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Bulletproof Your Resume: Four Mistakes Nonprofit Execs Make and How to Fix Them

June 25, 2014

Nonprofit_resume_mistakesCrafting a compelling resume tends to get more difficult the further along you are in your career. There's a much larger body of work to consider and frame once you've reached the executive level, and for most executives finding the time to build a high-impact resume isn’t easy. But it’s time well spent, since your resume is still an important way to communicate your unique value proposition and helps prospective employers and others get a quick sense of your personal brand.

Below are four mistakes nonprofit executives often make with their resumes, and how to fix them.

1. Leading with an objective statement or random assortment of characteristics and adjectives.The real estate at the top of your resume is critical. This is your first and best chance to demonstrate your value proposition to a prospective employer. If you don't hook them here, most readers will lose interest before they get to the middle of the page. The old standby objective statement (e.g., "Seasoned manager seeking leadership opportunity in mission-driven social service organization") doesn't give the reader anything other than a vague picture of the kind of job you are looking for — and frankly, she doesn't care about that. Prospective hiring managers, recruiters, and HR executives need and want to know what you can offer them.

The fix: Develop a powerful summary that outlines your career achievements and value. Make it easy to read, use bullets, and be sure it demonstrates your skills in a way that convinces the hiring manager you are worth more than thirty seconds of his or her time. Focus on the quantifiable results of your projects and roles, as well as what you have to offer a potential employer. For example:

  • Managed department of 60 with $35M budget;
  • Oversaw organization-wide data migration project;
  • Secured $19M in funding.

2. Missing the mark on format and length. As an executive recruiter, I see hundreds of resumes every week, and the two most common mistakes I see are resumes that are too long and/or resumes that have overly fussy formatting.

The fix: As a seasoned executive, you have much more experience than you could possibly fit onto a single page. That doesn't mean, however, that you should take six pages to spell it all out; keep it to no more than two to three pages and indicate that you're happy to fill in your additional experience upon request.

When it comes to formatting, simplicity and readability should be your guiding principles. Stick to a maximum of two fonts, and don't over-engineer. Also, don't forget that many people, especially those with whom you'll be networking, will be looking at your resume on a mobile device, so be sure to look at the finished product on a smartphone and tablet before you circulate it.

Finally, don't forget about the basics: if you don't have the time to proofread your resume for typos and grammatical errors, find someone who does.

Continue reading »

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (March 2014)

April 01, 2014

March was another busy month here at PhilanTopic, as readers responded enthusiastically to Laura Callanan's four-part series on social sector leadership, our usual weekend offerings (including a great infographic about millennial myths), and new posts by Gabriel Kasper/Justin Marcoux, Dr. Anand Parekh, and others.

It looks like spring has finally sprung, and we've got lots of great content planned for the month ahead, so don't be a stranger. In the meantime, here's a chance to catch up on some of the things you may have missed....

What have you read/watched/listened to over the last month that made you think, surprised you, or caused you to scratch your head? Share your finds in the comments section below....

Nelson Mandela, July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013

December 06, 2013

PND joins with millions of people around the globe in paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, a towering figure of the twentieth century. Thanks in part to his heroic example, our is a more peaceful and just world. May he always live in our collective memory.

Mandela_tribute

The Nelson Mandela foundation is collecting messages of condolence from the global community. To send a message, visit www.nelsonmandela.org/.

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (November 2013)

December 01, 2013

Hope you all had a fun and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. With 2013 rapidly coming to a close, it's time to look back at the most popular posts on PhilanTopic during the month of November:

What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Share your favorites in the comments section below....

Boston Foundation Statement on Marathon Attack

April 16, 2013

The Boston Foundation issued the following statement this morning in reaction to the attack on the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon:

Yesterday at 2: 50 p.m., our community was torn apart by an act of unspeakable cowardice and evil. Today, we join our neighbors, our community, and friends across the nation and the world not only in grief, but in our determination to overcome this heinous crime. All of us at the Boston Foundation wish to express our sympathies and support to all those directly affected by the attack, and pledge to provide short- and long-term support to the community as we all seek to recover and heal.

We continue to be in touch with state and local officials as well as other members of the nonprofit and philanthropic community, as we develop our immediate and longer-term efforts to support our community in this time of need.

Throughout its history, the people of the City of Boston have demonstrated their resilience and strength in times of crisis -- and we have seen those acts of courage and heroism already in the past day. Boston is our home, and for nearly 100 years we have been honored to play a role in strengthening and supporting this community. Together, we can all take comfort in the knowledge that we can and will work together as a community to lift up the victims of this tragedy, ease their suffering and support each other in this challenging time.

