The GREAT JOB SOONER Blog

5 Crazy Mistakes Job Seekers Make

I’m not going to bore you with the same old job search mistakes – letting your cell phone ring at an interview, blah blah. Here are some crazy job search mistakes that are often made even by smart job seekers like you.

1. Making no attempt to get their resume past the gatekeeper when they apply online.

Sending your resume to Human Resources without also sending a copy directly to the hiring manager is a huge missed opportunity. Sure, the job posting doesn’t tell you the manager’s name, but there are ways to find out.

2. Basing their job search on answering job postings.

Given that about three-quarters of jobs are obtained through word of mouth, networking and personal referrals, does it make sense to spend nine-tenths of your job search time looking for jobs online? Learn how to use informational interviews to get a job faster.

3. Under-utilizing LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a great way to advertise your skills to recruiters and make useful connections – if you do it right. Most people don’t know how to use it, starting with how to put together an excellent profile.

4. Not getting serious about job search until they’ve been unemployed for months.

I’m going to be blunt: the longer you’re unemployed the worse you look to employers. If you’ve been out of a job for, say, six months you’re considered “long-term unemployed.” Don’t let yourself fall into that vicious cycle.

If you have just gotten laid off, my advice is to take a reasonable-length vacation if you need to – I suggest a few weeks – then start spending 25-40 hours a week doing a smart, well planned, proactive job search.

If you really feel you’ve got to go crazy and take a year off, I doubt I can talk you out of it – but be prepared for a tough job search when you get back.

5. Failing to capitalize on the expertise that’s available.

Job search is simple and easy, right? Of course it isn’t. Making room in your budget for competent professional resume writing, job search advice and interview coaching is one of the best investments you can make in your future earning potential and career satisfaction.

Just to give you a little more than I promised, I’ll include one more:

6. Trusting themselves to proofread their own writing.

I’ve worked in publishing houses, and I can tell you that even professional writers need a second and maybe third pair of eyes to catch the mistakes they don’t notice because they were too familiar with their own writing. Proofreading isn’t even expensive. Did you know you can get a resume proofread by a professional for $5-10? Go on LinkedIn and find a qualified proofreader. It’s crazy not to.

That’s enough craziness for now. Be smart and get a great job sooner!

10 Ingredients of an Excellent LinkedIn Profile

10 Ingredients of an Excellent LinkedIn ProfileWhat are the must-haves for a LinkedIn profile that enhances your image and helps you advance your job search and career?

I could write a book on getting the most out of LinkedIn, but you probably don’t have time to read it anyway. For now, let’s just look at the top priorities.

Nail these, and you’ll stand out from most of the competition, whether you’re in job search, self-employed or simply serious about career management.

1. Branding.

Know what makes you stand out – your unique brand or key selling points – and emphasize it throughout your profile. If you don’t know what makes you a great person to hire or collaborate with, how is anyone else going to figure it out?

2. A Good Professional Headline.

This is just your title and company, right? Nope. This field is one of the most important for keywords as well as a first impression, so write a more branded headline than the one LinkedIn automatically generated. An easy but effective formula is to start with your job title, then add a dash or symbol followed by a tagline or mention of one or more of your best selling points.

3. Mistake-free Writing.

The vast majority of us, even professional writers, make mistakes in grammar, capitalization, word usage and spelling. Unless you received all A’s in English, you will probably benefit from having your profile copyedited and/or proofread by a professional. You can find a skilled pro via Yelp or free-lancing sites (or by asking me for a name) who may charge less than $20 to fix those little issues. It’s worth it!

4. Keywords.

What are the crucial skills, areas of expertise and designations your employers or customers will be looking for? These words and phrases need to be used appropriately throughout your profile to make it relevant. This helps your profile rank highly in search results when recruiters are looking for someone with qualifications like yours.  Hint: The most important keyword is your desired job title.

5. A Reasonable Degree of Completeness.

A fully developed profile is not only more engaging but will often have better search rankings. Write well-developed Summary (with special attention to the beginning, which is all that shows up unless the user clicks for more), Experience, Education and Skills sections, and don’t neglect Accomplishments (Certifications, Awards, Projects and so on). Added media such as images, PDFs or video are a plus as long as they support your brand.

One are where completeness is not helpful is to list jobs you held many, many years ago that are no longer relevant or that might subject you to age discrimination. Make a strategic choice about how far back to go.

