Question: What are some easy ways to make my résumé more appealing to recruiters and hiring managers?
Recruiters and hiring managers have the same two goals when screening résumés: (1) find the best candidates and (2) find them as fast as possible. As you can imagine, it’s the speed factor that makes things tricky. According to TheLadders, recruiters spend about six seconds on your résumé before deciding whether you will be a candidate.
So how are you supposed to stand out in six seconds (or draw recruiters in so they take a deeper look)?
Here are six effective ways to help you get a call back:
1.Start with your experience and make sure it’s on page 1!
Don’t put any throat-clearing clutter on the first page. In the six-second study, recruiters spent the most time looking at applicants’ current titles, current companies, and current start and end dates. Keep this information easy to find by showcasing it high up on page one! This placement makes sure none of those six seconds is wasted and it earns you some recruiter appreciation.
2.Keep first things first, second thing second, and so on to the end.
Resist the temptation to depart from chronological order. Résumés may look like a list, but recruiters look for a narrative—and if the narrative’s chapters seem to be missing or are out of order, they’ll stop reading. Make the chronology easy to see by pulling the dates for each position over to align with the right margin. If you have a lot of short-term positions because you’re a consultant or contractor, make sure that’s clear. And if the resulting chronology creates gaps, briefly explain them; leaving the chapter out of the story will only call attention to it.
3.Use bullet points.
- Why? People read bullet points faster and they are less likely to overwhelm the recruiter. We love bullet points so you should too!
- Don’t turn the bullets back into paragraphs. Be concise and focus on achievements.
- You can start each position with a short paragraph about your general role and then use bullet points to highlight your achievements. Use more of them for recent and/or relevant experience.
- Don’t waste bullet points on the obvious. “Collaborated with co-workers and staff to accomplish long-term goals established by the CEO” is just a long way of saying “I had a job.” Say what you actually got done.
We recruiters love numbers. Why? Because our clients – hiring managers, CEOs, Directors, etc. - love numbers. We want to know how much money you raised, how many staff you supervise, and how you were able to grow visibility by 214% in just eight months! Numbers are easy to read and make us want to keep reading after those six seconds are over. Focus on numbers that show us how you helped an organization do better than it was doing before you came along.
5.Don’t chop off your degree.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working or how many jobs you’ve had: we still need to know where you went to school, what degree you earned, and when. Don’t ever drop the education section from your résumé.
6.And don’t forget your email address, either!
The most frustrating thing for recruiters is to find a great candidate who has no contact information listed on their résumé. The amount of effort required to find this person is only worth it if they are exceptional. More often, however, the resume will get tossed to the “no” pile, because “if you don’t have the sense to put your contact information on your resume, maybe you don’t have good sense at all .” Yes, it may seem harsh, but it’s a reality. We recommend that you put your email address and phone number under your name in a reasonable size (11-14 point font).
Is there a place for information technology in emerging markets?
CEO says yes and proves it
By: Development Resources, inc.
Rikin Gandhi, CEO of Digital Green, is transforming the way technology advances global development efforts in India, Africa, and beyond. At only 33 years old, Rikin is revolutionizing the way technology is used in remote parts of the world in an effort to improve human well-being. We recently checked in with Rikin to learn more about his organization, Digital Green, his path to success, and his ambitions for the future.
What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?
At some point between the ages of 3 and 6, I decided that I wanted to be an astronaut and I carried that forward for a long time. I was actually about to join the U.S. Air Force before moving to India in 2006. I was all set to join but a new venture some friends were working on called me to India and I didn’t want to pass it up.
What was your first full-time job?
I was a software engineer at Oracle in California working on search technology. I had a few patents published in the area of linguistics.
Was Digital Green your first entrepreneurial venture?
Just before getting started on Digital Green, I came out to India to work on a bio-diesel venture with some friends. Unfortunately, it was apparent that the venture wasn’t going to work out. The government of India was still heavily subsidizing oil and it wasn’t a viable business model. However, this is what got me interested in farming communities in India. I observed that a very small number of farmers were actually doing well and helping their families come out of poverty. It made me want to explore why this happened in the first place and whether it was possible to help more farmers and their families improve their circumstances.
Where did the idea for Digital Green come from?
I was in Bangalore when the bio-diesel venture fizzled out so I joined Microsoft Research in India working with a group called “Technology for Emerging Markets." It was an innovative but also academic place where we wanted to explore the question:Is there a role for technology in the developing world, especially as it relates to the agriculture development?
Originally it was just a research question, not an entrepreneurial venture. The project spanned roughly 2 years including 6 months of immersion with an NGO working in communities that were using technology and others that were not. During this time, we tested the use of video, MP3 players, and other types of technology, as well as observed traditional training approaches to understand farmer receptivity to different methods. This was followed by 15 months of controlled testing for a new, video-based approach to training farmers on agricultural techniques that could boost their productivity and access to markets. Where traditional extension can cost roughly $33 per farmer, the video-based approach developed by Digital Green gets that down to $3 per farmer.
