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It’s a Competitive Landscape

It’s a Competitive Landscape

jane griffith photoJane Griffith Practice Leader – Academic and Not for Profit at Four Corners Group, Inc  joined today’s Fundraising Mastermind call to talk about trends and hot topics in the not-for-profit world. Her advice and comments were so powerful that I immediately sat down and wrote this blog post.  Here is Jane’s advice for competing in the competitive landscape of not-for-profit executive search jobs.

It’s a competitive landscape

It seems awfully competitive out there because it is! People are not retiring like they used to, and the people that ARE competing for jobs in the not-for-profit sector are also coming from the private sector. There is a huge amount of competition.

Focus on transferable skills

Organizations often choose a short candidate list based on the “least amount of risk” when hiring to ensure maximum and immediate success. That means that if you have a corporate background, look to not-for-profit organizations that understand corporate cultures and who will be more receptive to considering your corporate history. Best advice? Look at their donor pool. Is it a corporate-minded list with banks and investment firms? Chances are, they understand your corporate background. Use your not-for-profit appropriate language in the interview. Increased sales is “finding new donors,” building relationships is “stewardship,” and beware of using too much jargony language, especially if your hiring representative is not a fundraiser (Raiser’s Edge – what’s that? Moves management, other technical  terms).

Tailor your CV to the job

You tailor your foundation proposals to the foundation, right? So be sure to customize your CV to the skill set requested by the job description.

Phone interviews are a two-way street

Beware of talking “at” people on phone interviews. You are having a dialogue, not a 25 minute monologue about your past 3 fundraising positions. Use your major gift skills and ask questions so you can better understand what the recruiter is looking for.

Chronology resumes still rule supreme

There’s been a trend towards skills-based resumes. Jane is a timeline kind of gal. She still prefers the opportunity to see where you’ve worked in chronological order. And yes, it does matter if you’ve jumped around a lot in your job. It matters because it matters to the employer. You represent risk to them, so how you address this in an interview will be key. One great idea Jane had was to batch all your roles at one organization under a larger sub-heading. For example, you have been at Charity X from 2001-2007. In that time, you have held three successively responsible positions. So you’ve changed roles frequently, but it’s all under a larger umbrella.

Differentiate yourself

Jane reads approximately 120 resumes for one job posting. Have a concise, readable CV that is not in 10 point font that draws parallels to the job description.  Do not overwhelm the reader “on a first date.”  Have something on your resume that piques a recruiter’s interest so they are interested enough to pick up the phone and call you.

Are you resilient?

Employers want to know that when the going gets tough you are not going to back down. They want to hire people that can stick to something when the going gets messy. That’s why they are worried when they see you jumping around in your jobs too much.

Have a strength and a weakness

Yes. They are going to ask you what your weakness is. Answer honestly, and show how you are working towards remedying that weakness. Show that you are self aware, and that you are trying to modify your behaviour.

Use your interview to ask questions

Take your interview time to ask questions about the organization, to show that you’ve done some research about them.  Don’t just reiterate the questions they asked you. Ask what success looks like, how they measure success, what their key performance indicators are, and how they see you fitting into their team.

Final thoughts

I  also learned that recruiters are motivated to place the right person in the right job. Jane’s policy is that if the chosen candidate does not stay in the position, she will redo the executive search for free.  That’s a commitment to quality, and a commitment to getting to know her candidates.

Let the recruiter get to know you, share your volunteer experiences, and let your resume have some personality. Jane wants candidates to demonstrate desire, connection to the organization and humility when interviewing.

You can connect with Jane Griffith via LinkedIn