few weeks for the job market; it looks like we are really starting to turn a corner.
  • 'Job Campaign: Happy Talk'-Plus points to this post for effective use of a great song from a great musical (South Pacific).  This is a post to help employers improve their recruiting campaigns.  The key: to feel at ease when talking about the job.
  • 'Are You Slacking in Your Job Search?'-Tips from The Work Buzz Blog (from CareerBuilder.com) about how to effectively plan your job search.  It may seem a bit excessive but remember, searching for a job is in ways a full-time job!

Making a Good Elevator Speech

One of the more useful skills to master as a job seeker is the elevator speech.  What is an elevator speech, you ask?  Well, it's a pitch you make to potential employers (either at interviews or networking events) that is designed to highlight your skills and work background.  It should be no more than 30-60 seconds (the time it would normally take to ride an elevator---get it?), so theoretically it shouldn't be that hard, right?  It can be very difficult, however, to compress so much important information into such a short time frame.  How do you know what you should leave out, or what is imperative to mention?  A lot of times, you will find that it depends on the situation.

If you are at a network event, chances are you have not had any contact with the person you are going to give your elevator pitch to.  In this case, you should start by shaking the person's hand and introducing yourself.  There is nothing more awkward walking up to a complete stranger and immediately going off into your speech.  You also want to make sure you have practiced the pitch enough so that it doesn't sound forced or rehearsed; unfairly or not, the first impression someone has of you is the one that is most likely to stick.  It's also important to make sure the person wants to hear your pitch, so after your introduction, ask them politely if they have time to hear about your background.

If you are at a job interview, you should wait to make your elevator speech until the hiring manager asks one of those "tell me about yourself" questions.  In this case it won't be necessary to introduce yourself, as you will probably have talked to him/her before the interview.  This leads us to what you should actually include in your pitch (this applies to either of the situations):

  • Give yourself a job title.  This doesn't have to be a title you had at a previous job; it's meant to describe what you are best at doing.  For example: "I'm a PR expert with over 10 years in the marketing industry."  Something like that would be a good introduction (though it should obviously be a lot more polished).
  • As you saw from that example I gave, it is important to list how many years of experience you have in your field.  If you don't have little to no work experience, you should emphasize your enthusiasm for the field you want to get into, and mention any classes you might have taken that relate to it.
  • Near the end of your speech, you should make a brief mention of how your background will help the nonprofit you are applying to.
  • Remember, the elevator speech is only supposed to be 30-60 seconds.  This means you shouldn't go into long anecdotes from your background.  You need only to briefly mention any relevant projects you have worked on that might be of interest to the employer. 
And "relevant" is the key to making a good elevator speech.  If it's not relevant to the non profit job you are applying to, there is no reason to mention it.  The whole point of the speech is to get the employer more interested in you, and the only way to do that is to highlight skills that will apply to the job in question.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/18/2011

What ever happened to those May flowers anyway?  If you live on the East Coast (specifically, anywhere from Baltimore to New York), you probably know what I'm talking about.  Personally, I'm looking forward to whenever nature decides to send us a full week of sunshine.  Here are today's non profit job links while you dream about nicer weather:

  • 'How to Help Your Job Network Think of You'-Are you worried that people in your career network are not thinking of you when new job openings come up?  Tim Tyrell-Smith from USA News has some tips that will make you more memorable to them.
  • 'Characteristics of the Ideal Candidate for the Job'-This is as about a helpful link as I can share with you.  It's from The Career Catalyst blog, and it's a list put together HR VP's and Directors of what they look for in job candidates for their firms.  A very insightful read.
  • 'The Resume is Dead, the Bio is King'-I'm not sure I actually agree with this, but it's an interesting idea.  I still think resumes have their place in the job search, but I will admit that the author does make some good points.  You should still be making resumes, though!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/17/2011

We have had a ton of new nonprofit jobs added to The Nonprofit Jobseeker recently.  If you haven't checked it out recently, now's the time!

  • 'Maybe It's Not Your Resume, It's You'-Another good blog post from Rosetta Thurman.  Take these tips to heart before revising your resume; it could be some other things that are holding you back in your job search.
  • It looks like Facebook has launched a new resource center for nonprofits.  Mashable.com has the full scoop, so check that out if your organization is looking to take advantage of social media.
  • 'Job Available: No Experience Preferred'-This article from The Harvard Business Review discusses exactly how important experience is when organizations hire new employees.  If you've been concerned about your lack of experience in the field you are applying to, this article might give you some reassurance.