So how did the spinoff from Microsoft Research occur?
Normally you have two choices: develop a commercially viable product from a project, which was not applicable in our case; or move on to the next thing. Well, we chose door number three. After seeking a lot of counsel, we became the first nonprofit spinoff of Microsoft Research.
Tell me about that initial spinoff phase. How did you gain support?
We were very fortunate with timing. Bill Gates was just moving out of his full-time role leading Microsoft to focus more time on the Foundation. We shared our work with him and gained a generous bridge grant that allowed us to test this approach in different environments and we expanded into four regions in India. From there, we gained support from the government of India, which had started the National Rural Livelihood Mission focused on getting 70 million people out of poverty. Digital Green has also received significant support from USAID, DFID, Google, and the Ford Foundation, among others. We have also expanded into new geographies including Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, and Afghanistan.
How was the transition from an entrepreneurial venture to the enterprise that Digital Green is today?
The initial team of 15 came together pretty quickly and we were distributed amongst partner offices with different NGOs across India. This was useful at first because it gave us a community-level perspective and taught us how to carry out work on the field. After a year, we decided to centralize efforts because we felt like Digital Green didn’t have a cohesive identity being spread around plus it gave our partner NGOs more ownership. During this time, we developed specialization internally, instituted better processes and procedures, and established quality control mechanisms. We continue to keep these topics ‘open’ so that we are constantly improving as an organization.
Has Digital Green changed from your initial notion of what it would be?
Yes and no. Fundamentally, it is very similar to what we set out to do at Microsoft Research, which was helping local people produce videos, share them with their communities, and evaluate the impact of the program. Technology changes quickly so we have gone from using TVs and DVDs to using pico projectors that can be used in areas with less electricity. Our quality assurance piece has certainly gotten much better over time thanks to several interesting partnerships.
What kind of partnerships?
A lot! Some highlights include Vodafone who we work with to send 1-2 minute reinforcement audio clips as automated voice calls to remind farmers about the practices that they watch on video. We are also using mobile technology to collect and triangulate feedback. We are in discussions with Facebook to see how streaming Digital Green’s video content via cell phone might be supported by their Internet.org campaign.
What is the toughest decision you have had to make since founding Digital Green?
We were asked to scale up very early on by the government. They were willing to provide substantial funding but I didn’t feel that we had developed the right infrastructure to support that kind of growth. We held back and I think it has made us stronger and better able to deliver quality work and measure impact.
What do you hope to have accomplished five years from now?
I’d like to maintain a real openness in our approach, from open source software to SOPs to training modules. I want Digital Green to always be innovating, experimenting, and improving. My hope is that other organizations in other geographies and industries can utilize some of our systems and resources to improve the world around them. I also hope to develop a virtual training institute where Digital Green would bring training to frontline workers directly, as well as to partner organizations, using the videos that have already been produced at a grassroots-level. We want others to learn how to facilitate learning the way Digital Green does and implement best practices on a global scale.
Do you consider yourself a social entrepreneur?
Well. I don’t know. It’s a foggy term but I guess in the abstract sense, yes. My roots are in research and technology but I grew into this mission very organically.
What are your top three guiding principles as a leader?
1. Focus on partnerships, especially when you don’t have expertise in an area.
2. Maintain an open, as well as research and exploration focused culture.
3. Don’t lose sight of the mission and be humble in all that you do.
What advice do you have for someone with a social-minded entrepreneurial idea?
Make sure your solution is applicable to real people. Immerse yourself with people and know who you are developing a solution for, as well as how the solution will help. Leveraging technology is a great way to amplify social-oriented activities that are already taking place and making an impact. I suggest doing some market research, identifying the right pain point or the bottleneck, and then developing a solution that helps with efficiency and effectiveness.
It is also important to capture feedback to understand the end-user and continuously improve in a targeted way. For example, Digital Green is capturing usage data and feedback from each individual that interacts with our approach. This helps inform and target the production and distribution of videos based on needs and interests. You have to be honest with yourself about what works and what doesn’t, and make sure you have a culture that can support this type of learning and reflection. I think our research-based beginnings have fostered that type of culture, which is critical for social entrepreneurship.
What do you hope to accomplish by the time you retire?
Honestly, I just want to know that I have not stopped experimenting and learning. I’m sure that I won’t fully understand myself but I want to know that I am contributing to the meaningful development of human beings including myself.
Since 2008, Digital Green has:
- Reached nearly 7,500 villages across India, Ethiopia, and Ghana
- Produced more than 3,500 videos in over 28 languages
- Improved the lives of more than 640,000 community members in India and Sub-Saharan Africa (70% of them women)
- Increased the cost-effectiveness of development efforts tenfold
Preparing for an Interview, Sample Interview Questions, and Tips!
CEO and Executive Level Positions
A job interview needs to be approached like any other important project. You need to do your homework, prepare your answers, listen to the interviewers and, demonstrate your commitment to and unique strengths for the position. To help you have a successful interview, DRi has developed this interview tool to help you prepare and succeed in your interview
- Do your homework on the organization. Read the annual reports, strategic plans, the entire website, watch videos, and Google them. Read all recent articles and leadership staff bios. Understand their financials and structure.
