Friday, March 30, 2012

Salary Negotiation Questions

Here's a scenario to consider: You've been offered the job of your dreams but aren't quite happy with the employer's initial salary offer. You've researched the salary and benefits that are typical for the position and believe you are being shortchanged. How do you handle the negotiation process?

This is a scenario that most job seekers will have to deal with at some point. Yet salary negotiation isn't exactly an easy art to master. Asking for more money, even if it's deserved, can generate a lot of stress. The good news is that you have a lot of options at your disposable when it comes to getting what you want.

Despite popular belief, negotiation doesn't involve two people just talking at each other. There a lot of different questions you can ask when you receive a job offer that will help you determine your next steps:

  • "Is this salary negotiable?"-If they say no, you can negotiate other terms.
  • "Is this total or base compensation?"-This will allow you to determine whether you will be offered additional bonuses that can boost your pay, such as incentive bonuses.
  • "When do you need an answer?"-You should never feel pressured to accept a job offer on the spot. Do some thinking about your various options before you decide what to do next.
  • "Will I get a written job offer?"-Most people are trustworthy, but this is always a good thing to ask for to prepare for that one bad apple that could be out there.
  • "Will I be able to telecommute?"-If you feel the commute to your job will put a strain on your budget, find out if there are opportunities to work from home occasionally.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A "Weak" Job Interview Question

If you polled job seekers regarding their least favorite interview questions, they would probably all mention "What's your biggest weakness?"

There are a lot of things about this question that make applicants uncomfortable. For one, it seems like a trick question; should you answer sincerely or do the old turn-a-negative-into-a-positive routine? A lot of job seekers are hesitant to mention what they aren't good at for fear that one wrong answer could disqualify them.

The weakness question is still pretty popular among employers, so applicants must be prepared to answer it despite their hesitations. Here are three suggestions on how to successfully ace this difficult question:

  • Be Truthful But Positive: Don't mistake this for trying to make you biggest weakness your biggest strength (i.e., "I'm too much of a perfectionist"). Be truthful about what you're not good at and outline the steps you are taking to improve.
  • Ask Your References: If you're having a hard time thinking of an answer, check in with the people you are using as job references. They will have a more honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. This will also guarantee that employers will get the same answer when they ask the same question to them.
  • Look to the Job Description: Make sure you truly understand the job for which you are applying. If you see that it requires skills that you aren't good at, don't apply. This is the best way to be confident you won't be revealing a weakness for a skill that is necessary for the job.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Steps To A Functional Resume

Not all job seekers are blessed with an extensive work history. If it's true that employers place a heavy emphasis on experience when reviewing a resume, how is an individual who hasn't yet had much work supposed to get a job?

The answer lies in the functional resume.

A functional resume, as seen in this sample from, is one of multiple types of resumes that can be written. It is best used for applicants with a light job history, as it focuses on skills and experience rather than a chronological work history.

Start your functional resume by writing an objective statement, just as you would do in a standard resume. This will lay out the type of job you are looking for in relation to your skills and experience. The objective statement should be no more than two sentences.

The next step will be to summarize your skills and experience. This can be done either in paragraph form (as shown in the previously linked sample) or as a bulleted list. I personally prefer using bullet points as I find them easier to read. Make sure to list only the skills that apply to the nonprofit job for which you are applying.

The final thing you need to add is a list of your professional accomplishments and your education. These can either be awards you have received or goals that you helped previous employers reach. I recommend listing your professional accomplishments before your education, as this will be what employers most want to know.

Do you have any experience with functional resumes? Feel free to share your stories in our comments section, or tweet at us @nptjobs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pitfalls To Online Background Checks

You can add hiring managers to the list of people who enjoy the amount of information they can gather via the Internet. Tools like social media have given them the ability to get more information for their online background checks than ever before.