A Job Search Story: The Dangers of Overconfidence

I have been running this blog for nonprofit jobs for about 2 1/2 months (give or take).  You've read about all the job search tips I have had to offer, and hopefully they have had some help.  I haven't really talked a whole lot about my experiences though, and that is mostly by design.  Let's face it, you're not here to read about me, and that's not the point of this blog anyway.  But today I thought I'd share an anecdote from my life that I think is pertinent to all of you job seekers out there.  So sit back, grab some popcorn, and let me take you back to the Summer of 2009... (cue flashback music)

I had picked a terrible time to graduate college, that was for sure.  The country was at the height of the Great Recession, and it stood to reason that I might have some difficulty finding jobs.  Frankly, I had no expectations of finding a job anytime soon.  It was with great surprise, then, that I almost immediately found a job that fit my experience level.  What's more, it was at a company I had previously interned at, and it was a similar position as well.  I was sure that with my connections at the company, as well as my previous experience doing that kind of work (Editorial Assistant, in case you were wondering), that I was a lock for the job.  I'm pretty sure you know what happened next.

Weeks went by, and I finally heard back from the company: unfortunately, I was not chosen.  It was a rude awakening to the harsh realities of the modern job search; despite my connections at this job and my apparent skills, I was rejected.  It's hard to pinpoint one reason I didn't get the job; there were obviously many factors, and the competitive environment spurred on by the recession obviously didn't help.  But if there was one specific flaw that I could point to in my job search process, it was overconfidence. 

It's true that I had a good connection at the job I applied to, but I figured that was enough.  I didn't bother to work that source hard enough: I figured just mentioning the person was enough. What's more, I didn't really do much follow up with the company.  I thought they were busy enough, and they didn't need a nagging job seeker calling them up.  Simply put, I pretty much thought I had this job in the bag, and there was no reason to do any additional work.  Obviously, I was dead wrong on that count, and you should take this as a lesson during your nonprofit job search. 

It's great to be confident; in fact, it's necessary.  If you apply to a non profit job thinking you aren't going to get it, you are only making a difficult process even more difficult.  However, if you are overconfident like I was, you will lead yourself to believe that you don't have to do any of the hard, but necessary, work that comes with job hunting.  And that, as you can see, is just about the worst thing you can do.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/16/2011

Just as a follow-up to my earlier post, I wanted to know if any of our readers had any experience doing national service work through AmeriCorps or programs like it?  Did you think it was worthwhile?  Your thoughts are always appreciated!  Anyway, here are the links I have rounded up today:

  • 'Four Tips Young Nonprofit Professionals Should Keep in Mind When Job Hunting'-This is another great post from Allison Jones.  If you haven't already, check out her blog.  This post offers good advice for young job seekers hoping to break into the nonprofit sector.  Basic stuff, but very well written and informative.
  • 'Tips for a Successful Job Search: Half the Battle is Knowing What you Want'-The title of this post says it all.  If you don't know what you are looking for, how are you supposed to be successful during your job search?  What I like most about this post is that it drives home that you should know what you want from every aspect of your dream job-not just what type of job it is.
  • 'Your Org's Personality in Three Words?'-Here's a post that should be helpful for any hiring managers that might be reading this blog.  Perception is key to getting people to work for your company, so it's imperative to describe accurately what it's like to work there.

The Public Service Work Generation

When I got into work today, I came across an interesting article while browsing the web.  It was a Knoxnews.com article about the sharp increase in college graduates doing public service work.  This isn't breaking news or anything, but I found the article very moving and it got me thinking about how this young generation is really renewing the public service concepts of their grandparents.

One of the recurring themes of the article is that these young people are not just doing public service because of a weakened economy; they are doing it because they really have a passion for it.  In fact, every one of these individuals interviewed mentioned how this was something they always wanted to do, and many of them have been doing this kind of work since they were very young.  Organizations like AmeriCorps are very much responsible in helping these young Americans connect with nonprofit and public service jobs. While graduates certainly appreciate the student loan help these organizations provide, they are also relishing the chance to really make a difference.  And, as an added benefit, they are gaining valuable national service experience that will make them attractive candidates for nonprofit jobs. 

The most interesting thing about all of this, however, is that many people view the younger generation of Americans as lazy.  Just looking at some of the comments in the Knoxnews article, I saw some people saying how these "youngsters" won't be satisfied with the stipends they get from these programs.  And in general, there is a perception that this generation is too obsessed with material things.  Yet this simply doesn't jive with what we are seeing with today's youth.  While it's true there are some who fit the stereotype, I think we are seeing the rise of a new service generation.  And, frankly, it will be for the benefit of our nation as a whole.