- Spend time with the position overview and align your experience with the requirements. Have specific examples of your qualifications in each area.
- Do your homework on the search committee. Review their bios and google them; try to understand their areas of expertise and what they would be most interested in as it relates to the position.
- Prepare a list of thoughtful questions for the committee. Bring these to the interview.
- Bring materials to take notes.
- Wear a suit. Professional attire demonstrates respect and that you are a serious candidate who can be viewed as a leader. Candidates can fail before they begin if they don’t make the right first impression.
Your objective is to build a positive relationship with each and every member of the search committee. Get them to like you and want to know more about you by:
- Shaking hands, introducing yourself to each member of the committee, and remembering their names.
- Looking at each member of the committee when you answer questions. Do not just focus on one or two people.
- Answer the questions that are asked and keep your answers concise and focused on results.
- Do not go on too long. Long-winded answers turn a search committee off.
- Tell engaging stories that help illustrate your points – but be mindful of the time.
- Be honest in your answers but never negative.
- Remember that they need to see you as a leader who knows how to work with a Board.
- Use your closing remarks to sum up why you are the right person for the job and how your experience and strengths will benefit them.
- Be an active participant; don’t be afraid to take notes.
- Be gracious to everyone: The day of the interview, you will likely encounter administrative assistants or other staff members. Be kind to everyone you interact with; a good first impression goes a long way.
- Listen, think, and then speak: It is important to listen to what the interviewer has to say, and think before responding. Take a few seconds to understand the question, and then prepare a thoughtful quality response that answers the questions. Don’t just say the first thing that comes to mind.
- Never interrupt: Silently wait two or three seconds after the interviewer stops talking before you start.
- Never challenge an interviewer: Putting an interviewer on the defensive will not work to your advantage and will likely eliminate you as a candidate.
No two situations are ever exactly the same, but as a general guide, these are the types of questions that could come up in a typical interview.
1. Tell us about yourself/give us an overview of your experience
This question, often the interview opener, has a crucial objective: to see how you handle yourself in unstructured situations. The committee wants to see how articulate you are, how conﬁdent you are, and what type of impression you would make on the people with whom you come into contact with on the job. They also want to learn about the trajectory of your career including what you think is important and what has led you to perform well. You need to develop a good answer to this question, practice it, and be able to deliver it with poise and conﬁdence. Be prepared to tackle this question in about three minutes.
The right response is twofold: focus on what interests the interviewer and highlight your most significant accomplishments. Discuss what your interests and passions are related to the organization and to the position, as well as why your background makes you a great candidate.
Be aware that there is a wrong way to answer this question; by asking, "What do you want to know?" or by telling them your life story.
- Focus on what interests the interviewer: Do not dwell on your personal history—that is not why you are there. Start with your most recent employment and explain why you are well qualiﬁed for the position. The key to a successful interview is to match your qualiﬁcations to what the interviewer is looking for.
- Highlight important accomplishments: Have a story ready that illustrates your best professional qualities. For example, if you tell an interviewer that people describe you as creative, provide a brief story that shows how you have been creative in achieving your goals. Stories are powerful tools and they are what people remember most.
- Sell yourself with confidence but not arrogance: A good interviewee will memorize a 60-second ‘pitch’ that clearly demonstrates why he or she is the best person for the job. Deliver it with confidence but be wary of sounding arrogant. You want to be selling what the buyer wants.
Committee members want honesty and a response that shows you have done serious self-reﬂection, can admit responsibility, and can accept constructive criticism. Give a short, honest answer and be conﬁdent in the fact that this weakness does not make you any less of a great candidate. Don’t focus on things that are a critical component of the job. Be honest, but don’t talk yourself down.
3. Describe a situation where you were part of a failed project.
If you can’t discuss a failure or mistake, the committee might conclude that you don’t possess the depth of experience necessary to do the job so be sure to prepare a thoughtful response. It is important to note that the committee is not looking for perfection. They are trying to understand your decision-making process, your ability to take responsibility for your actions, and your ability to recover and learn from a mistake. Start with the statement that you’d like to think that you have learned something valuable from every mistake you have made. Then have a brief story ready with a speciﬁc illustration. It should conclude on a positive note, with a concrete statement about what you learned and how it beneﬁted the company.
4. What are your strengths?
Describe three skills that are relevant to the job; preferably two hard skills and one soft skill. Avoid clichés or generalities; offer speciﬁc evidence. Describe new ways that these skills could be put to use in the position you are being considered for.
5. How do you explain your job success?
Think about how your colleagues would explain your success and mention observations other people have made about your work strengths or talents. Be candid without sounding arrogant.
6. What do you do when you are not working?
The more senior the position, the more important it is to know about the candidate’s qualities that will impact his or her leadership style: is the person well-adjusted and happy, or is he or she a company zealot? Discuss hobbies or pursuits that interest you such as sports, clubs, cultural activities, and favorite things to read. Avoid any political or religious activities that may create conﬂict with the interviewers.
