Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Personal Branding Rules

Communicating your value to an employer is half the battle of getting a nonprofit job.  That's why personal branding is a handy tool for job seekers.

The success of your personal branding can make or break your job search.  If you do it right, employers will see the value you could bring to their organization.  If you don't, they will be left wondering why they should bring you into the fold.  Your brand should leave employers with no doubt about your abilities.  It should encompass the types of problems you solve, how you solve them, and the situations in which you excel.

How do you go about spreading your personal brand?  Here are some rules to get started:
  • Your personal brand is not about you.  Kind of blows your mind, right?  You should be conveying to the employer how your skills will be of value to the organization.
  • Your brand should change with every new opportunity you are presented.  The strengths that you emphasize must change based on your audience.  For example, you would highlight your people skills at an organization that works extensively with the local community.
  • It's not what you want to hear, but you're going to have to do all the heavy lifting.  A nonprofit doesn't have time to figure out your value.  It's up to you to communicate your worth clearly and concisely.  If it takes more than one reading to see your value, you will have to go back to the drawing board.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Managing Nonprofit Diversity Conflict

Diversity has become the goal at every level of American life. Efforts to promote it have been rightfully applauded. Here's the real question: Are organizations correctly handling these efforts?

One reason people flock toward nonprofit jobs is the diversity in culture and the working backgrounds they support. There is a bigger lesson organizations missed if they are only promoting diversity for diversity's sake. In his book "The End of Diversity as We Know It," Martin R. Davidson argues that a better aim is to embrace and build upon differences among employees.

Davidson, who was a chief development officer at the University of Virginia, also acknowledges that diversity initiatives can cause resistance and even conflict among employees. This can manifest itself in what Davidson calls "identity abrasions," feelings of resentment or defensiveness that come up when people are criticized for being insensitive or ignorant. He wrote that to make these teachable moments positive experiences for all parties involved, he recommends human resources officers implement five "principles of behavior." They are:
  • Pausing: There is a natural tendency to react, but taking time to identify feelings and consider options helps in responding effectively to criticism.
  • Connecting to larger goals: Meaningful goals make it easier to remember why it is worth engaging with another.
  • Questioning yourself: This will help you come to a realistic and accurate understanding of what is happening in the exchange.
  • Seeking out balanced support: Rather than just complaining to your friends who will have your back, seek out the counsel of trusted colleagues.
  • Shifting mindset towards opportunity: It takes persistent willingness to be introspective.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nonprofit That Helps The Jobless In Danger

A nonprofit organization created to help the jobless get back to work is in danger of closing because of budget issues.

Stltoday.com reported today that the Go! Network is running short on money and might not survive the summer.  The organization, which is run by executive director Roni Chambers, was created during the midst of the Great Recession and is designed to help unemployed mid-level executives.  4,000 executives have made their way to the Go! Network since February 2009, and 68 percent of them found new employment.  Chambers assumed co-leadership of the nonprofit after her own lay-off from Anheuser-Busch in 2010.

The Go! Network relies solely on private donations, and Chambers sees the nonprofit running out of cash if things don't change soon.  Its co-leader, David Greenwalt, recently left for a full-time paid position leaving all the responsibility for the organization in Chambers' hands.  The Network has already outlasted its original expected life-span of 12 months when it was founded in early 2009.

Chambers has solicited help from donors but has been told that their priorities rest with helping the homeless, not the jobless.  Ironically, the Go! Network was founded in part to prevent members of the middle-class from slipping into homelessness.

You can read more about this story on Stlouistoday.com.

Featured Nonprofit Job: Higher Education Research and Policy Analyst

Looking for a nonprofit job in sunny Atlanta, GA?  The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) has just the position for you.

Effective immediately, SEF is looking for a highly motivated candidate to fill its brand new Higher Education Research and Policy Analyst role.  This position is being created to help expand SEF's ability to conduct research, analyze policy, and develop programming to improve access to college and degree completion nationally.  A particular focus will be placed on the successs of low-income and minority students.  As such, all interested applicants should have a strong passion for working with these types of students, and a strong knowledge of Minority-Serving institutions.

Interested in this position?  Before you apply, make sure you fit the following requirements:
  • A doctorate degree in higher education, public policy, or a related field.
  • Experience with conducting higher education research and reporting.
  • Communication skills are a must, including written, oral, and electronic.
Along with the submission of your resume and cover letter, also submit a writing sample and the contact information for at least three references.  Apply for this job today at NPT Jobs!

Using Social Media To Get A New Job

Social media is the flavor of the month right now.  Everybody seems to have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever new site pops up.  But can you really "like" or "tweet" your way to a new nonprofit job?

It's important to keep in mind that social networking should only be used as a compliment to traditional networking but, having said that, it can definitely help you with your job search.  One of the best things about social media is that it makes researching an organization much easier.  Reading the company website is useful, but only social media will give you the best idea of the company culture.  Look at pictures of recent company outings and see how representatives interact with their followers to get a better idea of how you would fit in at the organization.

I mentioned above how social networking should be used in conjunction with traditional networking.  There is no better example of this than using social media to get in touch with former colleagues or old friends.  By making a simple status update on Facebook or sending a tweet on Twitter, all of your contacts will know that you are looking a job.  Who knows, one of your friends may know someone at an organization you are looking to join.

Once you get a job interview, you can utilize social media sources to learn more about your interviewer.  Knowing this person's background will help you customize your talking points and come prepared with better interview questions.  It can also make for some good small talk, which can never be underestimated.  For example, you could discover that your interviewer graduated from the same school as you.  Even if you don't get the job, the interviewer may be motivated to help a fellow alumni.

How do you use social media in your job search?  Tell us your experiences in the comments section.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nonprofit Jobs On The Rise

A new study by Johns Hopkins University is giving job seekers yet another reason to flock towards nonprofit jobs.

The NonProfit Times wrote about the report from the Baltimore, Md.-based school that showed that jobs in the nonprofit sector increased an average of 2.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, while for-profit jobs decreased by an average of 0.6 percent annually.  This trend even held up during the height of the Great Recession (between 2007 and 2009), with nonprofit employment increasing at an average of 1.9 percent per year while for-profit work declined.  The only year in the past decade that nonprofits didn't outperform for-profits was 2005, when both sectors reported a 2-percent increase in jobs.

