No, I’m not talking about what doctors sometimes recommend for a slow-growing cancer, although there are days when the job search feels a lot like that. I’m referring to the fact that it can take a long time for the right opportunity to appear (or reappear, like one of those slow growths).
Within the past few weeks, three positions have opened up at three different non-profit organizations that I’ve been interested in and at which I’ve applied in the past. One is a large organization for which I’ve volunteered for a long time. The others were non-profits I became aware of through my job search.
First time around, I got no interviews at any of the three. Since then, I’ve done some networking, which has resulted in one interview so far. For the other two, I’m confident my resume will at least be reviewed, since I’ve gotten to know people inside the organization in similar roles and learned more about the skills and experience that are deemed most important. And for good measure, one of those resumes will probably go through the CEO, since I know somebody who knows her. Sometimes you have to pull out the big guns, but it’s important to keep your powder dry for when you really need it, too.
The interview I did get might also have had something to do with the fact that I’ve been volunteering with an organization with a similar mission, and recently completed a relevant certificate program, paid for by the organization I’ve been volunteering with.
A similar situation occurred with a for-profit role, too. I had been phone screened, but was told I wasn’t a great match since I didn’t have enough experience in a certain area. The interviewer was great –she said she was impressed with my experience in other areas, and gave me good, honest feedback. She recently contacted me, asking if I was still looking, and noted there was another role I might be a good match for. That trail has since gone cold, so perhaps her hiring colleague had other things in mind, but it is still nice to know that someone thinks I’m qualified for something!
The moral of the story is to identify organizations you are interested in, and make a point to get to know people there, even if they don’t have an immediate opening, or if you’ve been rejected. Find out what skills they are looking for, and tailor your resume accordingly, or develop them if you don’t have them. If they are a non-profit, consider volunteering for them or a similar organization. And of course don’t burn any bridges. Ever. You never know who might be helpful in the future.
This can be a long and difficult process, but it can bear results. I guess that’s why they call it networking.
A side note to non-profit HR departments: it’s not good PR to diss your volunteers. The organization where I’ve volunteered for many years rejected me last time with a form email that bordered on rude, telling me that I wasn’t qualified. They should have incorporated questions about volunteer service with them into their employment application, so that volunteers can at least receive a kind rejection that acknowledges their volunteer service even if they are not a good fit for the job. Last time around, I’m not sure a real person even read my resume, since their online app is long and convoluted. That’s part of the reason I enlisted the big guns this time.
Enough with the military metaphors for now, although the husband is dragging us to Gettysburg soon, so I’m sure I’ll have an endless supply after that.