If you are interested, you can read the whole Knoxnews article by clicking here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/12/2011

Sorry for not having links yesterday.  I have been very busy here around the office.  Anyway, here are the links for today:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nonprofit Salary Negotiation

So you've finally made it to the home-stretch of your job search; the nonprofit you really wanted to work for is prepared to offer you a job.  The only detail that remains, however, is one of the most important: your salary.  The nonprofit salary negotiation can be one of the more nerve-wracking tasks you undertake.  You obviously want to be paid appropriately for the work you will be doing, but you also are nervous about sounding too greedy.  How are you supposed to know what is an appropriate nonprofit salary to ask for?  Luckily for you, there are plenty of resources you can use to help you.

One good resource you will discover are salary surveys.  These are available from various different organizations (including The NonProfit Times), and will tell you the exact salaries for various types of nonprofit jobs.  Some of these reports cost money, however, so if this isn't an option for you there are other alternatives.  For instance, you can make contact with industry professionals who can advise you on an appropriate nonprofit salary to ask for.  Now that you have this information, let's go over the actual negotiation process.

Yesterday, I linked to an article from USA Today on this very subject.  The author, Alison Green, makes a great point in the opening of her piece: say the specific number you have in mind.  Although you may have heard recommendations to not give a specific dollar amount, the truth of the matter is the employer is going to want to know what you have in mind.  As a matter of fact, as Ms. Green mentions in her article, you will be hard pressed to find a job application that doesn't ask for your salary expectations in your cover letter.  So really, you may have to do some salary negotiations before you are even offered the job.

Once you give your expectations, it's time get down to negotiating.  Now, the best case scenario is that the salary you are asking for matches what the employer is looking to pay you anyway.  Unfortunately, this scenario doesn't always play out, so you have to be prepared for that.  Show that you have done your homework by referencing the information you got from salary surveys and/or other sources.  If a hiring manager realizes you are well informed about the typical nonprofit salary, they may be willing to compromise with you. 

However, if the employer won't budge from a number that you think is unfair, you really have to consider your options.  How desperate are you for this position?  Do you have any other nonprofit jobs that you can turn to if you turn down this one?  Are there opportunities for raises/bonuses in the future at this organization?  Ideally, the interviewer will give you at least a day to consider your options.  But if he/she needs an answer right away, I would take the job.  Unless the salary offered is extremely behind industry standards, you really have to take what you can get in this economy.  Although things are improving, it is still very hard to get a job.  And if you can get one, even if it doesn't pay what you would want in a perfect world, you should consider yourself lucky.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/10/2011

Sorry for the delay in the links, I've been fairly busy today with other work I had to take care of.  So without further delay, here are the nonprofit links for today:

  • 'Simple Success Fundraising Plan'-This post from Sandy Rees is a handy step-by-step guide on how to help your nonprofit create a solid fundraising plan.  Must-read material whether you are new to fundraising or not.
  • 'What's on Your Wall?'-No, this is not a post about Facebook, it's actually about normal walls!  Yeah, remember those?  Anyway, this is an entertaining yet insightful blog post from Ken Burnett about how to best use your bare office walls; both to make your office look better, and to help office morale.
  • 'How to Determine What Salary to Ask For'-This is a topic many job-seekers struggle with.  On one hand, they want to be paid fairly; but on the other, they don't want to look greedy.  After reading this great article from USA Today, job hunters should have at least a better idea on how to negotiate their salary.  I should probably do a post on this subject at some point...

Why Use a Nonprofit Job Board

We live in a digital age. Although there are still a good amount of people who still purchase and read newspapers, more and more people are relying on the Internet for many things (according to Google, 78% of the US was connected to the Internet in 2009), including job searching. Indeed, a nonprofit job board is becoming the main way for job seekers to get work in the nonprofit sector these days. Most nonprofit organizations have caught onto this trend, and are beginning to put their listings on these job boards. However, there are still some companies that are continuing to rely on print for their job postings. Although change is hard, if your organization is among these companies, it is imperative to start using a nonprofit job board to attract the highest quality candidates out there. At the end of the day, using these job boards presents many advantages over traditional job ads.

One of the big disadvantages of using print classified ads for your job postings is the space constraints. The majority of newspapers and magazines place strict word counts on job ads, which makes it hard to put a detailed description of the position. As a result, potential job candidates will have less of an idea of what the job entails. On a job board, however, the word counts are less hampering. Most allow you to write up to 1,400 words, which allows plenty of room to give the reader an excellent idea of what will be expected of them. Of course, with these additional words comes additional responsibilities. Simply put, it is not enough to just say the job requirements; a non profit job board listing should also give the job seeker an idea of what kind of work they will be doing, what they will learn, and who they will be working. Basically, it must also let them know what's in it for them.