If you are wondering which industries increased the most, the JHU study has answers to that, too.  It cited the greatest increase in jobs in the following fields: Healthcare, education, and social assistance.  Those three happen to be the largest employers in the nonprofit sector, with healthcare jobs making up 57 percent of the nonprofit workforce.

There was one bit of negative news for nonprofits.  According to the report, for-profit businesses outpaced nonprofit growth when it came to social assistance, education, and nursing home care.  As a result, nonprofits in these fields lost market share to for-profits.  The reasons for this aren't exactly clear, but insiders are blaming market conditions and the moral tenets of competing industries, which tend to become muddled in tough economic times.

You can read more about JHU's study of nonprofit jobs in The NonProfit Times.

10 Steps To A Modern Resume

Does your resume feel old?  Does it produce dust when you touch it?  Then it's time to do some updating to bring it into the 21st century.

Resumes are a lot different than they were years ago.  If you don't get with the times, you'll find your application resume collecting more dust.  Thanks to new conventions and the rise of applicant tracking software (ATS), employers are more strict than ever about which resumes make it past the sniff test.

Nervous?  Not to worry, there are plenty of easy ways to get your resume up to date.  Here are 10 tips to get you on track:
  • Include a professional or executive summary at the top of your resume, followed by a bulleted list of qualifications and achievements.
  • Don't use abbreviations.  An ATS is unlikely to have them programmed into its list of job key words.
  • Speaking of key words, it's not enough to just litter them throughout your resume.  Frame them with material that demonstrates your expertise in the subject.
  • Don't include any graphics, logos, or other pictures.
  • Avoid the use of exclamation points or all-caps letters.  Use only standard capitalization.
  • Mention if you are being referred to the organization by a current employee.
  • Put your contact information, including phone number and e-mail, at the top of the page.  It's easier to miss at the bottom.
  • Order your previous work experience by most recent.  Employers are more interested in the work you have done recently.
  • Your dates should be in the month/year format.  Specific days are not necessary.
  • The length of your resume should be based on the amount of experience you have.  For example, a recent college graduate's resume shouldn't be more than a page or two.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Responding To Job Applications

The most common complaint among job seekers is that the application process can seem like a "black hole."  They feel that there is little chance their job application will ever be read when they click "submit" on that nonprofit job application.

As an HR manager, you know well enough that job applications do get read.  But with the amount that come in everyday, it's nearly impossible to respond to them all personally.  It's easy to understand, then, why job applicants feel as if they are sending their resumes out in vain.

Although it might be unreasonable to personally respond to every resume and cover letter, today's technology offers alternatives that give candidates assurance that their application has been received.  Most e-mail programs have the ability to send an automatic reply to incoming messages.  This is usually used when you are planning to be out of the office, but you can also use it for the hiring process.  The key is to set up an e-mail address used specifically for hiring new employees, and have an auto responder that ensures the sender that their application was received.  An automatic response might seem impersonal, but job seekers do appreciate at least knowing their information was received.

You should also be sure to set reasonable expectations for applicants.  You can do this by putting a note in your job description or automatic responder that lets the candidate know what information they can expect to receive from you.  For example:

"Since we receive so many job applications every day, we will be unable to respond to your requests personally.  If you do not receive a response from us within the next X weeks, it means we have chosen another candidate."
A message like that will give the individual a better idea of the timeline that your organization uses to determine who they will interview.

What other suggestions do you have for responding to job applications?  Leave your feedback in the comments section.

Personalize Your Cover Letter

There's one rule of thumb to follow when writing a cover letter for a nonprofit job: Be unique.  The less generic your letter is, the better chance it has of being read.

The temptation to write a generic cover letter is great.  This method increases productivity, but it also leads to worse results.  Think about it from the employer's perspective: They receive hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes everyday, and most of them probably categorized as generic.  A job application that has a vanilla cover letter or resume will almost always go into the "rejected" pile.

One person's generic is another's unique, so how can you be sure that your cover letter rings true to an organization?  I have one word for you: Personalization.  Here are some tips to make your letter more unique for each job:
  • Instead of addressing the cover letter to unnamed "hiring managers," find out their name.  Avoid "To Whom It May Concern" openings at all costs.
  • Don't just say you've done something, show specific examples of your accomplishments.  Make sure these anecdotes are used to show strength in an area that employer identified as a need.  This will prove that you read their job description thoroughly.
  • Don't leave out any specific instructions from the job description.  There's no better way to write a generic cover letter than ignoring specific requests from the employer.
  • List your interest in the specific job for which you are applying.  It might sound obvious, but many job seekers list skills in their cover letter that have nothing to do with the job in question.  This makes it seem like you simply copied a previous letter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Planning The Hiring Process

Cross-Posted From The NonProfit Times Blog

After much debate, your organization has identified the area that needs help and has posted the corresponding advertisement to an online job board.  Now what?

There's a lot of work ahead of you while you wait for qualified applicants to apply.  One of the things you can do to make this work a little less painful is to lay out a hiring process.  In his book "Nonprofit Management 101," Darian Rodriguez Heyman says having such a plan is essential to evaluate candidates.  He stresses that any hiring process should allow applicants multiple opportunities to provide evidence of their past success.

Heyman recommends the following process to successfully narrow down your nonprofit's pool of applicants:
  • Job application review
  • Phone screen
  • Initial in-person job interview
  • Follow-up interview (as many as you deem necessary)
  • Reference and background checks
  • Negotiation and hiring
Each of these stages should involve what Heyman calls the "four tenets" of an effective hiring process:
  • Clarity: Everyone involved knows exactly what you want.
  • Consistency: Every candidate participates in the same process.
  • Equity: Every candidate is treated equally.
  • Legality: The process is nondiscriminatory.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Job Search In Your 20s

We've already seen what the job search is like for people who have a wealth of experience, but what's in store for those who are much younger?  For job seekers in their 20s, it's all about taking risks.