6. A Good Photo.

The online world is very visual and becoming more so all the time. A good photo builds trust and makes you more approachable and memorable. Hire a pro, or have a friend take at least 20 shots in flattering lighting (for example, outdoors in the shade, or during the hour around sunset) and pick the best one.

7. Connections.

The more connections you have, the more chance you have getting introduced to insiders and referred into a job. Each new connection increases your odds of being at least a 3rd degree connection to any given recruiter, which makes it easier for her or him to access your profile and reach out to you.

8. Recommendations.

If an employer is interested in your resume, often their next step is to look at your LinkedIn profile for more clues about you, including social proof that you have the hard and soft skills they want. Ask for recommendations from colleagues and managers, which you can do by visiting their profile and clicking the three dots to the right of their photo. Endorsements (which show up in the Skills section) are less crucial but still useful to make the profile look good, and they may  improve your search rankings.

9. Consistency with your resume.

This doesn’t mean your LinkedIn should be identical to your resume – far from it – but the two should never contradict each other. Prospective employers may be suspicious when a job is omitted from your resume but included on LinkedIn, for example.

10. Good Choices in the Privacy Settings.

Log in and click the drop-down arrow under the tiny picture of you in the upper right-hand corner of any LinkedIn page, then select Settings & Privacy. Review and adjust your settings carefully, especially if you don’t want your current employer to know you’re looking for a new job.

Now, are there only 10 important things to know about optimizing your LinkedIn profile? Of course not. This is a good start, but why not request a free consultation to talk about your specific situation and how you can best use this powerful platform to get a great job sooner?

(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for accuracy.)

90 Days, 32 Informational Interviews, 1 Great Job

This is the true story of how Dan, a self-described introvert, harnessed the power of networking by doing three informational interviews a week, landed a six-figure job he loves – and even enjoyed many of the conversations!

How did he do it? I interviewed Dan to find out.

What was he looking for?

In 2016 Dan (not his real name) was unemployed, except for some sporadic consulting work. But given his strong track record as a manager and individual contributor in various nonprofit organizations, he didn’t feel desperate. Dan was looking for “the right job, not just any job.”

His requirements included the following:

  • A salary of $100K or more.
  • No relocation or long commute.
  • A motivating mission at a large nonprofit, educational institution, government organization or ethical startup.
  • A talented team.
  • The opportunity to be “an educator, not just an administrator.”

Why informational interviews?

Although he did some online job search, Dan decided that informational interviews would help him pinpoint the right opportunity. “I wanted to see what was out there and which organizations were the best to work for.”

How did he get 32 people to make time for him?

He let go of the idea that any particular meeting had to lead to a job. Instead, he decided to approach the conversations “in a spirit of curiosity, or as if I were a reporter.”

“That made it very low-pressure for the people I was talking to, as well as for me,” he said, adding with a laugh, “People like talking about themselves. Who knew?”

“It was really important to get introductions. Yes, I did some cold reach-outs, but mostly it was a matter of reconnecting with people I’d known in the past and hadn’t talked to in a while, especially people who were really smart or well-connected.”

Linkedin was a useful tool in this process. “I would look to see who was working where, or in what field. I joined a couple of relevant groups and then I looked up people in my network who were connected to any of these groups.” This made it easier to reach out to these people, who were now fellow group members.

What kind of questions did Dan ask?

He asked his interviewees about their background, how they got started in their career and job, and what they liked and didn’t like about it.

Going beyond the standard informational interview questions, he also asked them about specific organizations he was interested in. Had they heard news about the organizations and what was going on with them – growth, change, etc.? How did people get hired there? Did this person recommend working there, or warn against it? Often a contact would introduce him to someone connected to an organization that interested him.

Was this whole process easy or hard? Fun or not?

I asked Dan whether he’s an extroverted person who loves reaching out and meeting lots of people. The answer was – no!

“I am absolutely an introvert,” he said. “I had to force myself. I set a numeric goal: at least three info interviews a week.”

The first couple of interviews were the hardest, so he started with easy ones first: former work friends and a mentor. Once he had a few of these meetings under his belt it got easier.

“There were fun moments. I had a lot of great conversations. It was interesting to hear about people’s career journeys. People really opened up.”

“And it got me out of the house and kept my spirits up.”