Another reason to use nonprofit job boards is to reach the most active job seekers. I hinted at this before, but these individuals do most of their job searching on the Internet, not in print. You are going to want to get the most bang for your buck out of a job ad, and the Internet is the best way to get that. While a newspaper can be thrown away or easily lost, an online job posting will exist as long for as the time you paid for. In addition, many nonprofit job boards allow, for an additional fee, you to have make your posting a featured job, which gets it placed on the site's front page. This is the kind of feature that makes using a job board so helpful for your organization's future.

So the next time you have a job opening, make sure to take advantage of the ease of use the Internet offers, and use a nonprofit job board.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/9/2011

Hope everyone had a good Mother's Day!  If you haven't already, check out my latest post, which includes a story from a reader's experience as a nonprofit volunteer; and how it led him to a full time job.  And after you do that, you can see the latest non profit job links:

  • '4 Free Ways to Learn Code Online'-This post from Mashable doesn't directly relate to nonprofit jobs, but it is a helpful thing to read if you want to do web work for nonprofit organizations.  I would still recommend taking a basic HTML course, but the links in this article are definitely helpful to build up your knowledge of coding.
  • 'How to Make the Case for Social Media at Your Organization'-Do you work at a nonprofit that is hesitant to delve into the world of social media?  Read this blog from Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog to discover the best ways to convince your organization to use this technology.
  • '7 Better Ways to Thank Someone in Your Business Network'-This blog post from Mojo40 stresses the importance of sending thank you notes to people who have helped you get a job.  Not only is it the polite thing to do, but it can also help you in the future if you need to use that reference again.  After all, why is someone going to want to continue helping you if you seemingly don't appreciate their service?

The Benefits of Volunteering: A True Story

I have talked in the past about the benefits of volunteering for nonprofit organizations, and how all that hard work could eventually land you the job of your dreams.  It may be true that it doesn't always work out that way, but it certainly gives you a better chance.  I have heard from plenty of people in the nonprofit sector tell me how badly they need volunteers, and today I want to share a story from someone who experienced success from his volunteer work. 

Recently, I had been searching for tips from people who work (or have worked) in nonprofits.  To be honest, I wasn't even thinking about the volunteering aspect, but I was reminded of its importance when I received an e-mail from a man named Stephen Anfield.  Anfield, who is 30 years old, told me that he found the best way to get a non profit job was "volunteering at an organization whose mission/vision you believe in."  And this is not just talk; Anfield is living proof of this.  He was recently mentioned in a piece on this very subject on SmartMoney.com.  Over a year ago, he began volunteering at AARP in Washington, DC, on top of a part-time PR job he had.  While the work was basically office your standard office jobs (writing blog posts, making PowerPoint presentations, etc), it eventually all paid off for Mr. Anfield.  After six months, he got paid work with the help of an AARP employee.  I'll leave it to Mr. Anfield to explain the whole story:

I started volunteering at AARP (Create the Good). They knew that I was looking for employment, so they referred me to a firm they use for temporary employees (since I was not a registered business). The company was called A10 Clinical, and they are based out of Cary, NC. I was working at AARP in Washington, DC.

After my time with AARP, a colleague then referred me to the AARP Foundation where I worked as a consultant. I served as the benefits access project coordinator and led 11 (retired) volunteers.

My contract with AARP has come to an end, but I was able to find a full-time employment by networking at AARP. Today is my first day with Marc Freedman's organization, Civic Ventures. I am now working on the national communications team in Washington, DC office.

So as you can see, there is a lot of benefits to doing volunteer work.  Sure, it may be hard to work for no pay, but if you make a good impression, like Stephen Anfield did, you could eventually find yourself with a full time job at a great non profit job. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/6/2011

Next week, I want to write a post with tips from nonprofit professionals.  If you fit that description, please e-mail your tips to me at zach@nptimes.com.  You will, of course, be cited.  Thanks in advanced!  Oh, and don't forget: it's Mother's Day this Sunday!

  • This is not related to nonprofit jobs, but I thought I would have one link related to Mother's Day today.  It's a post from the Gates Foundation about what Melinda Gates is thinking about this year on Mother's Day.  Very insightful and moving.
  • I lied, basically all of these links will have something to do with Mother's Day.  Here's some Mother's Day marketing tips from Marketing Edge.
  • 'Relationships Matter Most'-This post from NTEN gives one of the most important tips for fundraising: building relationships.