Recent college graduates generally don't have a lot to stand on when it comes to previous work experience.  But just because there isn't much time for actual work doesn't mean the job search should wait until college is done.  A college student should begin their hunt the moment they declare a major.  This work should start with building a professional network.  There are plenty of people out there who are willing to help, whether they are professors or family friends.

College students can also use their time to try out different career paths until they find one that fits.  It's not a good idea to graduate without having a career in mind.  That's why students should be on the lookout for opportunities during summer or winter break.  Organizations are always looking for volunteers or interns, and these opportunities will help build experience for post-college life.  Working for free isn't exactly an appealing choice, but all of that hard work will be worth it when it comes time to put together a resume.

What other advice would you have for college job seekers?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Conducing A Job Analysis

How well do you know the jobs at your nonprofit?  Even if you think you have it all covered, it's important to undergo a thorough analysis of the positions at your organization.

A job analysis identifies and describes what is happening in the jobs at a nonprofit.  All organizations must undergo this process, as it helps to differentiate job and performance requirements based on job content, specifications, and working conditions.  All of this information will be crucial when developing a job description.

In  "The Big Book Of HR," Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem describe the information your organization should obtain in a job analysis:
  • A job's context or its purpose, its work environment, and its place in the organization.
  • The duties and responsibilities that employees carry out in the position.
  • How people in the job are expected to act while accomplishing their work.
In order to get this information, you should:
  • Get direct employee and supervisor input.
  • Gather data from multiple incumbents and supervisors.
  • Use techniques that yield data that is concise, easy to update, and limits bias.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Explaining Short Employment Stints On A Resume

Any good hiring manager is going to raise their eyebrows a little bit when they see short employment stints on a job applicant's resume.  They have reason to be skeptical, but there are often good explanations behind this.  It's all a matter of explaining it properly.

You have probably worked somewhere that you left for a simple reason: You hated it.  It may be the truth, but this is one of those times where the truth is going to hurt you.  If you take a much deeper look, you will discover more professional reasons to explain why you left a company.  Instead of ragging on your former employer, use these positive answers and techniques to ease a hiring manager's fears:
  • "The job wasn't suited to my needs professionally."
  • "I was offered a much better opportunity."
  • "X organization was a fantastic place to work, and I enjoyed the short period I was there.  Unfortunately, the direction of the organization changed not long after I got there, and I just felt it was time to move on."
  • Here's another good tip: Bring up the issue before the interviewer does, but remember to not be defensive.
  • You can also bring this up before the interview by including a detailed explanation in your cover letter.
Job seekers are judged, fairly or unfairly, on the words that come out of their mouths.  Don't ruin a potentially good opportunity by coming off as negative or petty.

L.A. Nonprofit Gets Money To Cut Unemployment

Unemployment benefit claims are down, but that doesn't mean unemployment is no longer a problem.  And one Los Angeles-based nonprofit just got some help to get people back to work.

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that Chrysalis, a nonprofit that helps L.A. residents with job training, will get $200,000 over the next two years from a coalition of businesses to enhance the nonprofit's programs.  These enhancements will come in the form of a new nonprofit called Downtown Works, which will expand Chrysalis's one-day training courses into more intensive classes.  The courses for Downtown Works will be run by Chrysalis, but the organization itself will be run by The Central City Association of Los Angeles, a downtown L.A.-based business advocacy group. 

Chrysalis has predicted that of the 450 clients expected to go through the program over the next two years, at least 60 percent, or 270, will find new jobs within the next six months.  The organization has already helped many people in L.A. such as Greg Price, who after spending 31 years in prison for murder, was able to get training in technology.  That experience helped him get work in the Old Bank District.  The hope is that the new planned employment services will further cut unemployment and homelessness.

You can learn more about Downtown Works in The Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Unemployment Benefit Claims Plummet

The job market picked up some more good news today, as a series of new reports by the Labor Department indicated the economy may be experiencing an uptick in job creation.

One reason for the increased optimism is that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits has drastically fallen.  According to information from USA Today, that number fell to 352,000, the lowest it has been since April 2008.  That was around the time the Great Recession began.  This news was the latest in a series of positive developments for the economy.

A spokesperson for the Labor Department cautioned that it is normal to see volatility in unemployment numbers during this time of year.  For example, the numbers jumped two weeks ago when companies laid off thousands of holiday workers.  Still, when weekly applications fall below 375,000, it is usually a sign that hiring is strong enough to push down the unemployment rate.  Unemployment currently stands at 8.5 percent.

You can read more about this news in USA Today.

Writing A Prospecting Letter

Have you ever heard of a letter of interest?  With all the other job application materials out there, it's usually lost in the fold.  But make no mistake, it can be of great use to you.  Here's a definition of the letter of interest, also known as a prospecting letter, from About.com: 

"A letter of interest, also known as a letter of inquiry or prospecting letter, is sent to companies that may be hiring, but, haven't listed a specific job opening to apply for."
The nonprofit job of your dreams may not be hiring now, but that doesn't mean they won't be in the future.  Sending a letter of interest is a great way to get ahead of the competition when the organization does decide to bring in new employees.

So what needs to be included in a letter of inquiry?  While the concept is much different from a standard cover letter, you will find that process is somewhat similar.  The main difference is that you will writing about a position that does not yet exist.

The opening of your letter should describe how you came to hear of the organization and why their mission interests you.  This should be no more than a few sentences.  You should then transition into describing the type of position you would be interested in, and how your skills and experience would be an asset for that job.  This section should be the main bulk of the letter.

