Secret #3: Be prepared.
Yes, like a Scout, you need to be prepared for every potential job interaction.
In the first two posts in this series, we covered the first two steps:
1. Find clarity in your job search. You must answer some of these basic questions before applying for jobs:
- What causes are you passionate about or interested in being part of?
- What size of organization do you work best in? Really small, small, mid-sized, large, super large?
- What stage of organizational development is the best environment for you? Stable, start up, innovative, traditional, growing, transitioning, merging, or a combination of these?
2. Build and connect with your network. You need help finding a job, and other people want to help you. Before reaching out, be crystal clear on how others can help you. And sometimes other professionals can help you find clarity through mentoring.
Preparation will help you stand out among the crowd.
Hiring managers are receiving 30 to 130 resumes per job posting. Not only must your resume be tailored toward the job, you must find ways to connect personally with the nonprofit and be prepared to do so at every moment. The third step is to be prepared in several ways and conduct your own research at every step along the way.
Don’t forget that you’re also vetting the organization during the hiring process. You won’t know if a job is right for you just based on the job ad or job description, so you’ll need to gather more info.
Using your clear idea of the job you want and your network, think about ways to search for additional information at each step of your job hunt. A good sales person always knows the context that she’s selling. Right now your job is to sale yourself, make sure you’re prepared and organized.
- When applying at a charity, who do you know that could tell you more about the culture? How are you connected to the board of directors or an employee? This is where your network will really pay off.
- Research the title and its standard job description. How does it align with the posted job description? What do those differences reveal about the organization and the job?
- Look up the nonprofit on guidestar.org to reveal the budget, salaries, and other financial information.
- Attend events for similar organizations in the same industry, e.g. homeless services, museums, health clinics. You’ll be surprised at the overlap in people.
- Google. An old-fashioned internet search can reveal a wealth of information about both the people and the organization itself. Be on the lookout for ways you’re connected to the nonprofit and its people.
This research will help you get a foot in the door for an interview and be more knowledgeable once you get the interview.
Take Preparation to the Next Level
In my mind, I also think of preparation as being prepared to be interviewed. Every networking event is an interview; every coffee meeting is an interview. Every volunteer gig is an interview.
- Each day review the roles you are searching for and why you’re qualified for those roles.
- Once a week review your contacts and request three more meetings or connections.
- Once a week identify the projects that are moving your job search forward. These could be a training or workshop, a new volunteer project, a new skill you’re learning at your current job, or a book you’re reading for new insights.
- Once a month review and update your resume and standard cover letter. Fresh eyes will make it better each time.
By having a series of steps during your hunt for a meaningful job, you’re more likely to make connections during a conversation. And you’re less likely to get frustrated because you’re consistently tracking your progress.
Finding a new job, especially one you care deeply about, can be hard. Take it easy on yourself, but always be taking steps forward.