How did all these info interviews lead to his current job?

Ultimately a contact introduced him to an executive at an outstanding organization he had admired for quite some time.

“I had to ping [the executive] three times before she got back to me. Finally I had a great 15-minute phone conversation with her as she was unloading groceries, and then a few weeks later she sent me a listing for a consulting job. That ended up being my source of income for six months, and finally turned into the job I have now.”

Dan now works in an organization he has long wanted to join, doing work he loves, with the strong educational focus that’s important to him.

How did he feel about starting as a consultant?

The words “consultant” or “contract” raise a shudder of discouragement from many job seekers. I asked Dan how he felt about taking this role.

“Well, I didn’t want to be a contractor; it was a little uncomfortable and strange. But oddly enough, now as I look back on it I sometimes think ‘Hey, it was nice to work from home in my pajamas.”

Is Dan’s story unusual?

It may seem like 32 informational interviews are a lot, but that’s only about three a week for three months. Other job seekers have filled their schedules with one or two meetings daily, with the result of becoming employed within a few weeks.

Conclusion

Informational interviews are a form of networking, which is the fastest way to get a job. Not to mention the fact that the word-of-mouth opportunities you discover are often better jobs those that are advertised!

Three 15-Minute Job Search Projects for Labor Day Weekend

With summer vacations ending, companies will be increasing the pace of their hiring activities. Here are a few small yet powerful things you can do to boost your job search momentum in 15 minutes each – less than an hour out of your Labor Day weekend.

Network at those barbecues and parties – but do it the smart way. Make a list of companies you might want to work for (you can do a quick-and-dirty, top-of-your-head list in five minutes, although eventually you’ll want to build it out to the recommended 40-50 employers). Then mention it to people you talk to over the weekend. Instead of asking people whether they know of any openings – which is usually a very short and sad conversation ending with “No, but I’ll keep you in mind” – ask questions about your target companies:

“Did you know I’m looking for a new job as a (whatever)? I’ve got a list of companies I’m interested in, like X, Y and Z. I’m trying to learn more about them, and not just what I can find out online. Do you have any advice?” Depending on who you ask, you may end up with some useful leads.

Make a plan to improve your resume and other job search materials, even if you don’t have time to work on it now. Get the ball rolling by buying a smart, up-to-date book like Modernize Your Resume by Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark.

Or spend a few minutes searching online for a good resume writer. Look for someone with experience, formal training, glowing recommendations on LinkedIn and/or Yelp, and certification by one of the major professional associations (listed in alphabetical order): Career Directors International, Career Thought Leaders, the National Resume Writers Association or the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Contact your top three candidates and ask for a free consultation.

Or contact me for a referral. I rarely write resumes myself, but I know who’s good out there, and will be happy to make an introduction.

Start getting ready for phone interviews, which can happen unexpectedly. A “quick chat” with a human resources person can happen anytime if you’ve submitted a resume, and even if you haven’t, since recruiters are increasingly trolling through LinkedIn and other online sources to find likely candidates. Look into interview coaches (the advice in the previous paragraph applies here, too, and of course I myself provide interview coaching services), or get a book for a frugal, DIY approach. My own Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview is a steal at $4.99 for eBook, $10.99 for paperback – and Forbes said it’s “Excellent,” by the way.

An added plus is that preparing for interviews will boost your confidence and readiness for networking conversations. And because you’ll be coming up with stories about your work accomplishments, you may discover new material to improve your resume as well.

After you’ve spent 15 minutes on one or more of these projects, pat yourself on the back, forget about job search, get outside and enjoy some sunshine! Exercise and fun will replenish the energy you need to take your next steps. Good luck!

LinkedIn’s New Look – 5 Steps to Make It Work for You

LinkedIn’s new desktop layout provides a more seamless experience across mobile and home – but will it make you look good?

Here’s what you need to do to ensure your profile is branding you the way you want it to – starting from the top and working our way down.

One: Brand Yourself with that Summary “Teaser.”

One of the first things someone viewing your profile will see, in the top box (often called the Snapshot), is the beginning of your Summary – the first 92 characters on mobile, 220 on desktop – along with a “See more” link. Not everyone will click to see more, so make sure those first words contribute to a relevant, positive first impression that supports your professional brand.