Nonprofit Job Search Tips: Things to Avoid

Over the course of a nonprofit job search, it is normal to get into some bad habits, especially if the search has lasted a long time.  Maybe, in our frustration, we start to spend less time than we should scouring nonprofit job boards.  Or perhaps we don't put as much effort as we once did into resumes and cover letters.  We might start to wonder why we should put effort into something that isn't giving any positive results back.  While it is tempting to think about things this way, this is exactly the kind of attitude job seekers must strive to avoid, as it leads to bad job search habits.  So on this Friday before the weekend, let me go over some of the habits you should avoid on your job search:

  1. Not doing any additional work after finishing an application: A lot of times, job seekers think their work is done once they submit their resume and cover letter in a job application.  Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, the work has only begun.  As you are probably aware, competition for nonprofit jobs couldn't be higher these days.  As such, you have to do everything you can to separate yourself from other applicants.  You can do this by using sites like LinkedIn to see if you know any employees at the company to help get your resume to the top of the pile.
  2. Spending less time job hunting: There is no doubt that applying for jobs is not the most exciting task in the world.  It becomes even less fun when you seemingly are throwing your resume into the void.  It would be easy to convince yourself that you are expending too much energy on the job search, and that you need to spend less time doing it.  While it is true that you can spend too much time on it, you also need to make sure you are putting the right amount of effort in.  Realistically, you should spend about three to five hours a couple of times a week on job search related activities. 
  3. Not doing enough research on the jobs you apply to: Does a job description sound too good to be true?  Maybe it is.  That's why all nonprofit job seekers should do ample research on the organization they apply to.  This includes researching the salary and benefits they offer, the atmosphere of the workplace, and whether the goal of the nonprofit meshes with your beliefs.  Remember, in order to do your best work as an employee, you have to feel comfortable at your workplace.
  4. Not editing e-mails sent to employers: One of the best ways to make a bad impression on a potential employer is to send a sloppily written e-mail.  Trust me, if there is even one typo in your message, it is likely you won't even be considered for the job.  Even if you don't think there are spelling or grammar errors in your message, you should always proofread it before you click "send."  If possible, you should also have someone else read it over, as often times we can overlook errors in our own writing. 
  5. Giving into negative thinking: I hinted at this at the beginning of this post, so it's only fitting that I end with it as well.  It is so easy to get frustrated with a nonprofit job search, especially when things aren't going as planned.  And just telling yourself that everyone else is going through the same thing doesn't always make it easier.  So what can you do to avoid getting frustrated?  There isn't really one good answer, but I do have a couple of suggestions.  For me, I always found that listening to some of my favorite music helped make the search a little more bearable.  And though this might sound like a contradiction of what I said earlier, you should consider taking a short break if you are finding that the frustration is hindering your progress.  Take a quick walk outside and get some fresh air (if it's a nice day, of course), or do something that makes you feel happy.  Then, when you are refreshed, go back and go after those jobs with renewed energy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Career Round-Up: 5/5/2011

Nonprofit job links for today:

  • 'Shedding the Stain of Joblessness'-This is an insightful article from The Guardian, a British newspaper, that talks about how many companies have the propensity to not hire people who have been unemployed long term, even if they have the same skills as somebody who has a better job record.
  • 'Part-Time Jobs That Pay Well and Teach You a Skill'-This post from Lifehacker.com, gets rid of the myth that part-time jobs are not worth your time.  While you are searching for the perfect non profit job, you should  try your hand at some part-time work.  Remember, some work looks better on your resume than no work.
  • 'How to Market Yourself in the Nonprofit Sector'-From Bridgestar, this is a good article on how to best sell yourself when you apply for nonprofit jobs.  This is an important skill to have; after all, someone with the same skills as you can ultimately land the job you want because that person might have presented themselves better than you.

How To Judge a Job Posting

Almost everyday, a job posting is placed on job boards across the Internet.  With the onset of the digital age, job seekers are using these sites more and more as their preferred method of employment search.  Yet not all job postings are created equal.  It is up to you, the nonprofit job hunter, to determine which jobs are worth your time and effort.  Of course, it will not always be so obvious which jobs are not up to par; it's not always as simple as the job doesn't pay well enough, or something like that.  Sometimes, you have to look a little deeper to find out the quality of the organization that is writing the ad.

The first thing you should do when looking at a job posting is to determine the level of effort put into it.  Most online job boards allow employers to enter up to 1,400 words to describe the position.  Now don't worry, you won't have to individually count the words to see if they used them all.  What you need to do here is see if the employer describes the position in a way that leaves no doubt in your mind what you will be expected to do.  If, on the other hand, the job posting reads as if it were just copy and pasted from a stock description, you have to ask yourself whether this is the kind of organization you would want to work for.