Online background checks have made life very easy for employers, but it's easy to forget that there are some pitfalls to all this information. In her article “Social Media: Its Use by Employers in Pre-Employment, Employment and Post-Employment Situations” which appeared in “New York Public Personnel Law” and was reprinted in the book “Social Networking,” Eileen Morgan Johnson warns about some of these potential dangers:
  • Too Much Information: Johnson reminds employers that information found in an online profile (age, race, etc.) cannot be used in the hiring process.
  • Quality of Information: Just because the profile has your applicant's name doesn't mean it's the person you want. Verify this before you make any judgments. After this is confirmed, make sure the information is reliable.
  • Invasion of Privacy: Social networking sites like Google Plus have privacy options that allow users to restrict who can see what in their profiles. It can be tempting, but avoid any attempts to circumvent the applicant's privacy.
  • Google and Other Search Engines: These sites can unearth a wealth of information, but be careful what you use; it can be hard to identify the sources for this information at times.
  • Current Law on Reviewing Social Media Sites: There are no current court decisions on this matter, but that doesn't mean they won't be coming soon.
Getting information about your applicants through online background checks is very important, but so is making sure you are following protocol. Your nonprofit could find itself in hot water if it doesn't heed the warnings above.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Increasing Your Career Luck

The word "lucky" has gotten a negative connotation these days. Anything gotten by luck is seen to have been earned not by actual skill, but some form of divine intervention.

Thankfully, this isn't entirely true.

There are many different ways to increase your career luck without having to bargain with a leprechaun. All it takes is a little bit of good timing and a good attitude. Here are some helpful hints to help maximize your good fortune during the job search:

  • Focus only on the aspects of the job search that you can control. This includes building your networking contacts, keeping your career skills up-to-date, and filling out your job applications to the best of your ability.
  • Attend as many networking events as you can. The more contacts you have, the better chance you will have when applying for jobs.
  • Keep a positive attitude. It's understandable that you would be upset if you were passed over for a job you really wanted, but don't linger on it too long. If you expect to fail, chance are you will.
  • Build effective relationships. Helping out other job seekers will make them more likely to help you. There's a good chance they will be able to help you get a job if your efforts led to them getting employed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Returning To A Former Employer

When it comes to getting a new job in the nonprofit sector, you need to consider all options.  That includes going back to an organization you had left.  Who says you can't go back?

Not all reasons for leaving a former employer are negative.  A lot of people leave their old jobs on amicable terms.  If you fall into that category, you should definitely consider giving your old job another shot.

Employers have lots of reasons for wanting to bring back old employees.  There is something to be said for going with a known quantity rather than someone completely unknown.  In addition, there won't be any need to spend money on training.  The familiarity will be good for you as well.  Starting a new job is always a little scary, and those nerves can be reduced by working in a familiar environment.

There are some things you need to know before approaching your old employer.  Just because you left on good terms doesn't mean it will be a slam dunk.  Here are some tips to make the process as smooth as possible:
  • Don't expect to just waltz back in and get the job without any work at all.  You still have to do some networking to have the best chance.  Re-connect with your former co-workers and let them know you are interested in returning.
  • Be prepared to fully explain why you left the organization.  Don't just say you wanted to advance your career.  Focus instead on the valuable career skills and experience you gained while you were away.
  • Don't expect things to be completely the same.  There is going to be some familiarity but that doesn't mean there won't be new rules for you to learn, or new co-workers to meet.
  • For all of you that currently are planning to leave your job: Don't burn any bridges!  Even if you never plan to return, your former co-workers and supervisors can be used as references for future positions.  They won't be likely to help you if you leave on bad terms.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hiring Via Social Media

As social media continues to increase in popularity, nonprofits are turning to it for their hiring needs. The ability to reach out to countless users makes it a perfect match for recruitment. If you haven't yet considered using this medium for your recruiting efforts, it's time to start brainstorming.

One of the great things about social networking sites is the ability to quickly share information. A brief scan of Twitter or Facebook feeds will reveal tons of links to information the user finds useful. You can use this ability to maximize the exposure of your job postings. The minute you have a new position open, use Twitter to send the link to your followers. I find Twitter to be the most useful of the social networking tools because of its ability to reach everybody, not just the people who follow you.

That's not to say Facebook or LinkedIn are not useful. What I especially like about Facebook are the applications you can make to enhance your page. For example, we have a full-fledged career center app on our Facebook page that lists all of the postings from the Nonprofit Job Seeker. You can explore similar applications to increase your followers' awareness of your most recent job postings.

Finally, use your social network to give an inside view of your organization. Share photos of a recent office party, or something else that will give prospective employees a better idea of your organization's culture. It's important to remember that this remains an important factor when people choose a job; nobody wants to work in an office that doesn't seem enjoyable.
Has your nonprofit had much success using social media as a recruiting tool? Share your experiences in the comments section.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nonprofit Recruiting Tips

Nonprofits have plenty of options when choosing where to recruit new employees. The most popular choice these days is online job boards.

