Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Pros And Cons Of Relocating

Job seekers tend to look for work in or around their area.  Who can blame them?  Nobody wants to have a long commute to work, especially with the rising price of gas.  The situation becomes a little more complicated if the job of your dreams is a little bit further than you would like.

Relocation is always a tricky situation.  Nobody wants to leave the comfort of their hometown or travel long distances for work, but sometimes there are good reasons to do it.  Let's look at some of the pros and cons associated with relocating to another city for work.


  • Working in a new environment can be a refreshing change of pace from your normal routine.  There's something to be said for starting anew.
  • Staying in your area can limit your opportunities.  Opening yourself up to travel a little more can bring you new experiences you normally would not have access to.
  • Salaries can be a little higher in the city.  If you are working in the suburbs, it may make sense to expand your search into more urban areas.
  • Leaving behind your friends and family can be intimidating.  You're going to be starting from a clean slate, which means you will also need to make new networking contacts.
  • Money is definitely an issue.  Even if it's not so far that you would have to get an apartment, the commuting costs can be a real drain on your wallet.
  • You may not like your new location.  If you are planning to move, make sure you are truly in love with the location.  Don't just judge it based on one visit.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

7 Job Research Questions

The job of a recruiter is to make their organization sound as attractive as possible to potential candidates.  They're probably not going to tell you any negative things, so it's up to you, the job seeker, to do your due diligence when researching a potential job.

This is not to say you have to be ultra cynical when reading a job description.  It's more likely than not that you're going to get an accurate picture of what the job entails.  The trouble is, that's only half the information you need.  You're going to need to do some serious job research to make sure this is the nonprofit you want to join.

There is a lot of information you need to gather when conducting your job research.  To help speed the process along, here are 10 questions you should ask yourself:

  • Who is the owner, and how frequently does that position experience change?  You probably won't want to join an organization that experiences a lot of ownership turnover.
  • Does the nonprofit have a good reputation in the industry, or is it considered a bad apple?
  • How are the finances?  You should be able to easily find the organization's income for the latest fiscal year.
  • Who are its key competitors?
  • What do current and past employees think of the organization?
  • Who are the major clients?  Are they financially stable?
  • Is there room to advance past the current position?  You don't want to be stuck in the same job for years, so find out if there are opportunities for growth.
These questions will not only help you get a better idea of the nonprofit, but they will also help you with future job interviews.  Employers are always going to be impressed if you know a lot about their place of employment.

Featured Nonprofit Job: Interactive Marketing Associate

Marketing jobs have certainly changed a lot in the last decade or so.  With the increasing popularity of the Internet and computers, marketers have turned to that medium for a lot of their work.  It's now virtually unheard of for a nonprofit or other business not to have some sort of e-mail marketing campaign.  If this is the kind of work you are interested in, the Nonprofit Job Seeker has an exciting opportunity available.

The New York City office of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international humanitarian organization, is looking to hire an Interactive Marketing Associate.  Working under the supervision of the Integrated Marketing Manager, this position will help implement the organization's e-marketing and telemarketing campaigns.  The accepted applicant will also work closely with the web and programming team to maximize income and create and improve performance of web donation forms.

Other Responsibilities:

  • Works with fundraising systems team to ensure that gift processing standards and financial controls are followed as they relate to online giving.
  • Assists in reporting needed by the Integrated Marketing Manager on all aspects of data for telemarketing campaigns.
  • Maintains understanding of direct marketing campaign tools, and campaign plans, and backs up Integrated Marketing Manager in the development of direct marketing campaigns across all channels.
  • Responsible for monitoring reports on marketing expenditures on a per project basis, as needed, and participates in budgeting process.
  • 4-year Bachelor's degree, or equivalent combination of education and experience, in relevant field.
  • At least 3 years of relevant work experience, preferably at a nonprofit.
  • Solid understanding of web-based donations applications and web development best practices such as accessibility, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), readability, etc.
  • Experience with online direct marketing implementation.
  • Ability to work with little supervision.
You can read more about this job, including salary information, on our website.  If you think you have what it takes to take on this position, apply immediately!

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Featured Job: Political Representative

    Politics is a big part of today's society, and fundraising is a big part of politics.  If you ever wanted to integrate these two things into your career, the Nonprofit Job Seeker has just the job for you.

