Feb 2, 2007

Looking for a job? How I learned to market my skills in the nonprofit sector.

During my career I’ve had the opportunity to work in the career services department at my undergraduate institution and work with a nonprofit recruiter. These experiences taught me how to improve my resume, and market myself better during the interview process as a result get the jobs I want—like this one.

If you are trying to change jobs or just getting into the nonprofit sector, here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Resumes are more effective when they show specific examples of completed tasks AND organizational improvement results based on the completed tasks, for example:

  • TASK: Engaged in strategic technology planning and budget process, overhauling website for RESULT: improved donor cultivation.
  • TASK: Coordinated annual direct mail appeal and quarterly mailings, employing bulk mail process for RESULT: cost savings.

2. Organizations that you interview with like to hear specific examples of HOW you are good at what you do!

I’ve been on both sides of the interview process, but as an HR person I’m always looking for the candidate to give specific examples about how they improved their organizations. Also, I want those examples to relate back to the position I am trying to fill.

Many times there is an interview question like "What are your strengths?" Don’t just answer, "I am very organized." The candidate should say why they are organized and how they improved the organization, like this:

  • One of my strengths is that I am organized, I recently completed a project where I improved the organization’s media tracking and posting system, which resulted in revitalizing our communications efforts.

For more tips like these, check this enewsletter: Making Changes written by Laura Gassner Otting of the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group. She’s also the nonprofit recruiter I used to work with. :)

Gunner and the Aspiration team have been an incredible inspiration and resource for us at OpenNews. Our organization would not be the same without the open approach that Aspiration and Gunner model so well, and their ongoing coaching and support as our programs evolve. Thanks!

Erika Owens, OpenNews
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