Most employers choose to use the Internet for their recruiting because it's easier and it allows them to reach a wider audience. With the rising popularity of social networks, recruiters have even more tools at their disposal. While the Internet is definitely a great tool to use, it's important to remember there are other options at your disposal.

In their book "The Big Book of HR," Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem remind nonprofits of the following recruiting methods to use in addition to the Internet:

  • Former Employees: Employees don't always leave their former workplaces on bad terms. If your organization has a good exit interview process, you should be able to determine which individuals left amicably, and whether you would want to bring them 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.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Job Post Red Flags

Employers' job posts are their version of a resume. Just like how you are looking for the perfect job, nonprofits are framing themselves as the perfect match for applicants. And the same way that they look for red flags in applications, you too can look for warning signs in job listings.

Just because a listing on a job board seems too good to be true doesn't mean it is. If you are concerned about this, there are some warning signs that could be a sign that the job isn't for you. Here are some clues that should make you think twice before applying:
  • The post contains directions to fax your resume. This could just be the organization's way to see if you can follow simple directions. It could also be a sign that they are behind the times.
  • The posting asks you to submit confidential information. A nonprofit will have no need for information such as your Social Security Number until there is a job offer on the table.
  • If a job posting lists it's salary in terms of "up to," you should be aware that you are most likely applying to a job that pays by commission. Don't apply if this isn't a payment structure with which you are comfortable.
  • The post asks you to submit your application by a date that has already passed. Nine times out of ten this means the job is no longer available. But if it's a really attractive job, there's no harm in seeing if this was the exception to the rule.
  • The description focuses on the difficulty of the job rather than selling the company. This could either be a sign that you will be working in a very stressful environment, or the organization is trying to scare away non-qualified applicants.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Writing A Personalized Cover Letter

Imagine it's your birthday. You open up your e-mail and see a birthday message from one of your best friends. Excited to see what he wrote you open it, only to be disappointed by a generic birthday message. This is similar to the feeling hiring managers get when they receive a non-personalized cover letter.

OK, maybe it's not that level of disappointment, but writing a generic cover letter is one of the last things you want to do as a job seeker. I certainly understand why the temptation to do this is great; writing cover letters is a monotonous task, and people will take any shortcut available to streamline the process. Unfortunately, this is one of those shortcuts that doesn't help. A generic cover letter will only make the employer assume you put no work into your application.

The first thing you need to do is create a cover letter template. This will contain a general overview of your skills and experience as related to your ideal job. Save this file with a name like "CoverLetterTemplate." The next time you apply to a job, you will use this template as the basis for your cover letter. You won't necessarily have to change everything. The two areas you need to change are the salutation (with the hiring manager's name) and the opening paragraph, which should include references to the organization and why you are interested in applying.

The level of changes to your body paragraphs will depend on how similar the job is to your original template. If the job for which you are applying matches your ideal position, you probably won't have to make any updates to your skills and experience. You should still make some minor changes, such as referencing how your abilities and experience will help the nonprofit. When you are done, save the file as a different name so you still keep your original template.

There are plenty of cover letter examples online that will give you a better idea of how to structure your template. Take a  look at those if you are having trouble.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Featured Job: Development Associate

Another day, another featured job! Today's position is from Doctors Without Borders which, if you recall, posted a job with us before.

The nonprofit is now looking for a Development Associate for its New York City offices. This position will work with all Foundation & Corporate Relations staff in identifying, developing, and managing strategic relationships with foundation and corporate donors. This work will involve managing a donor portfolio and, in coordination with the Systems and Prospect Research Manager and the Development Assistant, ensuring that the unit is provided with enough support.

Other responsibilities include:

  • Managing portfolio of Foundation donors (giving range $5,000 to $50,000): including direct cultivation by phone, email, personalization of solicitation and cultivation mailings, and in-person meetings.
  • Identifying opportunities for enhanced partnerships, developing strategy with Development Officers and executing where appropriate.
  • Assisting in development of presentation materials for donor meetings and appeals.
  • Assisting with screening of corporate donors as part of larger Development-wide effort to identify corporations that do not meet corporate gift acceptance policy and enter relevant information in database.