    Orlando-based Florida Realtors is looking for a highly motivated individual to be its next Political Representative.  The accepted applicant will be responsible for one-third to one-half of the organization's districts, and will plan, organize, and coordinate fundraising and political activities on behalf of the Realtors Political Action Committee and the Issues Mobilization Committee.  The job will also involve assisting in state and federal lobbying occasionally.  Other responsibilities include:

    • Planning, organizing, and conducting workshops/instructional seminars at the district level and at state meetings to train and motivate local political involvement.
    • Designing, developing, and producing political education materials, grassroots efforts, and fundraising plans for use by local boards/associations.
    • Coordinating the Key Contact Program, which pairs Realtors with local jurisdictions.
    • Communicating regularly with local boards/associations to monitor progress and provide follow up assistance.
    • Assisting and guiding local boards/associations in the implementation of fundraising techniques and programs.
    Think you have what it takes for this job?  Make sure you meet the following requirements before you apply:
    • Must have proven abilities in coordinating a large and continuing fundraising and education program.
    • Must possess strong communication and organizational skills.
    • A four-year degree in a related field is required.
    • Should have the capability to perform work under constant stress.
    • A working knowledge of the political process is a must.
    • The accepted candidate should be prepared to travel regularly to fulfill duties of the position.
    Once you are sure you meet all of these requirements, apply for this job on our website!  Make sure to read application instructions carefully.

    Tips For Changing Careers From The Buddha

    Most people change careers at least once in their lives.  Heck, even the Buddha did it.

    As Franz Metcalf and BJ Gallagher explain in their book "Being Buddha at Work," the man who would become the Buddha, Siddhartha, made a stunning career change early in his life.  He walked away from what was the equivalent of a CEO job to live the life of a beggar.  Why?  Because he discovered he wasn't happy with the sheltered life he was living, and wanted to find a solution to human suffering.  And even when he was a success in his second career, he quit that because he still couldn't find the answer to suffering.

    We're not suggesting you quit your job to become a beggar, but if you're not happy at your current job you should look into a career change.  One of the many reasons people move to a nonprofit job is the opportunity to do work for a cause that really matters to them.  So do you think it's time to switch careers?  Metcalf and Gallagher have some tips inspired by the Buddha to help you make your decision:
    • Drop a career that makes you miserable.  Move on and try something new, and keep trying new things until you find what works for you.
    • Listen to the advice of people who care about you and to experts, but don't obey them blindly.  Test what they say against your own intuitions before deciding which path is right for you.
    • Take time to know yourself.  Discover what makes you truly happy, not superficially but deeply.  This can take a while to discover so resist the urge to skimp.
    • Once you know what you want, take action.  Do everything you can to make your new career a reality and, above all else, don't linger in situations that make you unhappy just because you don't think it can get any better.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    A Day At The Career Fair

    Although a lot of the job search is done online these days, there is still a place for the real world.  Face-to-face networking still remains a great technique and there's no better place for it than a career fair.

    Career fairs are happening all the time, so check often to see if there are any happening in your area.  You will have to choose the fair that has the most relevance to your search.  This can be done by checking which companies will be attending.  Most fairs will have this list on their websites, so you will be able to see if there are any nonprofits attending.  Once you find that out, you need to start preparing.

    Make sure that you bring enough copies of your resume and cover letter.  You may only be planning on going to a few booths, but it's better to be over-prepared.  You should also prepare a number of elevator speeches tailored towards each organization you visit.  Remember to practice them enough so that you don't have to read off of a script, and don't be afraid to improvise.

    When it comes time to head to the fair, try and get there at least an hour before it begins.  The crowds will get larger as the day gets later, and you will find it hard to get everything done when you are competing with hundreds of other people.  This also has another benefit: It will show potential employers that you are serious about creating good contacts.  Make sure that, along with your resume and cover letter, you have a number of business cards that you can give to potential networking contacts.

    The most important thing you can do to prepare for a career fair is to set goals.  Aside from speaking to all of the organizations you are interested in, try and get X number of business cards by the end of the day, or some other tangible goal that will motivate you.  It can never be overstated how much reaching a goal can boost your confidence and make you feel accomplished.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Sample Phone Screen Questions

    Once you post your nonprofit job online, it won't be long until you are flooded with potential candidates.  The next step you have to take is to narrow your candidate pool.  One of the most effective ways to do this is to conduct a phone screen.

    The phone screen provides a great way for employers to get specific answers from candidates.  This is because you will be able to get specific information from the applicant on why they applied for the job, and other related information.  According to James Weinberg and Cassie Scarno of Commongood Careers, the questions you ask should hit on the whole range of required skills and experience so that you can determine whether this is an individual you would want to bring in for an interview.

    Weinberg and Scarno came up with some sample questions you could ask.  These were developed for a director of development position, but you can easily re-work them to fit your job.
    • "Please tell me about why you are interested in the director of development position with our organization?"
    • "In what type of organizational culture do you thrive?  In what kind do you feel less successful?"
    • "What skills and experience do you have that make you particularly qualified for the position?"
    • "What is your salary history?  What are your current salary requirements?"
    • "How soon would you be able to start a new position?"
    • "Please describe your experience working in partnership with a board of directors.  What strategies did you implement to ensure an effective and productive partnership?"
    • "Tell me about the successes you have had raising money for nonprofit organizations.  Specifically, how much money did you raise on an annual basis?"
    • "Can you give me some examples of partnerships you created that led to increased revenue or opportunity for your organization?  How did you create them?  What were the results?"

