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Insights for Nonprofit Job-Seekers on How to Stand Out Stand out In Tough Economy
During a trying economy it is even more important for candidates to find ways to stand out and differentiate themselves to potential nonprofit employers.
Bridgestar Reaches 50,000-Member Milestone
During a trying economy it is even more important for candidates to find ways to stand out and differentiate themselves to potential nonprofit employers, according to the current issue of “Leadership Matters,” published by the Bridgespan Group’s Bridgestar initiative, which is dedicated to attracting, connecting, and supporting leadership for the nonprofit sector.
The April issue features “What Nonprofit Employers are Looking for Today”, an interview with Karen DeMay, senior director, executive search at the Bridgespan Group. DeMay explains that although many may institute temporary hiring freezes, and therefore it is even more important for nonprofit management candidates to understand how they can best stand out from the crowd during this very competitive job market.
Advice to nonprofit candidates on how to navigate the job hunting process includes:
• Go back to the basics. All of the things that make senior managers successful in a nonprofit—managing through influence; working with a variety of disparate stakeholders;
• Know the value you bring to the table. Be really clear about what you bring to the organization, your strengths, and your achievements, rather than make career advancement the key motivator for joining the organization. It is important to recognize that executive directors are very focused on the mission of the organization and on advancing that mission.
• Be patient. Decision-making does take longer within nonprofit organizations these days because of the crunch on senior executives’ time. The interview and evaluation process may take longer than usual.
• Communicate your expectations. Be clear in your cover letter about your expectations around compensation, especially if you are coming from a for-profit position. You should acknowledge in your cover letter that you understand in the nonprofit sector you will likely take a pay cut and you are comfortable with that.
• Be sensitive to others’ time constraints and be prepared. When requesting informational interviews be clear about what you are looking for out of the meeting, research the organization and its domain, practice active listening, and ask good questions about how the downturn is affecting the organization. Avoid going into problem-solving mode–-brainstorming without knowing the full picture could be seen as naïve, especially if you do not have significant nonprofit work experience.
• Make your resume stand out. There are several things a candidate can do in their resume to help them stand out in the crowd including:
o Using metrics to succinctly quantify achievements in order to make it easy for the reader to understand accomplishments and responsibilities.
o Highlighting all relevant nonprofit experience, including volunteer and board experience—especially if it pertains to fundraising. This is even more important if the candidate has little to no direct nonprofit work experience.
o Illustrating the ability to reduce and manage costs.
o Including examples of working in quickly changing or ambiguous environments, and/or starting a new program or organization.
Additionally, Bridgestar announced that it has signed its 50,000th member. Launched in December 2003, Bridgestar provides a nonprofit management job board, content, and tools to help nonprofit organizations build strong leadership teams and individuals pursue career paths as nonprofit leaders. Bridgestar’
“The significant growth in membership validates Bridgestar’s mission of being a resource for enhancing the flow of capable leaders into and within the nonprofit sector, and it demonstrates the tremendous need of nonprofit organizations and leaders for resources to help them navigate hiring and career-related questions,” said David Simms, Bridgespan Group partner and head of Bridgestar.
Each month, Bridgestar’s newsletter, “Leadership Matters,” focuses on nonprofit leadership career- or recruiting-related themes. Available to Bridgestar’s more than 50,000 members (or, for a complimentary subscription, please email firstname.lastname@example.org)
The current issue of “Leadership Matters” is available at: http://www.bridgestar.org/
Associate Director, Marketing and Communications
The Bridgespan Group
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Bridgestar, an initiative of the Bridgespan Group, provides a nonprofit management job board, content, and tools designed to help nonprofit organizations build strong leadership teams and individuals pursue career paths as nonprofit leaders.