Another thing to keep in mind is what the position is going to offer you.  A poor jobs posting will focus on only one thing: the requirements you have to meet to be the ideal candidate.  This is definitely something an employer will need to know, but it is also not enough to attract top candidates.  A good job posting will also add what you, the potential nonprofit employee, will get to learn, who you will be working with, and what you will ultimately accomplish. 

Finally, you should keep an eye out for job postings that not only describe the position, but also the culture of the company.  Let's face it, your dream job is not only going to have to gel with the skills you have, but it's also going to have to be a place you look forward to going to every morning.  The ideal non profit job is going to be a place that is serious, yet also has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  There is nothing worse than having to work in an environment where interaction is limited.  If you eventually go in for an interview, this is the kind of information you can confirm by observing the interactions of the other employees.

Remember, you don't have to apply to every jobs posting that catches your interest.  There is no need to expend energy on an organization that doesn't put the same amount of effort into writing their ads.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Job Key Words-Tips and Strategies

Everyday, there are millions of non profit jobs posted on job boards. How is a job seeker supposed to weed out the ones the jobs they really want from the ones that are irrelevant? Thankfully for job seekers everywhere, most online job boards offer the ability to search for a position by its job key words. What are job key words? Simply put, they are the terms that help describe the skills that are needed for the position. Now, like any job search skill, entering the right job keyword is an art; if you are too broad with your search, you might have trouble finding your dream job. So with that in mind, here are some strategies to help you enter the right job key words:
  • First off, you should make sure that every job keyword you enter is in lower-case letters. This might go against our grammatical instincts, but it is necessary to do this if you want to get the best results back. Why? Well, if you capitalize a key word, the system is only going to send back jobs that has that word capitalized. If you have everything in lower-case, on the other hand, it will send back results whether the word is capitalized or not.
  • If you are trying to find a job that requires two specific keywords, make sure to use the word AND between them. For example, if you wanted a marketing/PR job, your search would be marketing AND PR. You may have noticed I capitalized "and;" this is not just for emphasis. This is because the word "and" is a Boolean Operator, which means it is telling the system a specific command. In this case, it is telling the job board to return all jobs that require both marketing and PR skills.
  • In the same vain, use the Boolean Operator "OR" if the keywords you search for are both acceptable for the non profit job you want. For example, you can search for jobs in "New York City OR Trenton."
  • If you are not sure which key words best describe the job you want, take a look at your resume and enter the terms that you list under the skills you list.
  • Use quotations if the keyword you are using is a phrase, and not a word (such as "well paying job).
Hopefully, you will find these job key word tips helpful to you. Now that you have a basic idea of how to best search for nonprofit jobs, head on over to our job board and get started!

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/4/2011

Happy Star Wars Day everybody!  What?  You didn't know that May 4th was Star Wars Day?  Well, you do now!  With that in mind, here are today's nonprofit links:

Why Non Profit Blogs Are Important

I've been on a roll with technology subjects, so I figured I would continue down that path.  Way back when, I suggested that it would be a good idea for job seekers to create their own non profit blogs, as it could be a helpful thing to put in a resume.  Blogging isn't for everybody, though, so it isn't something that everybody is going to want to do.  This doesn't mean you should ignore non profit blogs, however.  On the contrary, reading these blogs should be a big part of your research on nonprofit organizations.  And luckily for you, there are plenty of non profit blogs to check out.  Here are some of the best nonprofit blogs out there:

There are plenty more, of course, but this post isn't about which ones you should check out; it's about why reading a non profit blog is so important.  And why is that?  Even if you consider yourself an expert in all things nonprofit, it always helps to get more information about the latest happenings in the nonprofit sector.  And if you are new to the field, it is even more important to learn all you can from these blogs. 

What's more is that, more often than not, an individual running a blog about nonprofits is usually working at one themselves.  I wouldn't recommend immediately e-mailing this person and asking about any job openings, but there is no harm in asking them for any tips they could give you.   Although nonprofit bloggers are very busy, they will be more than happy to eventually answer your e-mail and help you out; after all, they were in the same position as you at one point.  And who knows, this blogger could eventually become a valuable networking contact for you after some point. 

And though I mentioned this is in the past, it's worth repeating again: having an extensive knowledge of the many nonprofit blogs out there is a good way to impress at job interviews.  If these are popular enough blogs, it is likely that nonprofit employees often look at them.  So if there is an opportunity to bring these blogs up (this is key; don't just randomly mention them), feel free to name drop them at interviews.