The truncation process eliminates line spaces, so you may find that those first 92/220 characters include words or sentences jammed together with no space in between, like this:

CATHY L. CURTISSustainability Consultant – Corporate Social Responsibility – Communicationscathylcurtis@gmail.com

To prevent that, use dashes or symbols (from the “Symbols” font on your computer) to separate the words, like this:

▒ CATHY L. CURTIS ▒ Sustainability Consultant – Corporate Social Responsibility – Communications –  cathylcurtis@gmail.com

Two: Pay Attention to Your “Articles and Activity.”

Since your recent posts and post “likes” now show up at the top of your profile, they’re much more noticeable. So make sure your posts support your professional brand. If you wouldn’t talk about a certain topic in a large meeting at work, don’t post it on LinkedIn. And if the last time you posted was a long, long time ago, it’s time to share some news or an interesting work-related article.

Three: With Job Descriptions Hidden, Make Sure Your Titles Speak for Themselves.

Your job descriptions are now hidden until the reader clicks for more. If there’s something super-important in the description – like the fact that “Analyst III” actually means you built websites – add some description to the job title field, in parentheses like this: “Analyst III (Web Development & Design)”.

That’s actually been a good idea all along, since job titles are a very important field to load with key words if you want your profile to come up high in searches for people with those skills.

Four: Claim Your Accomplishments.

Several sections that once were separate are now grouped under the heading “Accomplishments”:  Certifications, Courses, Honors / Awards, Languages, Patents, Projects, Publications, Test Scores and Organizations. You don’t need all of these things, of course. But by labeling them “Accomplishments,” LinkedIn has made them more important. Enough said.

Five: Be Aware of Other Changes.  

You no longer have a choice about the order of the sections. If previously you had Education or Certifications near the top of your profile to emphasize it, that’s no longer an option. Instead, use your Summary (especially those first 92/220 characters) to draw attention to what’s important.

Groups have not disappeared, but it’s less obvious how to find and interact with your Groups. Click the magnifying glass next to the search field at the top and then click the “Groups” tab that appears. Or scroll down to “Following” near the bottom of your profile and “See more.” Various changes have been made to how your Groups function, mostly to make it less spammy. Here’s more on that.

Advanced Search is still there, you just have to click the magnifying glass first.

The new Notifications page makes it easier to engage with post activity.

LinkedIn Posts is now called Articles and works differently in various ways. The bad news is that your articles are no longer shared with all your Connections. Here’s more info on changes in this area.   

Exporting your LinkedIn connections is now done under Account>Basics.

There’s a new messaging feature similar to Facebook Messenger with a chatbot for scheduling meetings with Google Calendar.

Tagging of contacts is no longer available, but you can do that and more with add-ons like Dux Soup.

Capitalize on the Power of LinkedIn to Build Your Brand

Despite Facebook’s recent entry into the job posting world, LinkedIn remains the preeminent professional networking site. Use it to your advantage!

Starting a New Job Soon? Advice for a Flawless Transition

Saying “yes!” to a job offer sets the clock ticking on a crucial moment in your career. What can you do to start out on the right foot, maximize good relationships and minimize stress as you make your job transition?

This post is an excerpt from my recently published book, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview, available in eBook and paperback formats from Amazon.

A Moment for Career Management

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” – John Dewey

From the moment you accept a new job to your first glowing performance review on the new job, career transition can be a bit of a roller coaster ride – exciting, hectic, even stressful. You get caught up in the whirlwind of that. But it’s also an important moment for some conscious career management.

Career management means realizing that although your new job is at XYZ Inc., your real, lifetime employer is You Inc., and you’re the leader of that enterprise. You

Managing “Me, Inc.” through your job transition means you’re in charge of:

  • Product Development – You and your skills are the product, and your new employer is probably not the last buyer you’ll ever have for that product. How do you want to improve your skills while you’re in this job?
  • Talent Development and Advancement – Do you want to advance within the company, or beyond it? To what role(s)? How will you get there?
  • Finance – If you’ve been unemployed, you may have become painfully aware that you can’t count on a steady income at all times in your life. What’s your plan to create or replenish your between-jobs fund?
  • Marketing Communications – Your current campaign is ending successfully! And good career marketing is ongoing.

Speaking of marketing communications, during this job search, did you find yourself thinking “I wish I had done (X) before I needed to start looking for a new job”? Did you wish you had…

…Kept track of accomplishments and kudos on the job, as “resume material”?

