interview-bdrIf you have gone in any sequential manner through this site or have come here directly after finding out we exist, you hopefully will have identified a number of specific employers, and, if not that, specific Common Good sectors that you would like to start to approach in your job search.  If you are still in an exploratory mindset and are not ready to approach organizations directly for a volunteer, internship, part-time, full-time, consulting, or other type of relationship, the information in this section will still have some relevance for you because we will be talking about how to get closer to organizations in which you are interested.  For example, asking a friend or loved one about whom they recommend that you talk to about your employer of interest, could be because either (a) you know you want to work there or (b) you want to find out more about that organization for any number of reasons.

Approaching

The amount of information available about how to effectively approach an organization of interest is staggering.  And as I mentioned in Welcome: An Introduction to this Site, focus is critical to career management and job-search success.

So my approach to this section is not going to be my attempt to create brilliant new ways to get hired.  All the information on how to do that is available.  What I am going to do is provide some framing thoughts about how to approach organizations successfully, and then point you to extremely rich sources for all the particulars you will need to create your successful Common Good job-search campaign.  You have been introduced to them previously, so I hope in some way this part of the process will be like reconnecting with a trusted friend.

Eight Keys to Successfully Approaching Employers

1. Be brutally honest with yourself about what you bring to the process.
2. Identify and then reach out to members of your Job-Search Brain Trust
3. Create a list with contact information of all those people who would return your call or email or text or tweet or whatever.
4. Create a strong LinkedIn profile.
5. Create a strong online and offline resume.
6. Work to leverage the strengths outlined in #1 and lessen the likelihood that the weaknesses identified in #1 will in fact derail you.
7. Identify your existing or create your current resilience strategy.
8. Create a proactive and reactive job-search campaign by immersing yourself in the information available at job-hunt.org and commongoodcareers.org. Suggestions on how to do that follow.

Interviewing

Preparation is critical to interview success.  Most articles you read on interviewing will stress that.  Our friends at job-hunt.org have excellent articles on all aspects of the interview process.  You will have seen them as you went through the links I suggested above.

There is another level of preparation necessary, however, when interviewing in Common Good organizations or for Common Good types of jobs.  This involves having a thorough understanding of the difference between Common Good employers and employment versus for-profit or other employers.  Commongoodcareers.org (no connection to this Common Good site) has a number of articles that provide that thorough understanding.  You will find these in their Knowledge Center and include:

  • Debunking Myths of Nonprofit Jobs
  • Finding Your Niche in the Social Sector
  • In Demand Skills in the Social Sector
  • How to Market Yourself to Nonprofits
  • Breaking into the Nonprofit Sector: A Guide for Recent Graduates
  • Act II: Pursuing a Nonprofit Career in the Second Half of Life
  • Nonprofit Salaries: What Should I Earn?
  • Meeting the Nonprofit: Ten Interviewing Questions

Another resource for finding out about how Common Good employers hire can be located at www.nonprofithr.com.  There are many white papers and surveys available that provide insights into how nonprofits do their hiring.  The 2013 white paper, Using Social Media as an Effective Recruitment Tool for Nonprofits, states that “More candidates are using social media as part of their job-seeking strategy, and organizations are using even more varied social networking resources to recruit.  Nonprofits tend to be slower to utilize technology-based solutions, and to provide dedicated resources to the human resources function.”  This is consistent with a point made in their 2011 Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey:  “It’s still who you know when it comes to nonprofit recruitment.  Nonprofits primarily use in person networking and newspapers to recruit job candidates.  This is surprising considering the rapid growth and affordability of social networking tools over the past few years.”

Finally, there is a more subjective and personal aspect of Common Good interviews because of the often personal nature of the mission, or population served, or particular cause, or set of values—which is why a Common Good organization has an emotional connection to the work that is done there.  You will not often find this in the for-profit sectors.  It is for that reason that you need to be particularly well- prepared to talk about yourself and what your values are and what you stand for and why you are really talking with a particular Common Good employer.  Many of the questions I asked in the Why You and Why the Common Good? section of this site will help you prepare for questions you will be asked during an interview regarding why you are interested in the Common Good.