Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Notes from Career Building Workshop

Last week, YNPN San Diego was joined by Laura Gassner Otting from Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group at USD to talk about career advice in the nonprofit sector. Below you will find some great nuggets of information for you to use and share. Many thanks to Laura for her incredible time and dedication to the topic!

Starting the search for your career means being fearless. Share your dreams and fears. Ask yourself where you want to be in the next ten years. Here are some specific steps that Laura recommends:

Get a Full Toolbox

Focus on things you can do right now:
  • Recognize if you are at the right place at the right time
  • Fake it till you make it
  • Recognize your interests and skill set
  • Strategic reflection – don’t just take any job
  • Use your platform to pivot
  • How to translate your skill set
  • Put yourself where you want to be
  • Dream big!
  • What’s holding you back – recognize trigger points
Recognize the Eight Motivating Factors:
  • Skill acquisition/Development
  • Money
  • New challenges
  • Colleagues and community
  • Mission/Cause
  • Scope of impact
  • Leadership skills
  • Geography
Address in your cover letter any gaps in your experience or resume. If you can’t cover your gaps then get the experience. If you don’t have the academic experience you can build that experience in other places.

Get on a Board
Boards will provide you with scaffolding for your experience. It should be a mutually beneficial experience. Know what you are bringing to the table before you join; know the expectations. Join boards that are strategic for you. Build your skill set, grow your network, and develop a platform. If you offer certain skills ask for others in return. Boards consist of givers, influencers, and doers. Boards often look for young, charismatic leaders. Consider joining a committee of an org’s board before joining a board.

Get Mentored
For-profits have management tracks, etc. Young people move around a lot and there isn’t enough money to invest in individuals so seek out mentorship opportunities. Look outside of what you do or analogous to what you do. Find different mentors for different purposes. Be interesting. Force yourself to think like a businessperson. What do you want to make? What is your strategic plan for 5 years? Mentors can be excited about your whole life and who you are not just your profession. Find people who are doing what you want to do and ask them for other people that you should talk to.

Get Noticed
Decide that you are the expert. We all have a pulpit to work from with social media so use it. Think about your personal/professional brand. Use social media to make “Frolleagues = friend-colleagues”. Is your goal to be a “thought leader”? Use social media to get to your goals, position yourself professionally.

Get Head-hunted
If there is a search that is right for you and them, call the search firm. Don’t worry about being annoying, be persistent. Be prepared with your elevator speech for their voicemail. Explain why you are right for the position. Look for people who do searches in your field. Pass along information to the network that is relevant – mention that you are looking for a job. Do something for them and they will do something for you. Open up the conversation. Create a network and connection with people who are the hubs of information.

Leadership Skills that we look for: ( CompassPoint and the Meyer Foundation, 2006)
  • Leadership and influence: How do you influence people without monetary rewards. It’s a tough place to work in the nonprofit work. So how do you keep people energized about it?
  • Managing up, down, and sideways – we are made up of teams, not individuals trailblazers. Managing a board, the team, with stakeholders, with funders - do you know how to do this? Anyone within the sphere of influence.
  • Delegating with kindness and accountability – how are you measuring results, making sure you are getting results, asking partners and staff to be accountable?
  • Communications – know how to talk with all different kinds of people in the organization - everyone is motivated by different things
  • People who can manage lots of balls in the air - can you multitask?
  • Knowing how to get to you “yes” – how do you stalk a prospect? What to ask for and when you ask for it?
  • Managing dotted line relationships as well – make nice with friends, enemies, etc. How do you figure out how to create collaborations? Need to start with trust.
  • Delivering impressive results – need that actual numbers and results (scope, breadth, and depth). What wouldn’t have happened if you were there?
  • Long term view – npos move slower in change and need to have a longer term view
  • Have a distinct passion – passion will drive fundraising.
  • Learn how to spin your skills and passion - be the spin doctor

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