Thursday, November 7, 2013

10 Illegal Job Interview Questions

You are always taught as a job seeker to answer every question the hiring manager throws at you during a job interview. Sometimes, however, there are questions you are under no obligation to answer.

Employers' job interview questions are designed to gather as much information about you as possible so they can make an informed decision. The majority of the time these questions are simple and appropriate but there are some, rare, occasions where you will be asked a question that is simply illegal.

State and federal laws forbid discrimination based on certain protected categories, such as national origin, citizenship, or age. Below are 10 examples of questions that, should they come up, you are under no obligation to answer; all you have to do is politely decline to respond.

  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you practice any religious customs?
  • How many children do you have?
  • Were you born in this country?
  • How long have you been working?
  • Do you have any outstanding debt or any other financial problems?
  • Do you have a history of using any illegal drugs?
  • Do you like to drink socially?
  • Is English your first language?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fundraiser Tips: Don't Say You're Sorry

There are legitimate times to say you're sorry -- like when you accidentally bumped into someone, spilling their hot coffee all over them. Or when you forgot your anniversary for the second year in a row.

While those situations call for apologies, you should never feel sorry about making an ask as a fundraiser.

“To go out and to have an apologetic tone when you are asking really sends a mixed, conflicted message to the people you are talking to,” said Timothy Winkler, CEO of Winkler Consulting Group in Charleston, S.C. Speaking at a recent Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits, Winkler listed four reasons you should never say "sorry" as a fundraiser.
  • People don’t just hear “sorry.” What you say and what donors will interpret may be different when quickly follow up your ask with an apology. “The secondary message behind what you are communicating to those folks is ‘our mission really isn’t that important. Our mission really isn’t that urgent. Our mission isn’t a priority — there are other more important things you should be focusing on,’” said Winkler.
  • Times are tough. Everyone knows that the economy is in the pits. Your donors don’t need you to remind them of that. That’s what news reports are for. When you ask like the donation is a burden, it will feel that way to the donor.
  • Communicate the need. Statistics have played out again and again that donors still give during economic downturns. Donors need to feel that your mission is worth their discretionary dollar – so make your case for giving as strong as ever.
  • Be confident. “It’s a subtle tone and attitude, but it makes a huge difference in your effectiveness in raising that money,” said Winkler. Like a bad cold, confidence can spread from person to person. Let your donors catch your enthusiasm for the mission.

Monday, November 4, 2013

5 Mistakes Of New Nonprofit Employees

So you finally got that nonprofit job. You might think the hard part is over but in reality the first few weeks at a new employer can be the hardest.

Whether you are working at a nonprofit job in New York or Iowa, you will find, as a new employee, that there is a lot on your plate. The choices you make in your first few weeks on the job will determine whether you will be successful.

The technical aspects of the job -- your duties, etc. -- are hard enough, but it's how you behave in your new environment that can ultimately make the difference. That's why all new employees should avoid these five potentially job-killing behaviors:
  • Ignoring the Organizational Culture: This is especially important to consider for those who are new to the nonprofit sector. Pay attention to how your co-workers act, and adjust your behavior accordingly.
  • Arrogance: Nobody likes an employee who thinks they know everything and this is especially true when you have yet to prove your worth. A little humility in your dealings with co-workers will go a long way.
  • Blending In: On the flip side, it's also not good to be perceived as avoiding responsibility or ignoring your new co-workers. Start making connections from day one.
  • Not Admitting Mistakes: There's nothing wrong with making an error but there is something wrong with not admitting it. As the old saying goes, the cover-up is worse than the crime.
  • Not Asking For Feedback: After one month on the job, you should ask your supervisor for a brief meeting so you can find out how you are doing. This will show that you are open to feedback and are committed to doing the best job possible.