…Taken home copies of your performance reviews?

…Kept your resume and LinkedIn profile updated?

…Built a network and stayed in touch?

…Stayed on better terms with past employers?

If so, plan on taking these steps as you go along, so next time it can all be easier and even more successful!

Let’s look at some specific actions that will support your career as you’re leaving your old job and getting ready to start your new one.

Giving Notice and Transitioning Out

Before giving notice, make sure you have the new job offer in writing, including the start date. If you have any doubts whether that job will really be there – for example, if the company is undergoing extreme turmoil – clarify that with your boss-to-be before you give notice. New jobs have been known to vanish between the offer and the start date.

Gather resume-fodder details while you still can. Giving notice doesn’t necessarily mean the company will want you to stay, and you may suddenly lose access to your computer and hardcopy files. So before giving notice, and without violating agreements or ethics, gather up information that may be helpful in your next job search, such as copies of your performance reviews and details about your accomplishments (how much you increased sales last year, etc.).

Be clear what’s yours and what’s theirs. Does your LinkedIn profile belong to you, even though your employer helped you set it up and it’s connected to your business email address? Do you own your customer contacts or not? Disputes have arisen over these types of information.

Give notice verbally and in writing. Break the news to your supervisor first, in a private meeting, and agree on how and when the announcement will be made to others. Then write an email or letter stating briefly that you are resigning and when your last day will be. Stating why you are leaving is not necessary, but do include appreciation and thanks, even – or especially! – if the vibes are not gloriously warm.

How much notice should you give? Two weeks’ notice is standard; offering less is generally considered unprofessional. You might even want to offer more if leaving in two weeks would cause a hardship for the team. But don’t let it drag on and on. Your future is with the new company, so put that relationship first. Also consider your own needs for rest and recuperation. You may need to negotiate with both employers to get some time off in between. Enjoy some time off if you possibly can! Starting a new job takes a lot of energy.

Go out on a positive note. Past employers and co-workers are VIPs in your career network for many reasons – as sources of references, recommendations and information; for their influence on your reputation; and hopefully even as friends. So treat them well. Be willing to train your replacement. Create documentation for the next person in the role. Share all those tips nobody knows better than you.

Replacing Job Search with Ongoing Career Communications

Continue and nurture relationships with the people you’ve met in your search. Share your good news with everyone who helped you in any way. Maybe treat somebody to a meal to celebrate together and show appreciation for their support. Don’t be one of those people who only get in touch when they want something.

Update and improve your LinkedIn profile now; this is the very best time to do it. A year or two from now you may be looking at new opportunities, but spiffing up your profile at that point may arouse suspicion. Doing it now is safer, and will also help you look good to new colleagues who may be curious about you. Ask for recommendations from people at the job you’re leaving, especially your former boss. (Aren’t you glad you were nice on your way out?) Add your new job, either right before you start or, if you have any doubts about whether it will work out, after you’ve been on the job a little while. Don’t put it off too long.

File away notes for your next job search. If you’ve created various versions of your resume, gathered a lot of useful information about companies and job titles, and so on, you may want to refer to these items at some point in the future. Put them where you’ll be able to find them.

On Your New Job

If you’ve read this book, I’m guessing you work hard – and strategically – for what you want, and that you’re also smart about seeking out new knowledge and outside expertise to support your efforts. These qualities will serve you well in your new workplace.

Your first days and months on the job will be about forming relationships, learning, and making a point of achieving early wins to quickly establish yourself as a valuable team member. All of that is beyond the scope of this book, but much has been written by others about making a great first impression at your new job and ensuring that the crucial first few months will be evaluated positively.

May your new job and your career be a rich source of everything you want from it, whether that be exciting challenges and growth, making a difference, prosperity, security, camaraderie or appreciation. I wish you “all of the above”!

Want Job Interviews? Be Online!

Want to Be Interviewed? Be Seen Online!Did you know this? A third of employers are less likely to interview you if they can’t find information about you online.

In a Harris Poll survey of 2,000 hiring and human resources managers nationwide, across industries and company sizes, 35% expressed this view. A solid 52% stated that they use social networking sites to research job candidates.

The numbers may actually be higher now; this poll was taken in 2015.