The chosen candidate will report to the Senior Development Officer for Foundation and Corporate Relations and will also work closely with the rest of the team.

Interested in applying for this job? Here are the qualifications you must meet:

  • Minimum of 3 years of relevant work experience.
  • Bachelor's degree in related field.
  • Experience cultivating donors and handling donor enquiries over the phone or in-person. 
  • Ability to effectively present information to donors and other employees of the organization.
  • Ability to produce effective donor correspondence that accurately reflects the voice of MSF; prior knowledge of MSF’s content highly desirable.
  • Organized, detail-oriented, creative, problem-solving, analytical, ability to work well under pressure and with deadlines, and to track multiple projects at one time.
Read more about this job and apply via our career center.

Quick Branding Tips To Get Noticed

Every job seeker is looking for that one edge that will help get them noticed by employers.  Whether it's overhauling their Facebook page or attending more networking events, job seekers will try just about anything to give themselves an edge.

Now that we are in the new year, there are some personal branding trends that are making the rounds.  These are not guaranteed to be the savior you need for your job search, but they will give you a better chance of getting noticed by prospective employers.  So without further ado, here are four branding techniques that will help your job search in 2012:

  • Headshots: Spice up your social network profiles by getting a professional headshot to replace your current profile picture.  You always want to look your best when going for a job interview, why wouldn't you want to do the same before?  If you don't already have a profile, it's imperative you put one up, even if you don't yet have your headshot ready.  Employers are less likely to view a profile with no photo.
  • Testimonials: What are people saying about you?  Certain social media sites allow you to answer this question.  For example, LinkedIn has a tool that allows you to get testimonials from your contacts.  You should take full advantage of this so you can use these recommendations in your resume or cover letter.
  • Video Bio: A good way to stand out from the crowd is to create a video bio.  Videos allow you to communicate a lot more than simple text, and it can help solidify your name as a brand.  Creating a video that is worth watching can be very difficult and time-consuming, but it is ultimately worth the effort.  When you are done, upload the final product to YouTube and other video sharing sites.  Make sure to make proper use of keywords when during the uploading process.
  • Stay Active: An employer is more likely to hire someone who stays active during unemployment.  Start doing volunteer work or get involved with a project that you are passionate about.  Staying active when you are out of work will tell employers that you are a person that can be relied upon to work hard all the time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Clean Up Your Online Reputation

When we do stupid things on our own, they usually don't come back to haunt us. Nobody has to know that you accidentally poured that gallon of water into your cereal so you can safely laugh away that mistake. When we do stupid things online, however, they are there for everybody to see.

Reputation truly matters when it comes to the job search. That profanity-laced post you wrote about your ex-boss probably seemed hilarious at the time, but it will cost you if it's ever seen by potential employers. It's easy enough to delete the post but that won't permanently solve the problem. Links to deleted posts will still appear in search engines for a short while. Even though the link won't work anymore, that won't help you much if the title of your post is embarrassing.

There are reputation defending services that can help you with this, but they don't come cheap. The best remaining option to clean up your online reputation is to create new content to drown out the bad. Update your blog with new content that shows your professionalism. If you publish enough new material, those posts will be easier to find then your more questionable articles.

One thing to keep in mind: Don't write too many posts in one day. How much is too much? A good rule of thumb is to stop writing when you run out of interesting and relevant things to say. Rambling posts that have no coherent train of thought can do as much harm as profane ones.

Your blog doesn't have to be your only source of written material. There are literally hundreds of article writing sites out there that will help get your name into search engines. Use them to publish articles you have written offline or write new material. This will serve the dual purpose of getting your name out and enhancing your efforts to bury reputation-damaging material.

Of course, the best way to avoid hurting your online reputation is to avoid writing unprofessional things in the first place. Think before you write!

Featured Job: President/CEO

Looking for a good executive job? The Village Network, based in Smithville, OH, is looking to hire a new President/CEO.

Established in 1946, The Village Network specializes in the treatment and care of troubled youth. The President/CEO reports directly to the Board of Trustees and is involved in the following critical areas of the organization:

  • Children's treatment;
  • Human resources;
  • Fundraising;
  • Maintenance of buildings;
  • Grounds and equipment;
  • Fiscal management;
  • Volunteerism;
  • Licensing and accreditation; and,
  • Public relations.
All these responsibilities are in addition to the day-to-day CEO duties, such as ensuring the continued growth of the organization and overseeing the budget (which is over $25 million). 