The conclusion of your letter should express your desire to meet with the employee you contacted (more than likely, this would be someone in HR) to discuss future employment opportunities.  Make sure to leave all of your contact information at the end so the employer can follow up with you.  After that, you simply send off the letter and the waiting game begins.  Make sure to read my blog post on follow up e-mails to determine when you should contact the employer again if you don't hear back.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Recruiting From Outside The Organization

Cross-Posted From The Nonprofit Job Seeker

It's probably a safe assumption that your nonprofit is looking to find that great employee who will bring their organization to the next level. Too bad everyone else is, too.
Many nonprofits are turning to the Internet for their recruiting. Organizations are finding it much easier to find new employees by using social media sites and online job boards. These are all great recruiting tools, but it's important to remember they aren't your only options.
In “The Big Book of HR,” Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem remind organizations of the following recruiting methods to use in addition to the Internet:
  • Former Employees: Not every employee that left went out on bad terms. If you have a good exiting process, it will be easy to identify the reasons they left, and which ones you would like to have back.
  • Retirees: It is becoming increasingly difficult for retirees to live without some income. Consider bringing some of these individuals back to do special projects.
  • Radio/TV Ads: If you have enough room in your budget, take out an ad on the radio or TV to invite job seekers to your career Website.
  • State Employment Offices: All states have offices where you can list open positions. These agencies do a great job of linking job seekers to open positions, so don't discount the amount of help you can get from them.

The Job Search And Age

It seems as if the only people who look forward to getting older are kids.  Maybe it's true what they say: Youth is wasted on the young.

We don't like to acknowledge it, but age plays a big part in the job search.  If you are in your 50s or older, it often seems as if the deck is stacked against you.  How can you expect to get a job when there are younger candidates who can seemingly perform better?  Whatever happened to the days when you could get a job simply on your years of experience?

The sooner you move on from those glory days, the more success you will have in today's job market.  Nonprofit employers aren't interested in how long you have worked in the industry.  They are more concerned with whether you can bring the goods.  Instead of citing your 20 years of work experience, identify the benefits your employer will receive by hiring you.  Highlight your achievements in your resume and/or cover letter:
"As a Director For Development, I was able to increase our fundraising effectiveness.  We bought in X amount of dollars per quarter during my tenure."
By showing what you have accomplished, you can prove that you are just as worthy as a younger employee.  An effective sales pitch is the perfect way to put the perceptions of older employees to rest.  You may not be able to get back the days of yore, but you can at least bring back some of that old enthusiasm.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Are You Overqualified?

The need to get a job is so great these days that job seekers are willing to do anything.  They would even apply for jobs for which they are overqualified.

Employers are reluctant to hire overqualified candidates.  There is too much of a risk that such employees would become unhappy doing work that is below their skills.  This would make it more likely that they wouldn't stay at the organization long.  It's not in the best interest of an organization to hire an employee that will leave after a short time.  Overqualified candidates can also be threatening to interviewers, because there is the distinct possibility that they could take their job one day.

All this doesn't mean there aren't good reasons to apply for a job that is way below your talents.  You will rarely be told during a job interview that you are overqualified, but you can still explain your reasons for applying.  For example, there could be a situation that came up in your family that requires you to take a position that is far less stressful.  This will ensure the interviewer that their job is not in danger, and that you have a very good reason for wanting a low level job.

Applying for a job out of desperation is not a good reason, as tempting as it is.  Before settling for a job that you won't be happy with, search harder for work that fits your skill level.  It's best for you and the employer.

Adapting To Job Search Trends

The employment landscape is changing.  Whether it's for the better or worse is up for debate, but there is no doubt that employers are using new tools to streamline the hiring process.  It is up to you to adjust to some of these new job search trends if you want to move ahead in this market.  Let's go over how you can adapt to these new fads:

Resume Scanning.  Many organizations are now employing resume scanning technology to quickly parse through applications.  These devices will search resumes for specific keywords.  Those that don't contain them will be rejected.  You need to put these words into your resume, but you can't just insert them at random.  Each of your employment descriptions should have keywords strategically inserted to make the best impact.

Social Media.  You won't get ahead in this job market if you don't use social media.  You should have accounts on all the major social networking sites.  Some of the best candidates are found on these sites, so companies are increasingly searching them for potential employees.  An added benefit to this is you will gain more expertise in using these sites.  Nonprofits are increasingly looking to move their services into this new realm, so having social media knowledge will give you more marketability. 

That's all I have for now.  Have you noticed any other trends in job seeking?  Feel free to list them in the comments section below.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Featured Nonprofit Job: Director For Development

Interested in a job that combines your passion for education and fundraising?  Look no further, The Nonprofit Job Seeker has just the position for you.

Essex County College, located in Newark, NJ, is looking for a Director For Development to lead its fundraising efforts.  This individual will be responsible for generating new revenue, reaching new fundraising goals, and developing relationships with internal and external constituencies.  The Director will also oversee and direct the college's foundation, and will work with its board to come up with strategies in the development of corporate, employee, private, and other charitable giving.

Here are the requirements to be considered for this job:
  • Master's degree in business, education, nonprofit management, or related field.
  • A proven track record of prospecting, cultivating, and managing endowments, legacies and bequests gifts.
  • Demonstrated record of writing successful proposals and reports to corporate, foundation, and government funders.
  • Telecommuting is not an option.  You must be willing to relocate to New Jersey if hired.
  • Experience working effectively with senior leadership and demonstrated ability to interact comfortably with diverse, high-profile internal and external constituents.
Apply for this job in our career center.

Traits For A Nonprofit Job

You most likely want to find a nonprofit job if you are reading this blog.  But do you know the traits you should have to get one?

Let's get one thing straight: You don't have to accept a life of poverty just by working in the nonprofit sector.  Nonprofit salaries tend to be lower than those at for-profit corporations, but they aren't that much lower.  Just take a look at the pay for nonprofit executives.  You don't have to completely reinvent yourself in order to work in the sector.  There are some specific skills that can really help you out in your job search.  Some of these traits were discussed in a recent article in The Mercury News:
  • Excellent computer skills, including familiarity with social media.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills.
  • Good "people" skills (especially for positions in fundraising).
  • Flexibility is a must, especially for smaller organizations.  These types of nonprofits will likely be under bigger budget constraints, so being able to perform different roles is helpful.
  • You should have a lot of passion for the cause the organization pursues.  If you aren't interested in their mission, you likely will have a hard time focusing on the work that needs to be done.
Make sure to read the entire article from The Mercury News.