7. From what you have learned about the organization so far, what do you see as the most important challenges/opportunities we face?’
This is a “have you done your homework” and “big picture” question. Do you have a clear sense of the organization’s position today and are you able to think conceptually? Do you have a vision for the organization (and are you, therefore, going to be able to help the board to ‘design the future’)? Are you able to present your ideas clearly and persuasively? Are you a strategic thinker or are you likely to get bogged down in the nuts and bolts of the organization’s operations? Describe what you have learned from the organization’s previous experiences including key insights, as well as how those shape and affect the opportunities/challenges the organization faces.
8. If you were in our position and searching for the right individual to head this organization why would you say that you were the best qualified for the position?
Your answer will indicate the extent to which you know your own ability compared with others who they think could likely do the job. Give some evidence of why you have some competitive advantage over others – for example, what unique skill or experience can you contribute that most others do not possess? Answers to this question will also give the panel some indication about your level of self-awareness and breadth of understanding of the challenges of this job. Self-awareness and emotional maturity are key variables in effective leadership and subsequent questions should aim to build to a confident assessment of these factors.
9. What do you feel has been your greatest career accomplishment to date and how has it equipped you for this position?
This is a great opportunity for you to speak to your strengths and to deliver your response with enthusiasm and confidence. Demonstrate an achievement that has direct relevance to the position you are pursuing, and if possible, to something the organization would be interested in for their future. Describe a direct, personal accomplishment that resulted in some major lasting quality or benefit to the organization. Don’t forget to offer names of people who can verify such achievements in your references.
10. What has been the biggest disappointment in your career to date and what did you learn from it?
Do not offer up an experience that is trivial. It signals a reluctance to admit your weaknesses. Everyone has had some career disappointments that are significant or meaningful. No successful leader is perfect and they need to be able to acknowledge their own comparative shortcomings so that they build a management team that complements their own strengths. Be sincere and end on a positive note.
A follow-up or alternative to this question would be: “What are the strengths you would seek in other members of your management team and how would these complement your own abilities?” Effective and self-aware leaders are sufficiently confident in their own abilities that they can appoint subordinates who are stronger than they are in certain key areas.
11. Let’s assume you got the job - what would you do on day one?
Similar to the challenges/opportunities question, the committee wants to gauge how well you investigated the organization, the environment it is operating in, and the challenges this position will face. This question will also give them insight into the way (and the attitude with which) you approach a challenge.
It is critical to understand the search committee and the current state of the organization to answer this question. There is no one right answer as some committees want you to take time gathering staff/stakeholder input and evaluating the organization before taking action, while others will want you to hit the ground running.
12. If those who you respect in your current work environment were asked their opinion of you, how would they describe you and your management ability?
This question gives the committee another perspective on your self-awareness, as well as on the way you view (or would like to view) your management ability. Do you have an inflated view or are you too hard on yourself? This offers a further insight into how realistic and self-confident you are.
13. In your experience, what is the most effective way for the leader of an organization to deal with news media?
This question is designed to get a sense of how you would deal with the news media and what your relationship is with the media in your present role.
14. What questions do you have?
Candidates who respond with probing, thoughtful, nuanced questions are likely to exhibit these same qualities in their leadership; candidates whose questions are dull, rote, irrelevant, or untimely may exhibit similar characteristics on the job. We have seen interviews (and candidacies) end prematurely because of the lack of good questions, and we have seen interest soar in response to prospects whose questions were especially provocative or illuminating.
Ask questions that show you did your research. Make sure the questions you ask are open-ended and engaging. This is your chance to connect with the committee, as well as to show them that you are interested in getting a deeper view of the organization you may soon be leading.
Don’t forget this last make or break detail: saying “thank you”. Follow up with an e-mail the day of the interview and send a handwritten note to each member of the committee. Prepare a thoughtful email that does three things: shows that you learned something about the organization from the interview indicating that there is great potential/an optimistic future; expresses your increased enthusiasm for the position; and thank each individual uniquely for their role in the process and for their time. Use the handwritten note to thank each member, showing warmth, gratitude, and excitement for what is to come.
The New Faces of Virginia Museums
Chrysler Museum of Art. The Mariners’ Museum. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Besides being three renowned and respected cultural institutions, these Virginia-based museums have another thing in common: fresh new leaders. In the past year, DRi had the privilege of working with these organizations to fill senior leadership roles including placing Chrysler’s new Director, Erik Neil; The Mariners’ Museum’s new President and CEO, Elliot Gruber; and VMFA’s new Executive Director of the Foundation and Deputy Director of Resources and Visitor Experience, Claudia Keenan.
Meet the Leaders
After three extensive searches, DRi helped place incredible leaders to guide the museums to continued growth and success. Let’s get to know these new faces!