    Love And Marriage: Choosing The Right Career

    Although we are a week removed from Valentine's Day, February is still a month filled with love.  Why not spend the rest of the month looking for the right match for your career?

    The job search really does have a lot in common with dating.  Both require a lot of hard work and commitment and are increasingly being done via the Internet.  Both can also go south quickly if you make a decision based solely on superficial desires.  In the case of your career, choosing a job because it has the best salary and benefits is likely to leave you unhappy.

    Here are four things to consider before making a long-term commitment with a career:

    • Make sure it's something you love doing.  Without passion, you'll find yourself burning out very quickly.  This is not to say you need to hold out for your dream job.  Just make sure that there are elements within the position that get you excited.
    • Consider the commute.  Long-distance relationships can sometimes work out, but they often cause a lot of stress.  If you think the drive is going to be too much of a problem, look elsewhere.
    • Although money isn't everything, make sure you aren't being underpaid for your services either.  In other words: Don't settle!
    • Ensure that there is room for you to grow.  Being stuck in a position for years is not a great way to ensure happiness with your job, so ask during your job interview whether there are ample opportunities to advance within the organization.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Recruiting Volunteers For Events

    Not all volunteers are created equal.  Depending on the need of the nonprofit, the recruiting process can vary.  We could spend all day talking about the various types of work you could recruit a volunteer for but for today, let's focus on special events.

    If you need volunteers for an event, the goal of the recruitment process is to gather a large number of people who require little training and are willing to work for a short period of time.  In his book "Making a Difference," Howard Berman wrote that an organization's recruitment effort must concentrate on disseminating information about the need for volunteers.  This has to be done quickly and to as many sources as possible.  So now that you know this all you have to do is start sending out your wanted ads, right?  Not quite.

    To make sure you attract the right candidates, you have to make sure your ads are targeted to that particular demographic.  That means you need to make sure that if, say, you are sending out ads to local magazines, that they are publications that your demographic is likely to read.  For example, college students on vacation are some of the most likely candidates for short-term volunteer work.

    With this in mind, Berman suggests three steps to begin your volunteer recruitment process:
    • Contact the local media.  This can be done through press releases and personal phone calls.
    • Make announcements at local community service centers, as well as reaching out to scout groups, college community/civic engagement centers, and other similar organizations.
    • You can look inside your nonprofit for help as well.  Ask your staff and board members (both past and present) to volunteer along with others in the enterprise's "friends" database.

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    The Question To Always Ask A Job Reference

    It can be very difficult to get any of the information you really want when you question an applicant's job reference.  Modern employment laws make it hard, if not impossible, to ask any specific questions about a former employee.  If you are going to ask one question, however, Jack DeBoer has the perfect one.

    DeBoer wrote in his book "Risk Only Money" that many employers these days don't really want to shoot straight with you when it comes to discussing employees who were not that great.  They don't want to face the possibility of a lawsuit if their answers costs that person the job, even if it's hard to prove it.  If you are going to get the information you need, DeBoer wrote that you should ask the following question: "If you needed the skills of this employee, would you rehire this person?"  This is a great question to ask because it's a simple yes or no answer that requires no further explanation, and it allows the employer to tell the truth without violating any laws.

    DeBoer also suggested that hiring managers should learn to read between the lines when listening to an answer.  For example, if you ask how trustworthy the former employee is, listen for any hesitation in the answer.  Anything less than "Oh, absolutely!" can be a signal that you aren't getting the whole truth.  You can also try asking about the employee's performance rather than their character, as DeBoer wrote that there are fewer laws restricting those kinds of questions.

    Employee screening can sure be difficult, but the tips above should make it a little easier to get the information you really need.

    Getting Comfortable With Salary Requirements

    Some things seem to get harder when you get older.  As a kid, you probably had no reservations asking for a bigger allowance.  After all, how else were you going to afford that new bike?  So why is it so uncomfortable for some job seekers when an employer asks for their salary requirements?

    Some job descriptions will require the applicant to list their salary expectations in their cover letter.  A lot of job seekers simply don't feel comfortable saying what they want to make.  They are afraid they could disqualify themselves before they even have a chance for an interview.  You can make this a little easier by researching the typical nonprofit salaries but if you still feel uncomfortable, there are ways to fulfill the employer's request while still avoiding an overly specific answer:
    • Provide a list of the salaries you received in your career so far.  For example, you could say "I've earned X amount of dollars in my career so far, and I would be happy to discuss a potential salary with you in the future."
    • Use ballpark figures to describe your desired salary (i.e. "I expect to get a salary in the low six-figures").
    • If you have a feeling that the job is going to pay less than your previous position, you can mention your previous salary but say you are willing to be flexible.
    Remember not to sell yourself short.  Your research should help you figure out what the salary is for the nonprofit job in question, so you shouldn't be rejected for a job interview because of salary unless what you requested is way above the norm.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Proofreading Your Cover Letter

    All job seekers know they have to proofread their resume and cover letter before sending them out to employers.  But do you know the correct way to do this?