Transferable Career Skills

Time for a little straight talk.  In this economy, employers don't care about where you worked; they care about how you can help them.  That's why you need to start discovering your transferable career skills.

As the name implies, transferable career skills are abilities that can help you in any job you do.  If you used to work as a grant writer, for instance, those skills would be applicable to other positions that involve being able to write in great detail.  It's easy enough to identify job skills that will help you with your future employment.  The hard part comes when you have to explain them.

You should emphasize applicable skills in your resume, but the cover letter is where you can really make them shine.  Remember that it's not enough to simply state the abilities you have that are related to the job in question.  Include specific anecdotes from your previous experiences to help strengthen these claims.  If you were applying for a job in communications, you could cite your previous work in public relations. 

The best examples you can cite are ones that not only show your abilities to perform a task, but also prove you can learn new skills quickly.  There's no better way to stand out from the competition by showing you can think quick on your feet.  For example: "While working in public relations, I had to quickly devise a better way of keeping myself organized.   I was able to do this by separating my tasks from the most important to the least."

Once you are able to master the task of explaining your transferable career skills, you will be on the path to finding your new job.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Featured Nonprofit Job: Director of Facilities

When employers post their jobs to the Nonprofit Job Seeker, they have the option to make them "featured jobs."  This is done to give the job the highest possible exposure.  We had one of those jobs posted today from The Lathrop Community Group, Inc.

Located in Easthampton, MA, this nonprofit is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) that provides senior citizens with affordable housing.  They are currently seeking a Director of Facilities to help keep their buildings in excellent condition.  Duties would include developing, planning, organizing, and directing the functions of the maintenance department.  The position will also involve the oversight of the Housekeeping, Security, and Transportation departments, so you should be comfortable juggling many tasks at once.

As for requirements, it is recommended that you have a strong background in the healthcare field.  You should also be very good with technology and have strong leadership skills.  Here are some other requirements.
  • A Bachelor's (Master's preferred) degree in Engineering, Management, or another related field.
  • At least five years of proven experience managing at a large facility (preferably a healthcare-related environment).
  •  An equivalent combination of education and experience will be considered.
Interested?  Apply for Director of Facilities position on our job board.

Tips For Student Job Seekers

Student job seekers have been dealt a pretty bad hand by the economy.  Despite this, there is some good news.  According to the August Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, the unemployment rate for college graduates is only 4.3 percent.  That is much lower than the national rate of 9.1 percent.  This doesn't mean college students shouldn't just sit back and relax.  There is a lot of work they can do to make sure they are all set when they get their degrees.

Procrastination is a bad habit that many college students know very well.  These same students usually find out that this habit leads to inferior results.  This same rule applies to the job search.  Just because you are still a year or two away from graduation doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to get ready.  On the contrary, there are plenty of things college students can do to enhance their standing come graduation:

  • Take up an internship in addition to your courses: There is no substitution for experience.  You are going to need something to put on your resume, and listing the classes you took isn't going to be enough.  There are plenty of internships that provide college credit, so you can gain valuable work experience and speed up your graduation at the same time.
  • Network, network, network: Networking can be the most difficult task in the job hunt, so many students avoid it all together.  This is a mistake.  The sooner you start building solid connections in the career you are interested in, the better chance you have of getting into that field.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities: Look for on-campus groups or clubs that are relevant to the kind of job you want.  These activities can be just as useful as internships for gaining experience.
  • Use your college's career center: Campus career centers are an extremely valuable resource: Make sure you take advantage of it.  I have written extensively on this subject, so make sure to read my post to find out why these programs are so useful.
  • Think seriously about your career goals: What do you really want to do for a career?  This is a hard enough question to answer and, quite frankly, it's hard to know what your true passion is immediately.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't start thinking now.  Don't be afraid to try out things you aren't initially excited about.  You never know when it will all start to click.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 01/12/2012

Here are today's top nonprofit jobs, direct from our career center:
  • Director, Corporate Relations and Cause Marketing: The Director of Corporate Relations and Cause Marketing will help lead a major growth phase in securing and retaining significant corporate philanthropic, cause marketing and employee engagement support. The key objective of the role is to dramatically increase the support that comes from major companies from the current level of $6.5 million to $8.5 million within 18 months and to $13 million within four years. Reporting to the VP for Development, s/he will cultivate, manage and grow relationships with priority corporate partners with revenue of at least $100,000 and/or with potential to grow to at least $1 million per year.
  • Executive Director (FEATURED JOB): Hunterdon Land Trust seeks a visionary and charismatic leader to fill the position of executive director. He or she supervises a staff of five professionals who focus on the following programs: land preservation and stewardship, resource development and outreach, upkeep and restoration of the organization’s historic farmstead headquarters (including management of a popular farmers’ market), governance and administration, and finance. This full-time, EOE position is an extraordinary opportunity to build on the success of a growing and vibrant community organization. Benefits include a competitive salary, health insurance, and a 403(b) retirement plan.
  • Director of Advocacy Resources: The Director of Advocacy Resources for Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity will help guide the Center's rapidly-expanding work on food marketing to young people. The Director will coordinate and lead the Rudd Center’s work to educate and inform community organizations about issues related to food marketing, and develop resources to help them identify and implement appropriate strategies for intervention.

What's Your Job Application E-Mail's Subject Line?

The most frustrating thing for a job seeker is getting no response to a job application e-mail.  Most would prefer a rejection than being ignored.  At least then they know it was read.

With situations like this, it seems like there's almost nothing you can do to get your e-mails read.  Thankfully, that's far from the truth.  Even messages that have a lot of time and thought put into them can miss the main point that every great e-mail should get across: Why should the reader care?  If your e-mail takes a while to get to the point or, even worse, is written sloppily, you're not going to have much success with your job search.

The first thing a recipient sees when they get an e-mail is its subject line.  Unless the person already knows the sender, this is often the deciding factor on whether the message is read or not.  If an employer gets an e-mail with a subject line like "Responding to job posting," that isn't going to inspire much enthusiasm.  Something like "[Insert Name Here]--Hardworking Fundraising Professional," on the other hand, is much more memorable and will make the reader want to learn more.  Try using a subject such as that the next time you send a job application e-mail.