Erik Neil, Director, Chrysler Museum of Art
Erik began his museum career in 1999 as Director of the Newcomb Art Gallery of Tulane University where he led successful strategic planning, grew revenues, and assured the safety of the museum’s collection in the face of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He turned a fledgling program into a vibrant center of cultural activity. As Executive Director of the Hecksher Museum in New York, Erik led a nine month, $1.5 million museum modernization and initiated its reaccreditation process. He also expanded the museum’s financial capacity through a variety of charitable gifts and events. Most recently, Erik served as the Director of the Academy Art Museum where he led an ambitious acquisitions program that added works by Picasso, Ingres, Modrian, and Rothko, among others. He also established numerous important partnerships and substantially increased community engagement. Erik’s education includes both a Ph.D. and an M.A. in the history of art and architecture from Harvard University.
Erik succeeded previous Chrysler Director William J. Hennessey after his announced retirement following over a decade of successful leadership. Erik is taking over one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects including one of the great glass collections in America.
Elliot Gruber, President and CEO, The Mariners’ Museum
Elliot’s 30 year nonprofit career includes leadership positions in a variety of respected organizations including the United Way of the National Capital Area, the National Parks Conservation Association, and The Gettysburg Foundation. During his eight years with Gettysburg, Elliot served as the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the growth of the organization from a staff of five to over 100. He also directed a successful $125 million capital campaign and established important partnerships with museums including Mount Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier, and the National Constitution Center. At the United Way NCR, Elliot turned around the fundraising program, implementing new outreach and engagement strategies, and strengthened relationships with over 700 member nonprofits.
Elliot assumes the Museum’s head position as it launches the first phase of a major initiative, the Family Exploration Gallery, an interactive exhibit that provides students with real-time access to deep-ocean exploration created by famed ocean explorer Robert Ballard. He will also lead fundraising efforts for the continued support of the $30 million USS Monitor Center.
Claudia Keenan, Executive Director of the Foundation and Deputy Director of Resources and Visitor Experience
Claudia began her nonprofit career at the Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk before moving to New York where she served in leadership positions at several prominent New York institutions including The New York City Opera and Lincoln Center and The New York Botanical Gardens. In both organizations, she led marketing, business development, fundraising, strategic partnerships, and visitor experience efforts. She succeeded in engaging greater and diverse audiences by bringing in new exhibitions and by offering innovative ticket structures that helped acquire new, loyal members. Most recently, she served as the Vice President, External Relations at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk. At EVMS, she was responsible for development, public relations, marketing, alumni affairs, government relations, and strategic planning. She also served as chief of staff to the former president of EVMS from 2010 to 2013. At the medical college, Claudia transformed the school's fundraising efforts, doubling the annual unrestricted dollars in four years and surpassing the projected capital campaign goal threefold in two years. She also instituted the college's first institutional branding and marketing efforts on a large scale, increasing the school's visibility and name recognition.
In her new role with VMFA, Claudia will lead programs to enhance the statewide visitor experience and to expand technology-driven communications with constituents across Virginia. She will add additional support to a strong fundraising team as they prepare for an upcoming capital campaign. As the museum moves forward with their new strategic plan, Claudia will serve a key role in enhancing the public dimension of the organization.
A Bright Future
This wave of change brings new excitement to Virginia museums. With a focus on engaging new audiences, introducing innovative exhibits and programs, and making a greater impact in the community and nationally, these organizations need strong, vision-oriented leaders. Fortunately, with a group of dedicated board members and senior leadership, in addition to a little help from DRi, the right teams are in place. 2015 looks bright for these organizations and their leaders who are undoubtedly refreshing the cultural scene in Virginia and elsewhere.
I thought I was going to be a lobbyist. I was a political science major and really enjoyed discussing issues and convincing people to do things. I was involved in philanthropy in college through my sorority, but had no idea about the non-profit sector. Frankly, in my junior year I realized that I needed to do something that would distinguish me and give me some real world experience. I was fortunate enough to learn about the VISTA program and was chosen to become a VISTA volunteer. I was placed with the United Way in Rochester, NY. This was an incredible experience and really opened my eyes to the non-profit sector and how I could truly make a difference. I started off at the United Way doing research and analysis and then they decided to let me try my hand at fundraising. It was incredible; it took all of my skills and my passions and rolled them into one job. I was hooked from my first donor presentation.
What was the most exciting job you ever had?
They’ve all been great. They have all allowed me to grow and do things I never thought I could do before. With Easter Seals, I was the only person responsible for 9 counties which gave me a lot of responsibility and it was exhilarating. That’s when fundraising was all about “thons”; we did bowl-a- thons, spell-a-thons and bike- a- thons and even softball marathons. It was so incredibly event heavy and we were raising money the hard way – nickels, dimes and quarters.
In the early 80’s there was a terrible famine in Ethiopia. That was the time of the first big concerts including Live AIDE; I was watching it on TV and decided I had to do something about it. I approached CARE and they hired me as their Director of Major Gifts. The first thing they did was send me to work in the feeding camps in Ethiopia. I was able to see first-hand the incredible need for CARE’s work and be a part of directly helping people. The suffering was so awful and very difficult to see. When I came back I was determined to help CARE build the best fundraising program in the country. And we did. I had an incredibly talented team of young dedicated people who came together and stayed for over 10 years. I was able to build a program from the ground up, travel all over the world, and work with amazing donors and volunteer leaders.
