#npsquadgoals Challenge #5: Jumpstart Your Next Job Search



Nonprofit Squad Goals is a regular series of challenges to help you tackle your professional development goals in small, bite-sized pieces throughout the year. We’ll offer advice and give you a platform to network with other young nonprofit professionals who have committed to making 2016 the best year yet for their careers. You can join the challenge and share your journey by using the hashtag #npsquadgoals.

In our 2015 Young Nonprofit Professional survey, an overwhelming 86% of you told us you plan to stay in the nonprofit sector long term. Luckily, Boston is home to a variety of incredible organizations looking for bright, talented young professionals — just like you! But how can you attract your next employer’s attention, whether you’re in the midst of a serious job hunt, or just starting to think about future options? We dare you to take action by joining our fifth challenge of the year: Jumpstart Your Next Job Search!

Job search pros will tell you the best way to find a job has a lot to do with being proactive and making sure you’re keeping your  resources up-to-date and informed every step of the way. That LinkedIn profile that’s been created but gathering dust ever since? It won’t do you any good without managing your page and reaching out to your virtual network, starting before you’re ready for your next opportunity all the way through landing your next position. Ditto for past references, friends and acquaintances in your network.

By the end of October, challenge yourself to:

  1. Make a list of dream organizations and dream positions.
  2. Check in with a former supervisor or colleague to share career updates.
  3. Update one personal job search tool.
  4. Share your victories with us by using the #npsquadgoals hashtag!

Need help getting started on your challenge? Here are some resources:

Make a list of dream organizations and dream positions

Identifying a dream position or organization can be an excellent way to get motivated for a hunt and identify what additional skills or connections you need to land the perfect opportunity. Whether you’re ready to leave your current job tomorrow or you’re simply curious about how you might be able to advance in the future, here are some different ways to create a list of target organizations and positions:

  • Ask friends, families, colleagues, and other people in your network to help you identify sources for informational interviews.
  • Use social media as a way to evaluate and test some potentially attractive organizations. Find your “dream organizations” and connect with them on social media (especially LinkedIn) as a way to start getting a better sense of organizational culture or possible fit to determine whether this really is a “dream” place or not. Keeping an eye on social media, as well as setting up job alerts for the companies you’ve listed, is also a good way to keep an eye out for potential future openings. It also doesn’t hurt to look for mutual connections on sites like LinkedIn you can flag as possible resources for a current or future search.
  • Read through organization reviews on sites like Glassdoor to evaluate cultural fit and identify skills to develop tod give you a leg up in future interviews.

Check in with a former supervisor or colleague to share career updates.

You know you would be a perfect fit for that position you just identified as a dream job or are prepping to interview for...but how will a potential future employer know that? A strong network of people who know you well and can alert you to openings, share advice, help you prep application materials and vouch for you is always a good thing to have, regardless of where you are in a job search or exploration process. Consider strengthening your “reference” network by:

  • Identifying your network of career champions, those folks who know your work and can advocate for you. Besides bosses and supervisors, include co-workers, people you know from activities like volunteering or professional organizations, and other less traditional sources in your network who can put in a good word on your behalf, share resources, recommendations, and other search tips!
  • Checking in virtually. Try reaching out via LinkedIn or over email. Express genuine interest in what they’re up to, and let them know anything relevant about your situation or search at the same time.
  • Paying a visit in person. If you’re checking in with someone you had a closer relationship with, schedule time to visit the office, or meet outside of work hours over coffee or at a networking event (YNPN Boston always has something great in the works, if you’re stuck for ideas!).

Update one personal job search tool.

Resumes, cover letters, your social media presence — these can all be great ways to showcase your personality and skills to an employer. They can also be a pain if you put off updating everything until you actually need use them in a job search. By the end of the month, update one of the following:

  • Review and update your resume to reflect any new trainings, positions, certifications, volunteer opportunities, or other new professional development activities you’ve participated in.
  • Have someone you trust review your resume or cover letters and provide feedback. To make sure feedback is as helpful as possible, give them any additional context or specific items to look for when reviewing. It’s a lot easier to ask for and apply feedback before applying to new positions rather than strike out and ask for help after the fact.
  • Triple check your social media reflects your best young professional self — or lock things down. Again, it’s much easier to be proactive and clean up your social media presence or tweak privacy settings before even starting to think about searching for your next opportunity, or if you’re getting close to sending out resumes rather than to leave something up or in the public eye by accident and regret it later. It’s always a good idea to make sure all of the essentials are front and center on your LinkedIn page or other relevant sites to be as attractive as possible for any future employers or opportunities. Essentials can also include any “personal branding” that might help you in a search, such as publishing professional blog entries, tweeting or sharing links to articles or other industry resources, or linking to a professional portfolio or website showcasing your work, if relevant.

Take the #npsquadgoals challenge!

Comment on this blog post or share a photo on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram using the #npsquadgoals hashtag:

  • Post to our Facebook or tweet us one resource you’ve found helpful in making your list of dream organizations or position. Our favorite? The YNPN Boston listserv, of course! Make sure to join to keep up with tons of Boston nonprofits, including many job openings and network-building resources that are shared each week.
  • Take a “victory selfie” after meeting with someone to share career updates and learn what they’re up to. Share it with us so we can celebrate your success!
  • Leave a comment below sharing your best resume or cover letter tip to pay it forward!

We’ve loved seeing you tackle the #npsquadgoals challenges so far and can’t wait to cheer you on for this one!

Sydney Nolan is a Communications and Marketing Ambassador for YNPN Boston. In addition to her current role as an account coordinator for a Boston-based marketing agency, Sydney Nolan has held a variety of communications roles at nonprofits in Boston and in her native city of Minneapolis, MN. She volunteers her time assisting with social media for Camp Casco, a nonprofit that organizes an annual free summer camp for children affected by pediatric cancer.

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