Have any other ideas for good subject lines?  Share them in the comments section.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big City Nonprofit Jobs

If you polled job seekers on what kind of environment they'd want to work in for a nonprofit job, I'd be willing to bet a lot of them would choose a big city.  Although the crowds can be overwhelming to some, cities provide a fun and active work environment.  It also doesn't hurt that there are a wealth of food choices if you want to go out for lunch.

We have recently posted a number of nonprofit jobs located in major cities.  Here are three of them:
  • Medical Education Project Manager: Located in our nation's capital, this job from the American Pharmacists Association is a great opportunity for those who are experienced in healthcare education.  This position is in charge of leading education projects online, so e-learning experience is a must.  Any kind of accreditation you have would be a bonus.
  • Senior Program Associate: Dreaming of working in beautiful San Francisco?  Then you'll want to consider this job from Foundation for California Community Colleges.  This position will be in charge of the organization's Career Ladders Project (CLP) and will work with the CLP team, colleges and their workforce partners in developing and implementing high quality, career pathway programs.  A Bachelor's Degree is required, along with experience teaching and/or facilitating at a community college or similar institution.
  • Institutional Giving Program: The Center for Family Representation, located in New York City, is seeking a highly motivated individual to work in their giving program.  The chosen applicant will begin work on February 15, and will be in charge of, among other things, creating a portfolio of corporate, foundation, and government prospects, throughout the qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship cycles.  The ideal candidate will possess a combination of skills, experience and passion, along with the ability to think strategically.

The Top 10 Job Interview Questions To Ask

What's a nonprofit job interview really about?  You might think it's just about your qualifications, but it's actually more about how you can help the employer succeed now and in the future.

It's all too easy for a job seeker to completely forget about the point of view of the employer in an interview.  The majority of the job search is completely focused on your needs, so what the interviewer is thinking isn't the first thing that pops into your head.  The last thing you want is another thing to worry about, but you're going to have to start thinking about this.  After all, one of the major points of an interview is to impress your prospective employer.

With that in mind, here are 10 good job interview questions to ask to the interviewer:
  1. What is the leadership style in the organization?  Would you say it's more relaxed or strict?
  2. What types of individuals are most successful here?  (This is a good opportunity to point out that you fit those qualifications, assuming the interviewer lists traits that match yours).
  3. What's your biggest worry these days?  What aspect of business keeps you up at night?
  4. What are the major accomplishments you expect to see from someone taking on this job?  Are there any long term goals I should know?
  5. What would a successful year for the organization look like?  How will this position help reach that goal?
  6. How did you get your start in the nonprofit sector?  What do you enjoy about it the most?
  7. I've mainly worked for (insert type of company here) during my career?  Do you think this experience will be to my advantage should I be chosen for this job?
  8. What was it about this job that makes it so important?  Why are you prioritizing it over other positions?
  9. What has been the biggest challenge for the organization over the past year?  Did the recession have a big impact on your mission?
  10. What is the timeline for the hiring process?  When should I get back in touch with you regarding the position?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 01/10/2012

  • Rehab Specialist/Project Management: Philadelphia Neighborhood Housing Services is seeking an individual to provide technical assistance to homeowners for home improvement projects and property renovation projects.  Will also oversee contractors work for quality control; perform related administrative work.  Must have excellent interpersonal communication skills and experience using computer programs.  Should also have two years experience in home inspeection.
  • Call Center Manager (FEATURED JOB): Are you good at dealing with people on the phone?  Then this is the job for you.  Candidates must get as excited about motivating employees to reach their potential as they do Excel spreadsheets and bar graphs.  Having a lot of passion for doing this kind of work is a must for anybody who wishes to apply.  The chosen applicant will be responsible for all aspects of the Texas Call Center and for overseeing shift supervisors, training and all call center operations. He or she will also be responsible for all aspects of NRC’s Donor Relations department.  Must have a Bachelor's degree from a four-year college or university, or 6 years related experience and/or training, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • HHA Supervisors: A challenging opportunity for an experienced individual to supervise HHAs delivering service to patients in the home care setting and coordinate all related administrative responsibilities.  Must have 2 or more years of experience supervising HHA, ensuring compliance with corporate policies/state regs & scheduling HHA assignments. Must have excellent customer service, organizational, and problem solving skills. Computer skills and a college degree preferred.

Handling Employee Online Privacy

Cross-Posted From The NonProfit Times Blog

One of the big responsibilities of human resources is to make sure employees are treated fairly and their privacy is protected.  Employees expect what happens in the office to remain there, but today's technology allows people to easily spread the word out to countless people. 

It's up to HR to make sure this doesn't happen so the organization can avoid any legal problems.  But how to do this when the technology makes it so easy?  Jeffrey S. Tenenbaum and Lisa M. Hix of D.C.-based Venable LLP offered some tips on how nonprofits can better handle these sticky situations:
  • Employees are going to use their computers for personal use whether you like it or not.  It's an unavoidable fact of life, so make sure staff is educated on what they can and can't post.
  • You need a clear and reasonable policy that explains expectations on usage. It should reduce any expectation of privacy on the organization’s computers or email, phone/voicemail or Blackberry systems and the data on them.
  • Make sure the policy you create addresses permissible use while guarding against potential legal pitfalls.
  • Always be prepared.  Organize a team (consisting of legal, executive, marketing, and HR staff) before a crisis happens, not after.
  • Want to check out a potential employee's online interactions?  Get written consent from them first.
  • Screen all your candidates the same way.  Don't treat one different than the other.
  • Remember that you can only decide not to hire someone based on online interactions if it's a non-discriminatory reason.  For example, you can't just not hire a person because you found out they have different political beliefs than you.

Online Job Opportunities: Employer Websites

When it comes to online job opportunities, your best bet is to use a job board.  But sometimes the nonprofit job you want can't be found there.  That's when you have to resort to other methods.  One area you should consider investigating is employer websites.