These employers aren’t necessarily looking for negatives like compromising photos or negative comments about the boss. Most of them are looking for evidence that supports your qualifications: a professional persona that demonstrates good judgment and networking skills. And they’re looking for “social proof”: LinkedIn recommendations and other positive comments about you.

It’s time to get on LinkedIn at the very least, whether or not you’re looking for a job right now. A good profile takes time: to get it written, to develop a good-sized network of connections and to obtain those so-important recommendations. Build it before you need it.

If you’re concerned about privacy or identity theft, learn how to be online safely rather than shying away automatically. Here are just a few tips: Don’t include your high school, mention your pet by name, or – god forbid! – post your full birth date, since financial institutions often ask for these facts to confirm identities. You may want to post a more general “metro area” location name, rather than your specific city. Consider carefully before posting your email address or phone number. And of course, use a very strong password that you don’t use for anything else.

After LinkedIn, you might consider other options that might fit your interests, occupation and needs: maybe an online portfolio, professional blog or personal (but professional!) website. Consider professional networking platforms beyond LinkedIn.

As for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like, although these aren’t conceived as professional networking arenas, they can be useful if carefully curated to support your professional brand. If skillfully done (and that’s a big “if”), a blending of personal and professional interests on social media can help employers feel that they know and trust you.

And don’t be overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Start with one platform. For most people, LinkedIn is by far the most important place to be seen online. Create an excellent profile and gain the benefits of a professional online presence – attention from recruiters, job interviews, offers, and advancement of your career.

Do You Need a Personal Website?

Does Every Job Seeker Need a Personal Website?Online presence is crucial for job seekers, since recruiters routinely research and even source candidates through web searches. Social media platforms like LinkedIn are part of the equation. But do you need a personal website as well?

A slew of articles in recent years in publications like Business Insider, Money Magazine and Forbes have answered a resounding “yes.” But of course no one answer is right for every individual. So let’s think it through.

How far can you go with LinkedIn?

Many of the benefits of a website can be obtained with a great LinkedIn profile. Have you done everything you can to optimize this career marketing tool, both for the human eye and for search rankings? Don’t overlook optional sections like Projects or Awards, and the option to add media (photos, videos, documents or presentations) to make your profile engaging and search-ready.

And of course LinkedIn provides a blogging platform, Pulse. If you’re a good writer with something to say, blogging can demonstrate your professional expertise and communication skills. On Pulse you’ll have a built-in user base and traffic source for your posts, plus solid credibility with search engines – all of which would take time and effort to build if your blog is on a personal website.

A personal website, on the other hand, offers major advantages.

  • More space to showcase images and other content (projects, testimonials, etc.) in whatever format you like
  • No distractions in terms of ads, other people’s profiles, and so on
  • More control over how you appear in Google search results
  • Branding yourself as an up-to-date, tech-friendly professional
  • A contact form that makes it easy to reach you
  • Ownership; freedom from rules like LinkedIn’s user agreement

In balancing the pros and cons for your individual situation, consider your occupation and industry. How important is it for you to appear tech-friendly, media-savvy and skillful in marketing and/or selling something – like yourself, for example?

A personal website is more crucial for some than others, but most job seekers can benefit from having one. Done well, it’s a useful marketing tool that makes you stand out from the competition – an investment in getting a job and developing your career.

How to Get a Nonprofit Job with your Corporate Experience

How to Get a Nonprofit Job with your Corporate ExperienceSo you want to go from selling something to serving the greater good in a nonprofit career. How does your corporate experience translate to a nonprofit job?

Some occupations require no translation: administrative assistant, accountant, human relations manager. Others may seem less obviously transferable, like sales, marketing or business development skills. How are your skills relevant in the nonprofit sector?

Let’s start with sales and business development jobs in nonprofits.

Just now I did a search for jobs with the keyword “sales” on nonprofit job board Idealist.org, specifying “San Francisco Bay Area” as the location. I found 11 jobs with “Sales” in the title, along with four “Business Development” titles. Is that all? Nope. Think about a role in fund development.

Sales professionals are well suited to roles in this field, more commonly referred to simply as “development.” A development department will typically be involved in fundraising events and campaigns, memberships, prospect research, donor relations, and special programs such as a major gifts campaign, a capital campaign or a planned giving program.

People who can cultivate relationships and ask for money are in high demand in the nonprofit world. Your skills in selling the features of a product or service can definitely be transferred to selling the urgency and humanitarian value of a nonprofit’s services.