It goes without saying that this is an extremely high-level job. As a result, you will need to have a wealth of experience at your disposal. The ideal candidate will meet the following requirements:
  • Extensive experience with fundraising, building partnerships with stakeholders, and development and implementation of organizational strategy.
  • Master's Degree with both clinical and nonprofit business experience or equivalent.
  • At least 10 years of related experience.
  • Math, reasoning, and computer skills, including spreadsheet management, are of great importance.
  • Must have a valid driver's licence and be able to drive to various locations throughout Ohio and, occasionally, out of state.
Interested? Apply for this job on our website

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Featured Job: Meeting Coordinator

The New Jersey Association for Justice, based in Trenton, NJ, is looking for a highly experienced meeting coordinator to help plan its various meetings and events.

The ideal applicant will have excellent negotiation skills, an ability to deal with all types of people, computer proficiency (specifically Microsoft Office programs), and superb on-site operations experience. If chosen, the candidate will report to the Executive Director and manage legal education meetings for the Association. These meetings range from the small (15) to the large (2,300). The coordinator will also manage high-level gatherings, such as executive and Board of Directors meetings.

Here are some additional qualifications needed:
  • 4-year college degree in related field.
  • Experience dealing with a volunteer-based committee environment.
  • At least 2 years experience in all facets of meetings management.
  • Strong background in budget management and conference reconciliation.
Interested? Apply for this job via our career center.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Featured Job: Executive Director

New England Village, a campus-based residential community for adults with disabilities based in Pemboke, Mass., is looking to hire a new Executive Director.

As you might expect, the Executive Director (ED) plays a big role at New England Village. The chosen applicant will work with the Board of Directors to provide a vision for the future of the organization. This will include playing a primary role in purchasing service contracts from the state, managing construction and renovation projects, fundraising, and much more. The ED will also work with New England Village's senior management team to establish annual and long-term organizational goals, and will be actively involved with new staff and program development. You're going to have a lot of responsibilities, so make sure you are excellent at multitasking.

Speaking of requirements, here's a list of things you must have to be considered:

  • Experience leading and managing organizations or units of compatible purpose and similar complexity.
  • Experience with state and federal contract negotiations and Medicaid/Medicare reimbursement is preferable.
  • Demonstrated skills internally of communication and inspiration, including team-building and participatory decision-making, and externally of organizational representation, including the formation of strategic partnerships.
  • A comprehensive professional understanding of and background in working with individuals with developmental disabilities.
  • Four-year college degree in related field.
To make things even better, the job is in an ideal location: Only 35 miles south from Boston! Interested? Apply for the job on our website.

College Graduates: Avoid These Job Search Mistakes

College graduates entering the "real world" face an improving but still difficult job market. Yet they have one thing that gives them an advantage compared to other job seekers: Youth.

Nonprofits are always looking to get a fresh infusion of youth. Some people say that youth is wasted on the young, but college grads tend to have a lot of enthusiasm and energy that organizations need to advance their missions. Youthful energy and a charming smile won't get you anywhere if you don't conduct your job search properly. Here are some common mistakes made by college graduates that you should make sure to avoid:

  • Not Taking Advantage of the College Career Center: These offices are here for a reason, so make sure you visit them. They can help connect you with alumni currently working in the field.
  • Not Preparing Enough: It can be tough to focus on the job search while also completing your schoolwork, but you shouldn't wait until after graduation to start preparing. You should start making networking contacts once you choose your major.
  • Only Using the Internet: Online job boards are great, but they shouldn't be your only source. Make effective use of traditional methods like attending career fairs.
  • Setting the Bar Too High: Ambition can be a good thing, but don't let it stand in the way of getting a good job. The first job you get out of college should be all about building up your skills so you can eventually get that dream job.
  • Not Following Up Quickly: Don't wait more than a week to follow up with the employer after you send in your resume. You don't want to seem like a pest, but you don't want to appear disinterested, either.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hire For The Future

Here's a simple question: Why is your nonprofit looking to hire a new employee? The obvious answer would seem to be "Because we have a current need in the position." While hiring for the present is all well and good, nonprofits also need to make sure they are keeping the future in mind.