The foundation is currently gathering information on scheduled events for the public in tribute to those harmed by the attack and is posting those on its Web site, tbf.org. It will issue more statements on its plans as they are finalized.

Weekend Link Roundup (December 1-2, 2012)

December 02, 2012

Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications

On the Big Duck blog, Jenna Silverman shares some social media tips for maximizing exposure for an article, blog post, newsletter feature, or report:

  1. Don't be afraid to state your conclusion right away;
  2. Use jargon-free and audience-centric language; and
  3. Use include images if it's posted to Facebook, and hashtags if shared via Twitter.

"Just remember," adds Silverman, "that your followers on Twitter are expecting something different from the people that like you on Facebook. Facebook users don't want to see hashtags and your Twitter followers don't want you to waste space with full URLs. Instead of auto-feeding those updates across all platforms, write new messages for each one. You'll see a difference."

Giving

Last week saw the debut of Giving Tuesday, a national movement to boost support for nonprofit organizations at the start of the annual holiday season. Despite all the hoopla surrounding the event, not everyone was a convert. Writing on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Timothy Ogden, managing director of the Financial Access Initiative at New York University and executive partner at Sona Partners, said he wasn't convinced the campaign would "materially affect giving in any positive way." The United States, writes Ogden,

has a deserved reputation for generosity when it comes to charity. According to GivingUSA, total annual giving now tops $300 billion. What many don't realize, given that the GivingUSA numbers change each year (usually in a positive direction), is how static the giving behavior of Americans is. Americans on average give about 2 percent of their income. When they earn more, they give more. When they earn less, they cut back. Over the last 10 years the percentage of national income given away (according to GivingUSA's totals) has varied from 2.1 to 2.2 percent. The only thing that has changed that percentage in the last 40 years, according to the Minneapolis Fed, is a tax law change that led to many wealthy people starting foundations at the end of 1986....

Ogden goes on to say that "while Giving Tuesday may make Americans' giving more visible, there's no reason to believe...it will affect how much they give." More likely, he writes, is that it will "shift more giving to the week of Thanksgiving from other times of year." We're not sure whether that's a good or bad thing. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Continue reading »

[Infographic] Nonprofit Strategic Restructuring

August 11, 2012

How are funders supporting strategic collaboration, and how are nonprofits engaging in these kinds of partnerships with each other?

To answer those questions, our colleagues in the Foundation Center's field offices turned to the center's Nonprofit Collaboration Database to find nonprofit organization from across the country who could tell them about their experiences. They eventually contacted ten and asked them questions like:

  • Why were you collaborating?
  • What are the challenges to effective collaboration?
  • How are foundations supporting your collaboration?
  • How do you wish they would have supported you?

Then, in partnership with La Piana Consulting and the Tides Center, the center convened ten funders in a daylong session in San Francisco to talk about the way nonprofits and foundations are thinking about collaboration generally and strategic restructuring more specifically.

Based on those two sources of knowledge, our colleagues then created the infographic below for the Alliance for Nonprofit Management 2012 conference (hashtag: #anm12). Enjoy!

(Click for larger image)

Infographic_strategic_restructuring

For more information about collaboration and strategic restructuring, b sure to check out these resources:

[Infographic] 'America's Nonprofit Sector'

August 04, 2012

Nice infographic from the folks at the Center for Civil Studies at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies based on the new, fully revised third edition of America's Nonprofit Sector: A Primer (Foundation Center), by Lester R. Salamon.

Americas-NPO-Sector

To order America's Nonprofit Sector, click here.

Weekend Link Roundup (July 28-29, 2012)

July 29, 2012

2012_OlympicsOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

"If no one can understand us, if we can't even understand ourselves, how are we going to help communities become more informed and engaged?" asks the Knight Foundation's Eric Newton on the Knight blog. What's more, writing more readable press releases doesn't mean issues need to be dumbed down, says Newton. "You have to be smart to convey difficult subjects in clear, understandable prose. If you can do it, your work will be more effective...."

Fundraising

The Fundraising Detective shares some lessons about what the Olympics can teach nonprofits about volunteering, marketing, and fundraising, including how to give volunteers recognition, how to pass the torch, and how to do more than you ever thought possible.