I had always said that the only organization I could ever leave CARE for was the American Red Cross. It was my privilege to lead their fundraising, communications and marketing efforts for over 6 years. The Red Cross plays such an important role in the lives of all Americans – locally and nationally. It responds to disasters -; anywhere and any time helping people prepare to respond to personal and natural disasters. Launching a $ 50 million disaster campaign within 48 hours of a disaster was really meaningful. We knew that there were people who needed help and we knew Americans would want to respond. I had an outstanding team at Red Cross, and like at CARE, we stayed together for a long time. Having that kind of trust and knowledge among a fundraising team makes all the difference when you have to make things happen.
Starting DRi was a whole new adventure. I started my first business when I was 8 years old so I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. To be able to help a multitude of organizations with leadership, strategy and effectiveness is incredibly satisfying both personally and professionally. My 25 years inside non-profits prepared me well for taking on the role of trusted outside advisor. While we began as a fundraising consultants first, it became apparent early on that we could write all of the greatest plans in the world , but if the organization did not have the right people to execute it – it would just sit on the shelf. The impact DRi has on leadership, strategy and resources across the non-profit sector is extremely rewarding and important work. I love raking all that I have learned and helping organizations figure out the right path forward.
What has been your most satisfying accomplishment to date?
There are the macro accomplishments and the micro accomplishments.
Macro –at CARE and the Red Cross – I navigated the fundraising landscape and helped change people’s lives every day. I feel very happy about the legacy I left at both organizations and about every successful campaign that I led.
Micro – Developing a team at CARE that grew together and made an incredible impact on the organization. We were all young and fearless when we got there. We did what needed to be done and always found a way to make it happen. We found talented volunteers and maximized their contributions. We made a difference. Most of my staff from that time are all out running their own programs and continuing that impact.
I was at Red Cross when the Columbine tragedy happened. This was the first major school shooting and people were lost, hurting, and scared. They wanted to help and reach out to all the families and the community. The internet and social media were new entities and they were not being used the way they are today. We wanted to find a way for people to show their support for the community so we created the first online posting board used for the public to post sentiments and notes of support – this had never been done before.
What was the most difficult decision you ever had to make during your career so far?
At the American Red Cross, I was running the fundraising, communications, marketing, and international divisions all at the same time when the 1999 Kosovo Crisis exploded. We knew we needed someone on the ground to report on the story, coordinate with the Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescents, and to give us the information we needed to provide both programmatic and financial support. I made the decision very early on in the crisis to send a young staff member to Kosovo as thousands of refugees were pouring out of the country with information about the genocide that was happening. When he arrived in Albania, we had to make a difficult decision – whether to keep him in Albania or send him across the border to Kosovo. I told him to go and after he entered, they shut the border and he was trapped in the country. It was heart-wrenching and I was scared the whole time for him. I agonized over whether I had made the right decision but his reporting made a huge difference. The world was able to know what was going on from the inside. He arrived back home safely to a very appreciative organization and helped tell the stories of thousands who witnessed and survived horrible atrocities.
What is the one thing you can’t do your job without?
Coffee. But seriously, I need to have a passion for what I’m doing and I need to be personally interested and involved in the project. I also need to have really good people around me, people who always believe we will succeed, no matter what. If you don’t think you can succeed, you won’t.
If you could pass on advice for fundraisers today, what would it be?
Be passionate about what you do. It is a privilege to work for a non-profit organization that is making our world a better place. Embrace it and realize you have a responsibility to do everything you can to contribute to the mission of your organization.
Fundraisers need to demonstrate that they are relationship builders – both internally and externally. They need to prove that they can stay with organization, be part of team, build relationships with donors, and not just chase the money. Stay at least five years and really make an impact.
Good fundraisers need to be kind and thoughtful, as well as good listeners. They must also be analytical and results-oriented. Work hard. Get in before your boss does, leave after they leave. Do the work, don’t complain, and you’ll get promoted. Stick around!
Fundraising is one of the best jobs in the world. You’re able to meet people, help people, and align their philanthropic objectives with an organization that can really act on that desire. It encompasses everything – marketing, sales, relationship building, and analytics. At the core of it, you have to like people. If you like people and you’re passionate about the cause, it’s the best job in the world.
Love what you do. If you don’t love it, you won’t raise money.
As seen in this month’s issue of DMAW’s Marketing Advents magazine:
In the years following the most recent recession, many positions within nonprofit organizations were eliminated or left unfilled due to budget constraints. Direct marketing professionals were hit just as hard. With digital communications so much cheaper than traditional direct mail, organizations began to shift their communications online. As a result, many printers and mailshops simply disappeared, agencies shrunk their staffs, and training programs were eliminated.