This can be a difficult idea to sell. After all, the present needs of the organization are much clearer than those years from now, and there is seemingly more to gain by focusing on the here and now. In reality, there is much more to be gained by looking towards the future. One of the best ways to do this is hire employees who have multiple areas of expertise.

Even if you are hiring for a fundraising position, you should make sure this person has more to offer than the proven ability to raise money. For example, a fundraiser with social media savvy will help your nonprofit as new trends emerge. It wasn't too long ago that Twitter and Facebook were the talk of the town. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, Pinterest arrived, bringing a new social media platform for nonprofits to explore. Having the ability to raise money in multiple arenas will be of great help down the road.

Make sure to keep this in mind the next time you review an applicant's resume. Your employees must be able to adapt, especially in an environment that changes as often as the nonprofit sector does.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

5 Ways To Improve Your Nonprofit's Hiring

Has your nonprofit been having trouble hiring employees? Have the past few people you've hired turned out to be, uh, less than ideal? Then it might be time to change up your hiring process.

Bringing on new employees always comes with risk, but that doesn't mean you should just throw up your hands and accept it. Too many hiring managers select new employees based on a gut feeling rather than the raw facts. If this sounds familiar to you, then you are going to have to make some changes. With that in mind, here are five hiring tips that will give you a better chance of bringing in the right employee:

  • Start thinking about recruiting before you need new people. You never know when you're going to get that dreaded two-week notice.
  • Interview multiple candidates. Just because your first candidate blows you away doesn't mean you should stop considering other people. That next applicant could be just as, if not, more impressive. If an employee doesn't work out, you don't want to regret not doing your due diligence.
  • Avoid generic questions. Asking only things like "Why do you want the job?" will not get you a good feel of what this person is like.
  • Check references. This seems obvious, but not all employers actually question the references they get from applicants. There are strict laws about what you can ask former employers, so make sure you don't ask anything relating to the employee's skills, attitude, attendance, etc.
  • Set expectations. Let the applicant know what will be expected of them should they be chosen to work at your nonprofit. This is the best way to prevent any misunderstandings they may have regarding the position.

Finding Work Outside Your Major

You expect to find a job in your major when you spend four or more years in college. After all, that is the kind of work for which you are presumably most passionate. Nonprofit jobs can accommodate a lot of different skills, however, so you shouldn't feel like you are bound to your major.

Job seekers sometimes have the mistaken belief that it will be harder for them to get a job outside of their major. While it's true that it will take a little bit more effort, it's hardly impossible. There are plenty of opportunities to enhance your existing career skills to open you up to other opportunities. Here are some suggestions to help you find a job outside your comfort zone:

  • Take continuing education or graduate courses in a subject that interests you. You don't need to have a four-year college degree to get the attention of employers; every little bit of experience helps.
  • Identify any transferable skills you gained in college or elsewhere. These are skills that can be applied to multiple different fields.
  • Consider getting a minor in another subject if you are still in college. This will add depth to your resume and cover letter.
  • Remember that your degree holds many different possibilities for the nonprofit sector. For example, an English major can easily get a job at a nonprofit as a writer for the website or a PR person.
  • Build a network of contacts in the field in which you are interested. The relationships you build with these people will ultimately assist you in getting the job you want.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Setting Obtainable Job Search Goals

What is your ultimate goal when you start your job search each day?  If your answer is "To get a job offer" then you have the wrong approach.

By working solely to get a job offer, you are setting yourself for constant disappointment.  It can take weeks to hear back from an employer, if not more.  Setting this kind of goal will only serve to wreck your confidence if it doesn't happen. Without confidence, it can be tough to convince yourself to do the hard work required every week.  Instead of checking your e-mail everyday for that e-mail requesting a job interview, try setting these reasonable goals:

  • I will apply to X amount of jobs this week.
  • I will have X job interviews by the end of this month.
  • I will call X people to request information about their organizations.
  • I will make X new networking contacts via LinkedIn by the end of the week.
  • I will attend X career fairs by the end of the month.
  • I will subscribe to X job newsletters by the end of the month.
These are the kind of goals that are reasonable, yet are ambitious enough to keep you motivated.  An added benefit is they will also improve your chances of getting a job offer.  Here are some additional tips that serve to make your job search less stressful:
  • Don't apply to every job.  Make sure you have some qualifications before you apply (unless it's a job that is simply too good to resist).
  • Don't talk to people who have a negative take on the job search.  It's stressful enough dealing with it without someone else bringing you down.
  • Don't pursue only jobs that pay the most.  Find work that gels with your passions.
  • Take a break if you are getting too stressed.