There are a wide range of titles in this area, such as Development Director, Development Assistant, Director of Individual Giving, and so on.

Marketing job opportunities are common in nonprofits, often with the word “Marketing” in the title.

You might think marketing and nonprofit don’t go together. Think again! A search like the one above turned up dozens of local openings, such as Digital Marketing Officer, Director of Marketing and Communications, and  Marketing Coordinator.

What about titles in human resources, engineering, IT, materials management, and so on?

In some cases they’re the same, but sometimes different. Get ready to “speak the language” of nonprofit: take a look at this handy list of nonprofit job titles in various categories.

Steps to take for a successful corporate-to-nonprofit transition:

  • Research the possibilities by setting up advanced searches on Idealist, Indeed, LinkedIn and/or LinkUp.com. Read lots of job postings, but don’t spend a lot of time applying to them just yet.
  • Create a nonprofit resume. Translate your corporate experience into the kind of language you’re seeing in the postings so nonprofit human resources departments can easily see the transferability of your skills.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile. This can be tricky if your job search is in stealth mode, but it is possible to get plenty of the right keywords and selling points into that profile without making your boss suspicious.
  • Prove your commitment to the nonprofit path and gain nonprofit experience through volunteering (preferably skills-based volunteering).
  • Improve your skills and make helpful contacts by taking nonprofit-related trainings and joining nonprofit professional associations. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, these include the Foundation Center and Development Executives Roundtable. Other communities have their own resources for current and “would-be” nonprofit professionals.
  • Network, do informational interviews, and build connections to increase your likelihood of being referred for a position. Something like 75% of all jobs are filled via networking rather than applying “cold” online, and that percentage increases when you’re making a big transition like a move from corporate to nonprofit.

Good luck with your transition to a rewarding nonprofit career!

 

7 Ways to Use LinkedIn Recommendations to Impress Employers

6 Ways to Use LinkedIn Recommendations to Impress EmployersCan LinkedIn recommendations help you get a better job?

Absolutely. These powerful online testimonials are often seen very early in the hiring process, when they can contribute to first impressions – and even influence the decision to bring you in for an interview.

Look at it this way: what carries more weight to a prospective employer – your opinion about yourself (as expressed in your profile, resume, etc.), or what your past managers and customers say about you?

If you don’t have recommendations, request some (and give some, while you’re at it!).

Here are six smart ways to use LinkedIn recommendations to enhance your online presence and credibility:

1. Quote from them in your resume or cover letter.

Use very short, glowing excerpts – maybe 1-3 lines each. Insert one quote in a summary section near the top and/or another at the end of the resume. Or include a few within the experience, skills or education sections. Don’t overdo it.

2. Refer to them in interviews.

Use them to add a memorable sound bite: “You may have noticed the LinkedIn recommendation from my boss saying that I’m a miracle worker with Excel.”

Or to back up your own claim: “I really care about my clients – in fact, just last month, my client Tom Smith said those very words about me on LinkedIn.”

3. Quote a brief excerpt in your LinkedIn Summary.

This not only makes the summary more powerful, it also encourages the reader to scroll down and read the rest of that recommendation, and the others too.

“I’m honored that VP of Marketing Brenda Brown calls me ‘an endless innovator and incredibly fun to work with’ (see “Recommendations” below).”

4. Use them to “prove” your key selling points.

Let’s say the top three things you want employers to notice are (1) your track record of measurable results, (2) your advanced degree, and (3) your exceptional interpersonal skills.

Selling points (1) and (2) are verifiable facts. Point (3), however, is hard to prove to someone who has never met you. Get someone to vouch for those interpersonal skills in a recommendation.

5. Use them to counteract a possible negative in your profile.

For example, if you’re currently unemployed or have a gap in your work history, a positive recommendation from the boss can reassure prospective employers that your departure wasn’t due to poor performance.

6. Go beyond “what you did” to “how well you did it.”

It’s easy to describe your job duties, but harder to show what was special about the way you did your job. People who have worked with you can vouch for that, right there online for all to see.

7. Make sure your awesome testimonials will have plenty of chances to be seen by the right people.

Optimize your profile to be found by recruiters who are looking for an excellent candidate like you!

Used effectively, LinkedIn recommendations can be a powerful tool to enhance your credibility and get a new job.