    There are actually multiple different ways to check a document for mistakes, and some are more effective than others.  If all you are doing is reading over your cover letter once and calling it a day, you are probably leaving some costly mistakes behind.  Here are some effective ways to make sure you don't spoil a perfectly good application with sloppy errors:
    • Print your cover letter out instead of reading it on the screen.  It's easier to catch errors reading on a plain piece of paper than a bright screen.  It also helps to print your cover letter out in a larger than normal font.
    • It can be awkward sometimes, but try reading it out loud.  The ear often catches mistakes that the eyes don't see.
    • Speaking of which, have someone read your cover letter over for you.  An outside observer will not only catch typos you may have missed, they will also be a better judge of awkward or confusing sentences.  Things that make sense in our own heads can be confusing to other people.
    • Make sure your punctuation is consistent if you have any bulleted items.  For example, if you use a period in one bullet, make sure you use them in the others.
    Do you have any tips of your own to help the proofreading process?  Feel free to share them with us.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Professional Development For Volunteers

    Cross-Posted from The NonProfit Times Blog

    While nonprofit volunteers will often move on to different opportunities once their work is done, that doesn't mean you don't have an obligation to help them out with their future careers.

    Helping your volunteers with their professional development is a good way to show how much you appreciate their work.  And, as John L. Lipp writes in "The Idiot's Guide to Recruiting and Managing Volunteers," it's also a great strategy to keep them motivated.  While this training will help volunteers develop career skills for later in their life, it can also lead to promotions within the organization.

    In order to keep things fresh, Lipp recommends bringing in special guest speakers to speak on specific topics.  You may also want to schedule webinars that your volunteers can attend.  Either of these choices provide a level of interaction that will enable your volunteer workers to better enhance their skills.

    So how often should you offer these professional development courses?  While Lipp acknowledges there is ongoing debate on how much is necessary, most agree that some follow-up training should be offered at least once a year.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    This Valentine's Day, Make Job Seekers Love You

    As every one who is currently conscious is aware, today is Valentine's Day.  That means you have (or at least you better have) bought gifts for your significant other, and are preparing for a romantic evening together.  Nonprofit employers also have designs to woo someone.  In this case, it's job seekers.

    There are many ways to make a job seeker fall in love with your organization, but one of the best ways is to write a strong job description.  At its core, a job description is a marketing tool: It must captivate potential job applicants by communicating the opportunities the position provides.  It must also outline all the requirements necessary so there is no confusion should there be an interview.

    In "Nonprofit Management 101," James Weinberg and Cassie Scarano of Commongood Careers provide eight components that make up a strong nonprofit job description:
    • Title: Your job title should be short, concise, and widely recognizable.
    • Organizational Overview: Introduce your nonprofit through a succinct and enthusiastic paragraph that outlines your mission and programs, success to date, growth plans and future opportunities, and culture.  Remember to include your organization's website.
    • Position Overview: Use one well-written paragraph to describe the overall function of the position and highlight the opportunities for impact and leadership.
    • Responsibilities: Us five to seven bullet points to provide detail about the responsibilities of the position.  Avoid the use of organizational jargon.
    • Qualifications: This section should outline the experience and competencies required for success in the position and your organization, without being overly prescriptive.
    • Compensation Range: Despite popular believe, disclosing specific compensation information is not required and in fact, is not recommended, as it limits the candidates you will see.  If you do plan to include compensation information, put it at the end of the posting.
    • Application Instructions: Be very specific about how you want candidates to apply for the position.  Keep the application process simple, as you do not want strong candidates to remove themselves from the process.
    • Equal Opportunity Statement: It is good practice to have an equal opportunity employer policy and to include that in your job description.  In most cases, a simple "XYZ is an equal opportunity employer" should suffice.
    If you follow these eight best practices for job descriptions, you should have some of the best applicants out there falling in love with you.  Who knows, maybe they'll even buy you some chocolate.

    Writing A Thank-You Note When You Aren't Hired

    Writing a thank-you note to employers is common practice after an interview or after you are chosen for the job.  It's also important to say "thanks" after you've been rejected, too.  What you may not realize is that these letters are way more than a formality.

    If you are gracious enough in defeat, these thank-you letters can be a great opportunity to build bridges rather than burn them.  If the employer senses any hostility in your note, it's unlikely you will ever be considered for a position at the nonprofit again.  If you are sincerely gracious for the opportunity, however, you will find new doors will open for you.