4 Skills For The Modern Day Job Seeker

Living in a modern society has its ups and downs.  While all the new technology is great, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

Modern life can also be unkind to job seekers.  It used to be that all the skills you needed to impress an employer were great attention to detail, good listening skills, and the right characteristics for the job.  These days, employers expect a lot more from applicants.  You will have to adapt if you want to stay ahead in today's competitive job market.

Here are four skills to master that will help you advance your job search:

  • Intuitive Thinking: Think outside the box when searching for jobs.  For example, when you see an opening for a position, think about the reasons the nonprofit is looking to hire.  Do some research and see if you can find out if the organization has been having trouble in that area.  You can use this information to market yourself as the solution to their issues.
  • Storytelling: Employers want to hear good anecdotes when they interview an applicant.  Being able to weave a good story (provided it's true, of course) will show your communication abilities and put more weight behind your claims.  For example, replace "Greatly increased web traffic to our website" to "Visitors to our website increased from X to Y during my tenure."
  • Be Human: Avoid corporate lingo with easy-to-understand language.  Employers are looking to hire human beings, not robots, so don't try to be overly fancy with your resume writing.  Provide concrete examples of your work instead of using generic statements.
  • Prove Your Worth: Highlight the appropriate accomplishments in your resume and cover letter.  A hiring manager for a technology position is not going to care about your success as a swim teacher at a local college.  If you don't tailor your application to the job, you're chances of being considered are going to fall.

Friday, March 2, 2012

7 Ways Of Motivating With Appreciation

There is a fine line between what is considered genuine appreciation towards employees and potential manipulation. If nonprofit managers are not careful, their simple gesture can be interpreted as an attempt to bribe or manipulate. This will cause employees to become cynical and a drop in performance may occur as a result.

The way to avoid this problem is to make sure the appreciation you show employees is meaningful and well deserved. This can be an excellent way to motivate employees if done properly. Gifts of attention, concern, and interest are the best techniques to build relationships with your coworkers, and will also help build trust, teamwork, and strong morale.

In their book “Being Buddha at Work,” Franz Metcalf and BJ Gallagher list seven of the best ways to go the extra mile for employees and donors:
  • Ask what you can do to help if a coworker seems stressed or frantic.
  • Forward them an article you think would be of interest.
  • Throw in a little something extra when a donor makes a big contribution.
  • Throw in a little something extra when a donor has a problem.
  • Offer to stay late to help meet an important deadline.
  • Ask about coworkers’ families – show that you care about them as people.
  • Get involved in company-sponsored activities and programs, like blood drives and other events.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Picking Your Next Major Gifts Officer

Earlier today, job seekers learned about the qualities they need to become a Major Gifts Officer.  Now let's take a look at what types of people employers should look at when they are hiring one.

Let's face it: If you don't hire the right person, all of your organization's fundraising efforts will be for naught.  When picking a candidate to be your next Major Gifts Officer, the temptation will be to go for someone who already has a strong background in fundraising.  That is definitely an important characteristic, but you will be well-served to go after individuals with more diverse backgrounds.

At a recent Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) International Conference, Holly Duncan, president and CEO of the Morton Plant Mease Health Care Foundation in Clearwater, Fla., outlined the qualities she looks for in a Major Gifts Officer.  Consider using her tips the next time you have an opening for this important position.
  • Techies: People who have a lot of experience with technology will be able to use this knowledge to better connect with major gift prospects.  They might also have qualifications to research, schedule, communicate, and document gifts efficiently.
  • Intellectual Capacity: You don't just want someone with traditional book smarts.  Seek out a candidate who is a problem solver and can think quickly on their feet.
  • Communication: A Major Gifts Officer will have to talk to many different people frequently.  Therefore, it is essential that the individual can express themselves clearly.  This includes both written and verbal communications.  The ability to ask open-ended questions will be key to performing their tasks.
  • Team Player: A lot of the work in this position is independent, but you still want someone who can work effectively with all different types of people.  There needs to be transparency and an attempt to engage co-workers.  Remember: No one owns a donor.