Just because an organization is hiring doesn't mean they have advertised on a job website.  Some companies prefer to do their recruiting on their site.  If there is a nonprofit that you have always wanted to work for, but you don't see any of their jobs posted, you should immediately go to their website's "employment" section.  This is the area where employers will list any areas they are currently looking to fill.  Think of it as their own personal job board.

Nothing listed on the employer website?  Not to worry, you're not out of options yet.  A nonprofit's employment website will usually list the contact information for the Human Resources department.  If it's not listed there, check their "contact us" page.  Once you find it, give them a call to inquire on potential openings.  Tell them the position you are looking for and ask if you can send your resume for future consideration.  You never know, that one call could open their eyes to recruiting opportunities they are missing.  And that could open the door for you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 01/09/2012

We have been getting a lot of new nonprofit jobs onto our career center.  Here are a few of the ones you can expect to find:
  • Executive Director: The Executive Director will be based out of our San Diego office and will also oversee and provide senior-level staff oversight of San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties including the management of staff and volunteers and the development and execution community-based fundraising and service programs.
  • Grant Writer: The Grant Writer is responsible for preparing proposals and other written materials as well as researching and identifying funding opportunities to support grantsmanship and fundraising efforts of Queens Library. Work with the Manager of Corporate and Foundation Grants to put in place and implement a strategic calendared cultivation plan including communication with funders/prospects.
  • Colorado State Director: The Colorado State Director for Share Our Strength will lead strategy and operations for all Share Our Strength activities in Colorado, including directing Share Our Strength’s role in the Colorado No Kid Hungry Campaign and Cooking Matters Colorado. This position ensures that the full range of assets and tactics available within Share Our Strength and the state of Colorado are applied to the programmatic, partnership, policy, and fundraising priorities of the No Kid Hungry campaign.

Are Your Networking Contacts In Danger?

"I think we should start seeing other people."

You've probably heard this line before if you've ever gone through a break up.  And if you have, you probably know what it really means: "I think I should start seeing other people, but you shouldn't."  Relationships are a tricky business.

Don't worry, this blog isn't turning into a dating advice column.  Relationship advice is actually very important for job seekers when dealing with networking contacts.  You have to pick and choose the individuals you connect with carefully, or else you could be in for a wild ride.  In his book "It's Not Just Who You Know," Tommy Spaulding, former CEO of Up With The People, talks about the potential pitfalls that can arise from relationships.  He offers some relationship warning signs that can easily be applied to your career networking:
  • Know when to say no.  If you get the feeling that the person you want to connect with has a bad personality or something along those lines, walk away.  It's not worth the trouble even if you think they could really help you.
  • Beware of relationship cancer.  This can be caused by jealousy or insecurity, and can pop up in any kind of relationship.  It is up to you to know situations where this is more likely.  For example, it might not be a good idea to make a networking contact with someone who is pursuing the same job as you.
  • Learn from critics, but don't become their slave.  Constructive criticism is important.  If your contact has some feedback for you, don't get defensive.  At the same time, you should also recognize if the feedback is coming from someone acting on their own agendas. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

High End Nonprofit Jobs

Looking for some high end nonprofit jobs to apply for now that hiring is starting to pick up?  Here are a couple of listings that were just posted to our career center:
  • AVP, Finance and Deputy CFO: The AVP, Finance & Deputy CFO leads the accounting and finance function for Save the Children. S/he sets the vision and contributes substantially to the goal of high quality financial management globally. S/he monitors the progress and results of departmental plans, and advocates and engages in cross-functional actions and initiatives that are needed to improve our efficiency and effectiveness in achieving our mission.
  • Chief Programs Officer: The Chief Programs Officer is responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating high quality programs and services. He or she will strategically review all programs on an on-going basis in order to enhance, update and expand core programs. The Chief Programs Officer will also develop new programs and will take on the responsibly of existing programs or geographical areas as needed to further the mission of AbilityFirst. He or she will directly supervise three senior Program Directors who manage more than 100 staff in more than 10 geographical locations.

A Look At The December Jobs Report

It's the first Friday of the month.  Do you know what that means?  It means that the US Labor Department has released the employment numbers for the previous month.  What does the December jobs report have to offer?

Thankfully, it's mostly good news.  CNN Money reports that the economy added 200,000 jobs in December, closing the year with 1.6 million jobs gained.  That's compared to only 940,000 jobs added in 2010.  Unemployment fell to 8.5 percent, the lowest it has been since February 2009.  It was also the fourth consecutive month that unemployment fell, coming off the 8.6 percent level in the November jobs report.  Overall, the private sector added 212,000 jobs while the public sector slashed another 12,000.

So what does all this mean for job seekers?  The increased hiring bodes well for them, though it will also likely mean even stiffer competition as inactive job hunters get back into the search.  Yet despite this good news, the economy still has a long way to go.  According to CNN Money, the economy needs to add roughly 6 million more jobs to get back to pre-recession levels.  And despite the decreasing unemployment, there are still 13 million Americans out of work, many of whom have been unemployed for six months or more.  But there's no doubt that the job market is headed in the right direction.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

White House Announces Summer Jobs+ Program

The White House has just announced Summer Jobs+, a program that will work with nonprofits and businesses to create work for low income families this year.  Here is an excerpt from an article about it that The NonProfit Times just posted:

The White House announced Summer Jobs+, a call to action for businesses, nonprofits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth during the summer of 2012.

American youth are struggling to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (Current Population Survey), 48.8 percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed in July, the month when youth employment usually peaks. This is significantly lower than the 59.2 percent of youth who were employed five years ago and 63.3 percent of youth who were employed 10 years ago.

Minority youth had an especially difficult time finding employment this past summer. Only 34.6 percent of African American youth and 42.9 percent of Hispanic youth had a job this past July.

Summer Jobs+ was initially proposed as a $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. When Congress did not approve the legislation, the White House started working with private-sector employers to commit to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth during the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships.

Read more about Summer Jobs+ on The NonProfit Times.

Applicant Tracking Software And Your Job Application

Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) has revolutionized the way employers scan through resumes and cover letters.  No longer do they have parse through every single application.  ATSes do all the work for them.  This makes life a lot easier for employers, but it can leave job seekers in the dark if they aren't prepared.