    The first thing you need to do when crafting your follow up is to make sure you are addressing your interviewer, and not the organization as a whole.  It's a common mistake for job seekers to send a message to the nonprofit's general inbox rather than to the specific person who interviewed them.  This is a much more personal approach and it will be greatly appreciated by the interviewer.  That's why it's imperative you get the interviewer's business card when you first meet.

    It's doesn't exactly feel great when you are turned down for a job, so make sure you get rid of any feelings of bitterness when you write your letter.  Don't point any fingers or express disbelief that you could have been rejected.  Instead, ask for advice how you could be a better fit for the position in the future.  You're not necessarily going to get an answer, but that simple request for feedback shows that you are able to take constructive criticism without being offended.

    Crafting an impressive thank-you letter is not going to automatically thrust you to the top of an employer's recruiting list, but it will definitely improve your stock when they hire again.

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Supporting Difference At Your Nonprofit

    If a nonprofit is to truly thrive from the diversity of its employees, its leaders must truly learn to embrace it.  That's the message Martin N. Davidson has for nonprofit managers.

    Davidson, a faculty member and former chief diversity officer at the University of Virginia, wrote about the ways this goal can be accomplished in his book "The End of Diversity as We Know It."  He writes that the first step in the process is to manage human relationships.  This can be a difficult process, but it can be accomplished.  He recommends four core relational skills to engage another individual across differences:
    • Inquiry. This skill goes beyond asking the basic questions and acquiring information verbally. It extends to asking about the rationales that lead to other people’s conclusions, and exploring assumptions about others’ goals and interests.
    • Listening. By conveying a genuine interest, the listener not only gains real knowledge but also lays a foundation for trust and respect that carries over to future interactions.
    • Self-disclosure. The most powerful way to do this is through personal narratives about difference. Self-disclosure is a dynamic process that involves sharing of information.
    • Managing feedback. This means both giving and receiving feedback. Access to accurate feedback about professional and personal behavior is essential for fostering high performance at work and maintaining vibrancy and authenticity in a relationship. It is important to understand, however, that lack of comfort involving differences can make it difficult to exchange feedback.
    You can learn more tips like this by signing up for our free e-newsletters.

    The King's Elevator Speech

    If you've ever watched The King's Speech, you know how important vocal mannerisms are to speeches.  You're not going to have to make any big public speeches during your job search, but there's one speech that's worth mastering: The elevator speech.  We've already talked about how to adapt these pitches to different situations.  Now it's time to learn how make your pitch perfect.

    First, a short recap on the topic: An elevator speech is a short pitch, no longer than 30 seconds, that you make to recruiters.  They are usually made at networking events, and are designed to give listeners a good idea of how your skills can help their organization.

    In The King's Speech, King George VI had a stuttering problem which had its roots in a lack of confidence.  But just because you don't stammer doesn't mean you don't have to practice your pitch.  Practice makes perfect but it also breeds confidence.  Before you head out to your networking event or job interview, practice your speech a number of times with someone who can provide feedback.  Try out different vocalizations each time until you find a style that instills the most confidence in the listener.

    It's also a good idea to record your practice attempts.  How we sound in our head is much different than how we actually sound.  Hearing how your words come out can make a big difference, though it can be a bit strange at first.  Once you get over that, you will have a better idea of how you want to say certain words.

    All of these techniques have the ultimate goal of giving you more confidence when it comes time to make your elevator pitch.  Making the perfect elevator pitch may not make you a king, but you have to start somewhere, right?

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    E-Mailing Your Resume

    Every nonprofit job application you find is going to ask you to e-mail your resume, but they don't always tell you how to e-mail it.  This begs the question: Is it better to send your resume as an attachment or paste it into the e-mail body?

    It's hard to find much agreement on this question.  Some job search experts will tell you that an attachment is more professional, while others will caution that some e-mail programs will block all incoming attachments.  Personally, I think attachments are the best choice.  If an employer doesn't want your resume to be an attachment, they will more than likely mention it in the job application.

    If you do plan to put your resume in the body of the e-mail, there are some guidelines you should follow.  First, make sure you start your message off with a brief introduction.  This should be no more than two to three paragraphs.  It's a little bit jarring to start an e-mail off with your resume and no explanation of who you are and why you are communicating with them.  Think of it as a shorter version of a cover letter.

    Once you are done with your introduction, indicate that you have pasted your resume below your name and contact information.  Concerned with how to format the text?  Here are some suggestions that will make your resume look professional and keep it out of the spam folder:
    • Some e-mail programs are only able to receive plain-text e-mail, so avoid any fancy formatting.
    • Keep your lines short -- between 45 and 60 characters.
    • Use the space bar for indenting, not tab.
    • Don't use exclamation points are all caps.  These are two criteria that spam filters check.
    • Avoid the use of bold or italic tags.  Use asterisks or rows of equal signs for your headings instead.

