Over the years in my nonprofit executive recruitment work, several themes have emerged in answer to the question “What do Nonprofit Employers Really Want?” Regardless of the senior level executive position I have helped to fill, I have found that most nonprofit employers want to meet candidates who can demonstrate:
- Good Track Record. Your resume should highlight important accomplishments and successes. These can include professional achievements, awards, personal achievements and/or recognition.
- Stability. Employers want to see candidates with “staying power”. A resume that shows job changes every year or two will require some extra work (for example, you might want to include a strong cover letter to explain the career moves)
- Commitment to the Organization’s Mission. Your interest in the organization’s mission should be clearly indicated in your cover letter (especially if it is not clear from your resume’s career history).
- Cultural/Institutional Fit. Every organization has a “culture” (ie, consensus driven culture, hierarchal culture, small “family” culture, etc). Being able to work within an organization’s particular cultural framework is often overlooked by both the organization and the prospective employee. But for any senior nonprofit executive, being able to work well within a particular culture is key to success. This is a “soft skill” that may not reveal itself on paper (resume or cover letter), but will likely become clear during the interview process.
“What Do Nonprofit Employees Want?” I strongly encourage you to answer this question for yourself. What size organization will you be most successful in? What organizational missions are you most passionate about? What story does your resume tell about you with regard to stability and growth in your career? What have been your successes (professional or volunteer)?
Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about ways in which I can help you direct your nonprofit career search, and optimize your chances for finding the right job match for you! I am offering a free customized search list, with Career Advising and Resume Renovation services.