As you are probably aware, the two main parts of your job application are your resume and cover letter.  If you want these documents to be get through the ATS, you are going to have to tailor them.  This means making use of job key words in your resume.  These key words can be found by going through the job description.  You then need to sprinkle these in through your resume (Note: Make sure it's not at random.  It has to make sense).  Examples of key words depend on the type of job for which you are applying.  For instance, a resume for a fundraising job should include words like "development" or "developing relationships."

Cover letters are handled a little differently by ATSes.  Very few of these programs are able to scan cover letters as an attachment.  They treat the body of your e-mail as the cover letter instead, so it's imperative that you write it there.  When creating your cover letter, think of it as an additional medium to list more key words and skills that you weren't able to fit into your resume.  The more key words an ATS finds, the higher it will rank your application. And that means it has a much better chance of getting into the hands of an actual human.  Imagine that!

One thing to keep in mind: Not all ATSes keyword-search cover letters, so don't spend too much time tailoring it towards them.  The majority of your energy should be spent making your resume as ATS-friendly as possible.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nonprofit Jobs For The New Year

Now that the New Year has arrived, it's time to resume the job search.  Here are three recently posted positions to get you back into the routine:
  • Events Manager: The Foundation Fighting Blindness, based in Raleigh, MD, is seeking a dynamic, experienced, and organized individual to help run their various events.  This is a position that requires a lot of creativity and leadership skills.  The chosen candidate should be comfortable not only running events, but developing new ones.  Must have a Bachelor's Degree and five plus years of paid experience in nonprofit event planning.
  • President/Chief Executive Officer: Are you an individual with great ambition?  Seattle-based Argos International might have just the job for you.  They are currently seeking a new President/CEO for their organization.  The accepted applicant will report to the Chairman of the Board of Directors, and will be responsible for setting the strategic objectives of the nonprofit.  As a Christian organization, the CEO will serve as the chief evangelist of Argos.  Must have a Bachelors degree and 10 years of experience serving in a senior-level leadership role. The ideal individual will have directed an organization of no less than 25 people and managed at least a $5 million budget.
  • Director of Development: Planet Aid, based in Elkridge, MD, is seeking a new director of development.  This position demands an individual who is a result oriented team-player with a wealth of experience in getting funding from foundations and corporations.  The development director will work under the supervision of President and the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Program Development and will be responsible for a wide array of fundraising activities, including: Developing a short and long-range strategy for maximizing Planet Aid’s access to private source funding, meeting progressive annual funding target, and  planning and authoring concept papers and proposals from conception to final product.  Must have at least 10 years of professional development and fundraising experience.

Your Job Search New Year's Resolution

You've probably seen a lot of people at the gym these days.  This is likely because they are fulfilling one of their many New Years Resolutions.  You've probably made a number of them yourself.  But have you made any for your job search?

Your main goal should obviously be to get a great nonprofit job, but you should create some goals to better refine your search.  Here are some tips to get 2012 off to a fast start:
  • Add to your career skills.  There are plenty of continuing education or graduate courses out there that can enhance your marketability.  It can do nothing but give you a better shot in the job market.
  • Stick to your schedule.  The first thing any good job seeker will do is make a schedule to structure their day.  Of course, it's easy to fall out of that routine as time goes by.  Make it a priority to stick to your job search routine in 2012.
  • Define your goals.  Take a step back and reevaluate what you want out of your career.  What first attracted you to the nonprofit sector?  Why do you want to do the particular job for which you are looking?  Answering these questions will help re-energize you if you have lost focus.  It can also help to better sell yourself to employers.
  • Connect with other job seekers.  It's no secret that there are a ton of job hunters out there.  You probably know a few.  Set up a time to meet up with them and see how they are handling their search.  How much success are they having?  If you find they are getting more interviews than you, ask them what strategies they are using.
  • Prepare.  It's impossible to predict when you will be called in for a job interview so make sure you are always prepared.  That means you should be ready to answer almost any question the interviewer throws at you.  They want real-life examples of your success?  No problem.  A list of your best qualities?  You already have them ready.  Never be caught off guard.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Job Interview Tips: Confidence Is Key

Happy New Year everyone!  Now that the holidays are over, the job search should start to heat up again.  With any luck you will start to hear back from nonprofit jobs for which you applied.  If that's the case, you are going to need some new job interview tips to seal the deal.  Today's tip can be summed up with one word: Confidence.

You can have the most impressive resume in the world, but you won't be successful if you don't appear to  have confidence in yourself.  An organization is not going to want to hire someone that appears unsure.  It's easy to feel discouraged in this job market, but don't let that affect your interviews. 

Showing confidence starts with good communication skills.  Here are four tips that will help you ace that job interview:
  • Slow It Down: Avoid speaking quickly during your interview.  Not only will this make it difficult to understand you, it will also make the interviewer think you are anxious.  You probably will be a little nervous, but it's not a good idea to let that be so apparent.  A good way to slow yourself down is to make use of pauses.  Using strategic pausing will give the interviewer time to process what you are saying, and it will show that you are in control of your words.
  • Speak With Confidence: What does it mean to speak with confidence?  It can mean a number of things, but one of its important aspects is a strong tone of voice.  People who speak with a strong voice are often perceived to have great self-confidence, whether that's right or wrong.  You don't want to overdo it, but practice powering up your voice.  It can do wonders for you.
  • Avoid "Fillers": Are a lot of your sentences ending with "ums" or "uhs"?  Words like these are known as "fillers," and using too many of them creates the impression that you are unsure of yourself.  It's very hard to completely get rid of them, but make sure you at least keep fillers to a minimum.  If you can complete a conversation with only a few fillers, you will have done a great job.
  • Posture: Body language play a big role in your communication of confidence.  If you show up to your interview with your arms crossed, for example, you will be sending exactly the wrong message.  Make sure you are making good eye contact with your interviewer, give a firm handshake, and have a smile on your face.  Remember, nearly 50 percent of our communications are non-verbal.