In wake of the most recent recession, finding qualified candidates to fill the limited number of open positions was easy. But after a few years and as the economy recovered, things started to change. We saw the industry associations’ weekly job exchange listings growing longer and longer, and the position listings were posted for weeks on end. There just weren’t enough qualified candidates to fill the need—and it’s even worse today.
We were curious to learn what the state of employment was in our industry, so in 2013 Production Solutions/PS Digital partnered with Fundraising Success magazine to survey the industry to find what employment challenges the industry is facing. The results were enlightening. This year we repeated the survey, and not surprisingly, we saw very similar results. Our survey had over 600 respondents this year.
Here are the highlights:
The hardest positions to fill are Development Director, Development Coordinator, and Major Gifts Officer.
Recruiting is time consuming, taking 1-3 months to fill junior level positions, 2-5 months to fill mid-level positions and 3-6 months to fill senior level positions.
To attract and retain good talent, organizations are offering training/professional development, flex schedules, and more competitive salaries and benefits.
Roles that are currently outsourced are creative services, digital services, data management, and production management.
We were disappointed to see that even though organizations attract candidates with training opportunities, only one-third of the respondents said they had a formal¬ized training program in place.
Also disturbing was the fact that only one-third of the organizations that responded had a succession plan in place for senior leadership if they were to leave.
So how did the industry get into this employment crisis? Simply put, the industry slashed or eliminated budgets for training and professional development. With such a glut of experienced candidates looking for jobs, there was little need to train new entrants to the marketplace. Why pay for training if you don’t have to? Not having invested in the next generation of fund¬raisers and direct marketers over the past seven to eight years is now taking its toll.
So how is the industry reacting to the employment crisis? I reached out to industry leaders to hear how they are dealing with these challenges.
“The coveted ‘mid-level’ program or account manager position is the hardest to fill and retain,” says Nancy Racette, an executive search consultant. She added that the typical mistakes that organizations make are:
Nancy has seen great success in placing hard working, passionate “up-and-coming” candidates in roles that provided the opportunity to grow into mid-level and senior positions. “Investing in the right people can make all the difference.”
A partner of a leading DC-based fundraising agency is addressing the employment challenges head-on.
“Our agency is growing, which has allowed us to create a solid career path for our junior and mid-level staff within our agency,” said this partner. “We have established new leadership positions and new departments that give our staff these growth opportunities. We have also increased salaries and benefits to be more aggressive than competing agencies. Professional development is a priority for all levels of staff at our firm, and we realize that our staff appreciates the flexibility of working from home one day a week. This approach has allowed us to grow by 20 percent in the past two years and we will continue this level of growth in 2015.”
So what’s my advice?Nancy K. Racette, COO of DRi, is interviewed in July/August 2012 Advancing Philanthropy Article, click here to view full PDF version.
AFP-DC June 2012 Newsletter
Development Resources, inc.
Development Resources, inc. provides services that help non-profits worldwide grow, thrive and excel. They focus on building the capacity of non-profits through executive and board search, fundraising/non-profit consulting, and organizational development. Specific services include strategic planning services to help organizations determine their future direction; governance including board development as a critical component of a healthy and successful non-profit organization and; staff development including coaching and workshops for both staffs and volunteers in fundraising, management and presentation skills. DRi was founded in 2001 by Jennifer Dunlap, President and CEO, and Nancy Racette, CFRE, COO, who each bring over 25 years of non-profit experience.
DRi is committed to the fundraising profession and sees AFP as an important organization that provides training, resources and opportunities for fundraisers at all levels to meet, learn from each other, make connections, and further the profession. Nancy served on the board of AFP’s Foundation for Philanthropy from 1998 to 2003, became active with the AFP DC Chapter in 2003, serving on the AFP DC Board from 2005 to 2012, and as AFP DC’s Chapter president in 2010. DRi was one of the founding Chapter Partners of the AFP DC chapter, a sponsor of the first National Capital Philanthropy Day in 2002 (and continues to sponsor AFP DC’s signature recognition event), has sponsored the Bridge Conference and most recently sponsored the Chapter’s Summer Social in June.
Of her longtime association with AFP, Nancy says “I feel that I have always been a part of AFP. I strongly believe in giving back to the fundraising profession. We should all support our profession and AFP is an organization that educates and strengthens individuals and, in so doing, strengthens non-profit organizations.”
Education is a key reason DRi supports AFP DC. Nancy observed “There is a true lack of qualified mid-level fundraisers to help organizations grow and thrive. AFP DC serves such a critical need to help educate young people just getting into fundraising and helping them understand their strengths and interests in the profession so that they select positions that will benefit from their strengths and they will find satisfying and fulfilling.”
Mentoring is another key benefit AFP DC offers. “I have had a lot of mentors over the years through AFP,” Nancy said, “and I try to serve this important role for others. We need to personally inspire and help others, especially young people getting into our profession so that they grow and serve their organizations well.”
“For more than 10 years, DRi has been privileged to work with organizations that make this world a better place…and AFP DC helps individuals dedicated to the profession of fundraising thrive.”