So even if you were never a big fan of blogs to begin with, it is a good idea to start reading these non profit blogs.  When it comes to your job search, you really do need to expand your horizon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How Facebook Can Help Your Job Search

In my last blog post, I talked about how job seekers can use Twitter to enhance their job search.  While I do believe Twitter is one of the best ways to find new nonprofit jobs, this is not to say other social networking sites are useless; far from it.  In fact, another good one to use is probably one you are already using (whether you like it or not): Facebook.  With a Facebook job search, your efforts are going to be focused on one thing: networking.

The first thing you should do on Facebook while job hunting is to let all of your connections know that you are looking for work.  This can come in the form of a status update, a mass message to all of your friends, or both.  Your real good friends will probably already know this, but not everyone you know on Facebook will have an idea about your job situation.  Therefore, it is a good idea to make sure your Facebook connections know this.  You might be thinking to yourself: can this really help?  Well, check out this article from Time Magazine, where an unemployed man actually got work when one of his friends got him a job interview at a company he worked at.  Although he didn't end up getting the job (his skills didn't match with what they worked with), he was able to get a job interview very quick using Facebook.

Another way to approach the Facebook job search is to start "liking" the various Facebook pages of nonprofits.  Often times, as is the case with Twitter, these pages will be updated with the latest job openings at their organizations. 

As useful as social networking sites like Facebook are when it comes to job searching, you should never use it as your sole source for jobs.  Instead, like I always says, you must use Facebook or Twitter in combination with other sources, like nonprofit job boards or traditional networking.  Together, these tools will make your job search go a lot smoother than just relying on one method.

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/3/2011

No pithy thoughts today, sorry.  Instead, I will just lead you right into today's non profit job links:

  • 'Making the Most of Your Internship'-From The Case Foundation's blog, this article is particularly insightful as it is written by an actual intern at the organization, Lauren Scherr.  Ms. Scherr gives some great tips, direct from her own experiences, on how to make your nonprofit internship pay off for you in the future.  This is one of those must read posts, in my view.
  • 'Nonprofit Marketing: Whose Job is it Anyways?'-This post from XFactor Consulting lays out how responsibilities should be doled out at nonprofit marketing jobs.
  • Finally, here's a good post from a blog I just discovered: "Get a Job!"  It has some rather bold tips on how to best improve your resume.  For instance, the author (Kathy Bernard), says that you should delete the objective section of your resume.  To be honest, I never thought about that.  I can't say I necessarily agreed the first time I read that, but the more I think about it, the more it makes a little bit of sense.

Career Advancement With Twitter

Like it or not, we live in a day and age where technology has become a huge part of our lives. There is almost nothing that we do these days that does not involve some sort of technology. This is becoming especially true when it comes to career advancement.  I already mentioned how social media can be used by recruiters, but it can also be used to help job seekers as well. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are becoming popular destinations to quickly find out about the latest open positions at nonprofits. So how can you best utilize social media in your career planning?

There are many social media sites at your disposal, though it might be a bit overwhelming to use all of them.  If you had to choose one for your job search, however, it should be Twitter.  There are already a number of nonprofit organizations that utilize Twitter to broadcast their latest jobs, so it provides a great opportunity to quickly get a heads up on the latest nonprofit jobs.  Once you have set up your Twitter account, the next thing you need to know about are hashtags. Hashtags are best known as this symbol (#), and in Twitter, they are used to tag your 'Tweets.' The minute your Twitter profile is set up, you should do a search for #nonprofitjobs. This is the hashtag that The Nonprofit Jobseeker uses when we post the latest nonprofit jobs on our Twitter account, and it is also used by other nonprofit job boards. You should follow all of these Twitters; now, anytime they tweet about a new non profit job, it will automatically be posted to your Twitter feed.

Of course, there is more to helping your career advancement using social media than following people on Twitter. In order to get the most out of this useful tool, you need to use it to its full potential. This means you need to interact with other Twitterers who have similar interests to you: in this case. So after you are following all the job boards/nonprofits you want, you should begin to search for people who are also looking for nonprofit jobs, or even those who have them already. Twitter is very helpful in this respect, because they have a list of people you should follow, based on the people you are already following. You should make conversation with these people, asking them how they found their jobs, and if they could give you any career advice. Who knows, maybe you will find your next job by talking to one of thse individuals. You can almost look at like networking, without all the traveling!

With millions of people using Twitter today, you will find that it is an invaluable tool to advance your nonprofit career. Maybe you have had reservations about joining Twitter in the past, but today is the day to put those misgivings away and take your career advancement to the next level.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Nonprofit Managers Must Build Trust

Cross posted from the NPTimes Blog...

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Our distrust is very expensive." When it comes to nonprofit managers and CEOs, this couldn't be more true. Let's face it, for a nonprofit to be successful, its employees have to trust the head of the organization. Without this, performance can suffer and, as a result, so will the organization's mission.