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    The Executive Career Path

    Hoping to get a job as a big-shot executive at a nonprofit?  Before you get started with your search, it might help to know how other people like you got to the top of the mountain.  But where can you get this kind of information?

    The Council on Foundations (COF), an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit membership association, released a study called the Career Pathways to Philanthropic Leadership Baseline Report.  The premise was to show exactly how the top nonprofit CEOs got their current positions.  By analyzing the professional and personal characteristics of foundation executives positions, COF was able to enhance the details of their report.

    Here are some highlights to give you a better idea how you can enhance your path to an executive job:
    • A majority (79.5 percent) of the 440 foundations that appointed CEOs and executive directors during the research period filled the positions with candidates outside the foundations.  This is good news if you feared you had to already work at the organization to have a shot.
    • On a similar note, a majority of the candidates were not from the philanthropic sector.  Of these transitional candidates, 24.3 percent came from business.
    • The study shows that prior executive experience is a must.  63.4 percent of candidates held either the chief executive (38.9 percent) or the vice president (24.5 percent) positions prior to their ascension.
    • Nearly 20 percent came from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds and 48.7 percent were women.
    • You should make sure to have someone helping you out during your career path.  Some 30 percent of the field leaders interviewed said mentors played a big role in their career advancement.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Career Networking Tip: Don't Sound Rehearsed

    Picture this: You're at a networking event and, to break the ice, you go up to one of the attendees and break out your elevator speech.  All of those hours of practicing have seemingly paid off because you got all of your lines down pat.  There's only one problem: You didn't get the response you wanted.

    We've all been in a situations like this before, and it's pretty discouraging to say the least.  Why would a perfectly rehearsed statement go off so badly?  Part of the problem could be just that: You sounded too rehearsed.  Just like you would adapt your resume or cover letter depending on the job, you also need to adapt your networking talking points based on the situation.  For instance, you wouldn't want to say anything like this at a casual networking party:
    "Hello, my name is John Q. Public and I have a successful track record of fundraising at several different organizations.  If you have a few minutes, I'd like to inquire if you have any contacts at a nonprofit that would be in need of my vast knowledge and expertise."
    OK, that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the picture.  That kind of sell would be more useful if you were attending a more formal event, say, a business party.  It would be completely obvious you are going off of a prepared script if you said those exact words at a small social gathering.  At those kind of events, you want to keep it more casual.  Make some observations about the party or ask if they tried that great punch.  Anything like that is a good starting point before you start talking business.  You will only hurt your cause if you come off as a robot.

    Do you have any success stories from past career networking events?  Share them with us in the comments section below.

    Resume Red Flags

    There are a lot of things in a resume that can automatically disqualify a candidate: Consistent spelling errors, lack of necessary experience, etc.  But what about those resumes that are near perfect except for one or two red flags?

     Life as a hiring manager is tough work and the last thing you want is more grey area when deciding which candidates to pursue.  Resume red flags could turn out to be no big deal, or they could be an indication of a larger flaw in the job applicant.  It's up to you to do a thorough screening of the candidate to figure out what the situation is.

    In their book "The Big Book of HR," Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem list four red flags to look out for when reviewing resumes:
    • No dates of employment -- just organizations listed with job duties.
    • Gaps in employment (unless these are explained in the resume/cover letter).
    • Frequent job changes to positions of lesser responsibility.
    • Lists of accomplishments that can't be linked to specific jobs.
    Mitchell and Gamlem write that you should immediately highlight these issues while doing a phone screen with candidates.  This will help you to better evaluate them for the position.  It may turn out that they had a perfectly acceptable reason for taking a lesser position (family issues etc).  On the other hand, it could be an indication that they have a history of taking the path of least resistance.  Whatever the case may be, it's important to get to the bottom of it.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    So You Want To Be A Major Gifts Officer

    Every nonprofit needs an effective Major Gifts Officer.  That's why you often see openings for this position while browsing job boards.  Do you think you have what it takes to make it in this demanding position?

    As the title of the job suggests, a Major Gifts Officer is in charge of securing large gifts from the key donors.  What constitutes a major gift can vary from organization to organization.  For smaller nonprofits, it could be $100.  For larger ones, it could be $100,000 or more.  The major gift officer will have constant contact with major gift prospects, and will generally report to the Chief Development Officer.

    So what career skills are required to be a great Major Gifts Officer?  During the Association For Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) International Conference in Boston, Mass., Mark Kostegan, senior vice president of development for the Mount Sinai Medical Center, detailed nine skills that a Major Gifts Officer should have:
    • Since you will be working with a number of different donors, often at the same time, it's important to have the ability to build and maintain relationships quickly.
    • You must have excellent listening skills.
    • You must also have strong verbal and communication skills.
    • Can you organize yourself and your time effectively?  If so, you have one of the most important attributes of a Major Gifts Officer.
    • You must never be satisfied with the status quo.  Drive yourself to set and reach challenging goals.
    • Mental and physical stamina to maintain a hectic schedule.  This includes a lot of traveling.
    • A collaborative and collegial work style is a must.
    • Confidence and poise to work effectively with individuals of significant wealth.  Money can be intimidating, so this is a lot harder than it seems.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Featured Nonprofit Job: Vice President For Business Development

    We have a lot of prestigious nonprofit organizations that post their jobs to our career center.  You can now add IREX to that list.