Philanthropy

On the Philanthropy UK blog, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors CEO Melissa Berman argues that distinctions "between 'mainstream/traditional' (i.e., white) philanthropy and 'other' philanthropy, that is, the kind of giving practiced by racial, ethnic and tribal communities," are steadily giving way to a new reality, as African-American, Arab- and Asian-American, Latino, and Native American populations become "an increasingly potent force in American philanthropy." Berman then highlights a few observations and themes to buttress her argument:

  • The philanthropic sector faces increasing scrutiny, both from government and activist groups, to demonstrate its responsiveness and accountability to racial and ethnic groups. A legislative proposal in California that would have mandated certain race-based benchmarks and grantmaking ratios, for example, was only narrowly defeated after foundations in the state voluntarily agreed to do more. If the field does not do a better job of addressing these complex issues on its own, writes Berman, it risks being forced to do so by others.
  • The growth of philanthropy in communities of color has paralleled major social movements driven by and affecting those communities. The civil rights movement of the 1960s, for example, was accompanied by a proliferation of African American funds; the Native Peoples movement of the 1970s led to new tribal giving structures; the women's and LGBTQ movements had a similar effect. Indeed, says Berman, one could make the case that any important social agenda must be accompanied by philanthropic activity if it hopes to get traction.
  • There will most certainly be a greater democratization of philanthropy as a result of the growth of giving vehicles formed by donors from various racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Communities of color increasingly command the resources and have the capacity to do their own giving -- i.e., philanthropy is becoming something everyone can (and does) do.
  • As a result, philanthropy is emerging as a critical expression of a community's own self-determination. We are finally realizing that solutions, as well as the resources to implement them, are to be found within communities themselves.

Professional Development

Rosetta Thurman -- she of the many hats, including nonprofit career coach -- has some advice for young nonprofit professionals wondering whether they are on the right career path.

Social Media

In an era of niche social networks, Geoff Livingston, author of Welcome to the Fifth Estate: How to Create and Sustain a Winning Social Media Strategy, has some advice about how and which social networking sites to integrate into your life "for professional success and personal enjoyment."

Strategy

The term "resilience" is popping up everywhere these days, writes Lucy Bernholz on her Philanthropy 2173 blog. But with all the change happening in the world and the uncertainty that comes with it, focusing on adaptability and being able to bounce back "are the keys to evolution and survival."

In a post on his blog, digital marketing and communications guru Seth Godin cuts right to the chase: "strategy matters more than ever" -- and not "changing your strategy merely because you're used to the one you have now is a lousy strategy."

Transparency

Last but not least, the Packard Foundation is using the blog of visiting scholar Beth Kanter to solicit feedback on its Organizational Effectiveness program. In fact, the foundation has been conducting an extensive review of its OE strategy for some months now and has been sharing information about the process and some of the feedback it has received at a dedicate Web site. Now it is asking for comments on a draft "that outlines key elements of our refreshed strategy." For more information and to share your thoughts/concerns, visit the OE strategy refresh planning site.

That's it for this week. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org.

-- The Editors

Infographic: What is GrantSpace?

July 16, 2012

(This post originally appeared on the Foundation Center's Philanthropy Front and Center - Cleveland blog.)

Just how well do you know GrantSpace, the Foundation Center's online learning community for nonprofits? Did you know, for instance, that over 100,000 people visit per month, from over 200 countries? But don't let the numbers alone do the talking. Check out our new infographic to get the full perspective on what you can do at GrantSpace.

(Click the image to view in full size)

Infographic-grantspace-FINAL

[Infographic] Understanding Social Enterprise

June 23, 2012

For a nice overview of the social enterprise universe, check out this infographic from the folks at GOOD and FedEx (h/t Jed Emerson/@BlendedValue).

 

GOOD_socent_transparency

Yearly U.S. Charity Checkup

June 16, 2012

In conjunction with the recent release of the 2012 Metro Market Survey, our friends at Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator, have created their first infographic.

 

Charity Navigator Metro Market Infographic

 

Pretty cool...

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (November 2011)

December 01, 2011

After a very busy October, November -- Thanksgiving and all -- turned out to be another busy month at PhilanTopic. In descending order, here are the five most popular posts for the month.

What were you reading/watching/listening to last month?

OWS By the Numbers

November 10, 2011

Another great infographic. Patience -- it's a big file....

(Click on graphic for complete uncropped image)


OWSinfoCropped
(H/t Visual Economics via the Big Picture blog.)

Most Popular Posts (October 2011)

November 01, 2011

After a good September, October was the third busiest month at PhilanTopic since we started the blog in the fall of 2007. What were folks reading? Here's a short list of the most popular posts for the month.

What's the best thing you read/watched/heard in October?

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Quote of the Week

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    Ashley Merryman, author, Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children

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