John Hamm (not that one, in case you are wondering), talks about how important trust is for company leaders in his new book, Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills Required for the Practice of Great Leadership. As the title of the book implies, it gives leaders nine tips on how to get employees to trust them. Here are some of these tips that Hamm mentions in his book:

• Hamm stresses that you don't have to act like a "boy scout" to gain the trust of your employees. In fact, he writes that the best leaders are those who don't try to act like anybody other than themselves. In fact, it's very easy to see how a manager or other leader who acts too kind might seem suspicious to employees.

• Along the same lines, Hamm wrote that it's important for a leader to look for chances to show that they are human by proving that they have authentic fears, imperfections, and emotions. He gives the example of a CEO named "Carl" who grew up in humble surroundings. Carl always told stories of his hard upbringing while leading his employees, as he knew this would make them feel more comfortable around him; it made him more accessible and, in turn, more trustworthy. To me, this was the most surprising tip Hamm gave; it's something I never thought of before, as we are often taught to hide our emotions from those we work with.

• Another interesting point was Hamm's mention of the so-called "adulterer's guarantee." Essentially, this is when a leader tells an employee that they lied to someone else, but that they would never lie to you. Some think doing this would show an employee that their boss is behind them, but it really just exposes the leader as a dishonest person. If this leader would lie to someone else, why should an employee believe they are not lying to them? And is usually the case with these situations, the story of this incident will spread, hurting morale.

• Finally, Hamm wrote that a leader should never punish "good failures." These are failures that occur despite an organization doing everything right, and are usually associated with taking a calculated risk for a project. By punishing employees for these "failures," employees will be more averse to taking risks in their work. And since risk-taking is the key for any organization's success, this is most definitely a bad thing. Instead, leaders should strive to create a culture where innovation is promoted, so that all these good failures can eventually lead to something successful.

If you are interested in learning more about Unusually Excellent, visit the book's website.

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 5/2/2011

As I'm sure you have all heard by now, Osama bin Laden was killed yesterday, marking the end of the line for the leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist network, and one of the masterminds behind the horrific 9/11 attacks. It's hard to say for sure whether the families of 9/11 victims will find closure in this news all these years later.  Before I get to today's nonprofit job links, I'd like to link you to this story just posted by The NonProfit Times; it's about how 9/11 charities will fair after the death of bin Laden.  It's definitely an interesting read.  Anyway, on with the normal routine...

  • Here is yet another great post by Job-Hunt.org.  This one shows a sample resume and lists things that are wrong with it.  If you are having trouble with your nonprofit resume, I highly recommend reading this post.
  • Not to toot my own horn here, but I would like to direct you to this post I wrote on our nonprofit job board.  It's about how to use Twitter to your advantage during your job search.  Yeah, I know: shameless self-promotion.
  • 'Interview Tips for College Students'-The title says it all, really.  I've already written a lot about college graduates, so I thought this would be an appropriate article to share.

Hiring Tips: Social Media Recruitment

In today's day of technology, it's becoming more and more attractive to use more advanced job recruitment techniques in addition to the more traditional routes. In this case, one method that is becoming more popular is social media recruitment. By using social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can more effectively recruit some of the top job candidates in the non profit sector.

Of course, you don't even necessarily have to use Twitter (or Facebook) yourself in order to get your non profit jobs seen by social media users. All you have to do is add a simple widget that allows readers to easily share the news of your job opening with others on social media sites. If your organization already has a blog, this is the perfect place to post job news. Ideally, this blog will already have a large following, so you will know that the information about your latest job opening will be seen by thousands of people. And in turn, those people will have the ability to share that with other interested people through their social media sites.

Ah, the wonders of technology.

If you do create your own Twitter or Facebook account, however, one of the most important aspects you will need to master is interaction. You will want to make your online presence as welcoming as you can. One of the best ways to do this is to show you are, you know, human. Let's face it, people are not going to want to connect with you if your presence seems automated. This means you should avoid copy/pasted statements, and put some life into your words. For instance, when you set up a Twitter account for your nonprofit organization, you definitely want to get the word out about your latest job opening, but you should also tweet things that encourage discussion amongst your followers, like interesting news items. This will allow you to get a good idea of how they might interact with others if they were working at your non profit organization.

In the end, social media recruiting is really just an online version of networking. The only difference is you are dealing with a much larger group of candidates. And because social media is used by so many people today, you have the added benefit of reaching a much larger audience than if you posted your job recruitment ads in a newspaper. Transitioning your job outreach to an online arena may be difficult for some nonprofits but at the end of the day, it is something that will make your organization stronger and more competitive in the long run.