    IREX is an international nonprofit organization that provides thought leadership and innovative programs to promote positive change globally.  The organization is currently seeking an individual to be its new Vice President for business development.  This position reports to the President and is a great opportunity for anybody looking for a high level job in development.

    So what does this position entail?  The VP for business development will be responsible for a number of different important tasks:
    • Develop and implement an annual strategic plan for public and private new business development.
    • Leverage internal and external data to lead the process of priority-setting and strategic decision-making.
    • Build a professional and trusting relationship with key IREX clients.  This kind of networking is crucial to advance the goals of the organization.
    • Tap strategic high-level contacts to gather business intelligence, identify partnering opportunities, and strengthen international recruitment.
    • •Personally reach down and across the organization to gather information that would support marketing and facilitate strategic conversations (e.g., about client systems, regions, countries, and programs).
    • Provide guidance and set expectations for field staff support in the new business development process.
    Here are qualifications for the position:
    • 15+ years of progressive leadership experience in new business development for an international development organization.
    • Significant personal contacts globally within USAID, State Department, and other USG agencies.  Non-USG and private sector sources are also a plus.
    • Excellent leadership skills in the areas of communication, decision making, facilitation, supervision, and planning.
    • International development experience in one or more of the following technical areas preferred: basic education, civil society strengthening, media development, youth development, conflict resolution, and gender.
    Apply for this job today at the Nonprofit Job Seeker.

    Don't Use These Follow Up Techniques

    It's always a good idea to follow up after you had a job interview.  It shows that you are committed to getting the job, and it's just the polite thing to do.  But job seekers beware: There are some bad ways to follow up with employers.

    The difference between a well written and a sloppy thank-you note can be the difference between getting the job and being rejected.  It's not just poor grammar that can turn off a hiring manager.  The tone and style you use is also very important.  Here are some follow up techniques you should avoid:
    • Don't make turn your follow up e-mail into a novel.  Hiring managers don't have time to read long-winded messages.  Anything longer than a paragraph is too long.
    • Don't be too aggressive with your communications.  You only need to send a thank-you message to the employer's e-mail.  Sending the same message to multiple sources (i.e. the organization's Facebook page, Twitter, etc) crosses the line and, frankly, is a little creepy.
    • Don't send angry e-mails if you don't hear back from the employer as soon as you would like.  Remember that hiring managers have a lot on their plate, and it can take them a while to get back to you at times.
    • Remember to use a professional tone in your message.  Avoid the use of informal language.  You're talking to an employer, not a friend.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Moving Your Career To The Next Level

    Career paths are a lot different now than they were in the past.  Gone are the days of staying at a job long-term.  These days, it's more common for an employee to find a new job after just a few years.

    If you have been in the job market for a while, you have likely experienced a lot of turnover in your career.  This can make it difficult to appear unique to prospective employers.  Not to worry, though, there are plenty of tips on how to continue to advance your career.

    During the Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits in National Harbor, Md., William F. Bartolini, associate vice president for development at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., discussed some ways to highlight your uniqueness to employers:
    • Find out what you are most passionate about.  Start by making a list of your best attributes.  Once you are done, share it with a trusted friend and a trusted co-worker to see what feedback they have.
    • We all like lists, so why not make another?  This time jot down all of the accomplishments you've earned, the challenges you've faced, and the experiences you want to have.  This will help you paint a better picture of yourself when it comes time for a job interview.
    • Create a short speech to use when at a networking event.  This is called an "elevator speech," and it should describe your experiences and advantages.  It should be no more than 30 seconds in length.
    • Finally, figure out where you want to go with your career.  Do you want to just be involved with fundraising or do you want to do a little bit of everything?  Do you want to work for a small or big organization?  These are all questions you need to ask to get your career on the right track.

    Details Of The Second And Third Job Interview

    Most job seekers know how to prepare for the initial interview.  You get your talking points ready, prepare for a barrage of questions, and look presentable.  But what do you do if you are called in for a second or third job interview?

    Nonprofits always conduct multiple job interviews for management positions.  They are useful because they allow employers to get a better sense of who you are.  Think of the first interview as a screening process: It's meant to determine whether you meet the basic qualifications for the job.  In the second interview, you are going to be pressed for more details to back up your claims.  It's also an opportunity for the employer to explain the intricacies of the position, and the compensation you would receive.

