I am currently looking for a new job – something not for the faint of heart. I intend to find a nonprofit executive leadership position – a special job what will be the awesome “capstone” position of my nonprofit, service-oriented career. A place to work that capitalizes on my “skills, experience and entrepreneurial spirit,” as my resume says. A place where I can make a Can Do kind of difference.
NOTE I have edited this blog post because, as life tends to happen, the situation changed a bit within 24 hours of hitting “publish.” The feedback I have received from several sources has been extremely eye-opening and reflected in the changes I have made.
The process entails constantly being “be out there” in a way that invites people to judge me, not just for my experience and qualifications, but against a very competitive field of other applicants, some of whom are just as qualified as I am. I have started to refocus and think through new ways I can distinguish myself my competition for any given position. It is a two-edged sword.
I keep being reminded that I am no spring chicken. Rather, I say “I am a seasoned nonprofit professional,” which means I have extensive experience, perspective and depth – and gray hair! Many employers want someone younger and probably cheaper, but with all of those other qualities, too. I am tempted to put a P.S. at the bottom of my cover letters that says “remember, you get what you pay for!” But, I don’t.
Because I have been very public about having had some significant health issues, my guess is that some employers get into the “what if’s” and say, “she could get sick again.” So, perhaps I could add a P.P.S. on the cover letter that reads: “So could any of the people that you hire. Part of what I have learned it to value my health and I take better care of myself better than the vast majority of the world.” Alas, again, I don’t.
Then, there is the silence…oh, the silence. I actually have a category on my job search spreadsheet labeled Radio Silence. When I write a (brilliant!) cover letter and submit my resume for positions and it never even gets an email acknowledgement of the application, let alone an invitation to the dance. Hey, they could at least use “auto-reply”! Some postings so say that only those deemed worthy will be contacted, but still…
The gatekeepers for many of the senior positions in the nonprofit sector are the executive career consultants and head hunters. They can be very supportive and helpful – or not! One was very gracious and thoughtful in her recent note that dismissed me from the search after the first round. Another was very generous in her feedback on why “one got away!” and gave me great input on what needs tweaking on my resume.
On the other side of the coin, one “candidate advocate” at a professional search firm emailed me to say I had been moved forward in an interview process (I was ecstatic!) before her boss decided that I was not being moved forward. But no one told me until I texted the boss 10 days later saying “I am confused.” No apologies, just a very defensive response that I had not been moved forward, and how there are many moving pieces in the organic process of making “these high level hires.” (I was the opposite of ecstatic.)
One of my challenges is to remember that while it feels this way, my job hunt not just about me! Even though the feedback from that head hunter was not delivered in a very professional way, it taught me a valuable lesson that keeps getting reinforced the more conversations I have. The job search process is competitive, involves many moving parts, and each person involved brings his or her own perception of need and qualifications to the table. Each application gives me a new opportunity to put my best foot forward. How cool is that?
Now, I need to get back to writing that “cover letter that will change my life…” It is what I Can Do!