    If you are called in for a third interview, congratulations: You are well on your way to getting the job!  This interview is for the employer to finalize their view on your skills, so they can be absolutely sure you are the right fit.  You will usually be meeting with the hiring manager, someone from human resources, and maybe even an employee with whom you would be working.  This will also be the time where you would start getting into salary negotiation and other contractual details.

    A lot of job seekers make the mistake of thinking they don't have to do any additional work to prepare for second or thid interviews.  As you can see from the descriptions above, they are a lot different than that initial conversation.  Make sure you are well prepared if you get the call!  For more tips like these, make sure to sign up for our weekly jobs newsletter.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Nonprofit Jobs And Stress

    One perception of nonprofit jobs is that they are very laid back and stress-free.  This couldn't be further from the truth.

    There are many problems that crop up on a daily basis  in the nonprofit sector.  Whether it's continuing budget cuts on the state and local level or the work it takes to secure new donors, nonprofit work can cause a lot of stress for employees.  And that stress can lead to potential health problems.

    At a recent conference on fundraising sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, some of the consequences of stress to employee health were discussed:
    • For employees that report high levels of stress, health care expenditures are nearly 50 percent according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
    • More than 50 percent of American adults suffer adverse health effects because of stress.
    • Stress has been linked to to the six leading causes of death: Heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
    • Women who work full time and have children younger than 13 report the greatest stress worldwide.
    • 23 percent of women executives and professionals and 19 percent of their male peers say they feel "super-stressed."
    • Signs of stress include headache, sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, job dissatisfaction, and low morale.
    None of this information is meant to scare you from getting a nonprofit job.  The fact of the matter is that work-related stress can happen in any job.  If you see yourself suffering from stress, take immediate action to alleviate it.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Preparing For An Employee Interview

    Job seekers aren't the only ones who have pressure on them during a job interview.  Employers have to be on top of their A-game, too.

    Hiring a new employee always comes with risks.  It's up to you, the hiring manager, to make the most informed decision.  That's why employee interviews are so important to the future of your organization.  Good interviews are not just about asking the right questions.  There is a lot more to it, and it all starts with preparation.

    It seems kind of obvious, but it can be very easy to not properly prepare for an interview.  The temptation to skim through a candidate's resume can be great, but you need to find a way to fight that urge.  You should go through the interviewee's paperwork multiple times.  If you are going to attract the top candidates to your nonprofit, you are going to have to show them you handle your position with great professionalism.

    Another thing that shows professionalism is setting a good tone for the interview.  When the candidate walks in, make sure you give them a firm handshake and express how glad you are to meet them.  This is a simple but effective way to make the individual feel welcome and respected.  You should also be sure to let the applicant know how long you expect the interview to last.  This will allow you both to manage time more effectively.

    Here are some other things to keep in mind:
    • Tell the interviewee the specific set of skills required for the position.  Even if this information is already in your job description, it's still important to mention so you are both on the same page.  You don't want there to be any confusion on what the job entails.
    • Prepare a list of interview questions you want to ask the candidate.  If you want some ideas of what to ask, talk to some people in the organization about the job.  They should be able to give you some suggestions on what to ask.
    • Don't be afraid of conducting multiple job interviews.  Does one of the candidates seem too good to be true?  Try to alleviate those concerns in a follow-up interview.  If you still aren't convinced, go with what your gut tells you. 

    Three Salary Negotiation Starting Points

    If you are lucky enough to get a final job interview, you will be presented with one final obstacle: The salary negotiation.

    Negotiating salary is a difficult task.  Job seekers have to balance what they want with what they need, as well as keeping in mind what the employer can reasonably offer.  That's why you should go into the interview with three numbers: What you want, what is acceptable, and what is a non-starter.

    The first number you come up with is one that you would make you ecstatic.  It's a salary that is beyond what you would expect, but is not so far-fetched to be a complete fantasy.  This is where research comes in.  You must have a solid understanding of what the average salary is for the job for which you are applying.  If you see there are some organizations that are paying their employees on the high-end of the spectrum, you should use it for your "dream salary."

    The second number is one that you would accept, even if it isn't everything you would want.  This is generally the salary that the majority of people working the job would get paid.  For example, The NonProfit Times' 2011 Nonprofit Salary and Benefits Report shows that nonprofits paid their non-management development employees an average salary of $36,817.  That would be a salary that would at least pass the "sniff test," and could be a basis for your negotiation.

    The last number doesn't require as much explanation.  This is a salary that, if you were offered, you would reject without hesitation.  This would be something like being offered a $25,000 salary for a job that normally pays in the high 30s.  You probably won't run into this situation very often, but it's good to be prepared.

    Having these three numbers will help you have a basis for which you can evaluate the offer you are given by the employer.  You can then begin your negotiations on a much stronger ground, and that's half the battle.