Recruiters Seeking Experience, Connections - 09/16/2011
By Samuel J Fanburg
When Lynn Croneberger, the soon-to-be vice president of development for the Wilderness Society, was selected by the organization it wasn’t her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) designation that propelled her to the top. She believes it came down to her “well-rounded” experience. “I thought it had more to do with my breadth of experience,” she said. “I’ve been fundraising for more than 15 years. I have had experience with capital campaigns, direct mail and cause marketing. I have also become president of my local Washington D.C. Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) chapter.”
According to a study published by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation called Daring to Lead 2011: A National Study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership, two-thirds of nonprofit executives recently indicated they are looking to leave their organizations within the next five years. And with this increase in available positions, a new criterion for executive search has emerged, heralding experience and staying power as the main determinants for the hiring process. For Croneberger, the application process has been immensely positive. As noticed sector-wide, the number of available positions has dramatically increased since the dampening of the recession early this spring. Organizations are still looking for those basic skills of relationship building, cultivation of major donors with major donor experience, but are now asking for knowledge in social media, said Croneberger. “2011 has been gangbusters,” said Jay Berger, a partner at Morris & Berger, an executive search firm in Glendale, Calif. “I think during the economic recession you saw a lot of pre-Baby Boomers who planned to retire, but once they saw their 401(k) shrinking, didn’t go through with it. Now that retirement packages are back to where we saw them two-three years ago, we’ve been seeing more organizations looking for new leadership.”
Although Berger takes cues from clients on qualifications they wish to see in applicants, the firm has developed its own criteria, specifically focusing on experience rather than certificates and degrees as one of the top indicators of future success. Typically, search firms like to see someone who has stayed in the same organization, in the same capacity for more than two to three years said Berger. “If we see someone with less, it says they were probably not successful or aggressively opportunistic by not staying with the organization,” said Berger. “Ideally we are looking for someone with four- to five year stints. Of course, earlier in someone’s career you can see short tenures. But clients are looking for these people to stay five to seven years in senior positions.” In addition, many times Berger has clients asking him for applicants who can speak Spanish, as his West Coast clients deal with Spanish speakers on a frequent basis. Whereas Berger has seen organizations looking for a continuation of past leadership, Jennifer Dunlap, president and CEO of Development Resources in Arlington, Va., has seen client organizations go in the complete opposite direction when searching for new leadership.
“What a lot of organizations are looking for is someone who can think about things differently and view the hiring process as a way to rethink their fundraising strategy,” she said. “We think of this concept as ‘new business development,’ by really looking into what the resources and assets the organization has to be itself. We are rally think for folks who can come up with an integrated resource strategy and have the ability to look holistically.”
Specializing in hiring executive directors and directors of development, the Dunlap places a very high premium on experience, looking at applicants with five to six years in one place. Dunlap said that high turnover has been long symptom of nonprofit work, with organizations intent on changing the status quo. “I think one of the biggest things nonprofits are looking for is people with staying power and who can bring people together for a team,” Dunlap said. “Nonprofits have been hurt by constant turnover. I also think these organization need to go back to a time where they hired from within, because passion, commitment and strategic thinking, can’t be taught, these types of folks have to be nurtured from within.” As for degrees and/or credentials, Dunlap said she has seen organizations gravitating towards applicants with business credentials. An MBA is particularly attractive, with some nonprofits wanting to see applicants who have been exposed to boards. As for the certified fundraising executive (CFRE) certificate, Dunlap said while some organizations do request applicants with the credential, an applicant has never been disqualified for not having the credential.
From the experience of Larry Raff, CEO of Copley Raff, the subject of a CFRE rarely comes up and from his research, what it takes to get this credential doesn’t necessarily translate into an applicant’s accomplishments and experiences. Instead, the Newton, Mass., group focuses intently on the interview process and reference checking asking applicants to tell them stories about their prior work experience.
“We ask our applicants to tell us stories in their own words so we can see the continuum of how a few ideas can lead to a distinguishable result,” he said. “How they choose their words and their thought process can be very important on how they act on the job.” Similar to the other executive search firms, Copley Raff likes to see applicants with two to three years of experiences. As for other determiners, Raff likes to see if the types of organization they worked with closely align with the position for which they are applying. Copley Raff critiques the applicant’s cover letter, interview, which is done through Skype or in-person meeting and social edia. “We’re more interested in LinkedIn,” said Rebekah Kaufman, director of counseling services. “We liked to see how many people their connected with, but don’t have a specific threshold we like to see reached. In today’s world, it is just important to have a presence. We don’t see Facebook as this important.”
One executive Copley Raff recently placed, Shelley Cornish, chief advancement officer, for The Learning Center for the Deaf (TLCD), believes that her experience centering around “niche populations” led to her eventual hire at the Framingham, Mass., organization. “I started my career in higher education and from there I was able to go sorts of educational institutions,” she said. “I went from Babson College, to the Sage School and then to the Lexington Christian Academy. TLCD talked to me because of my experience with these niche populations. Two schools I worked for in particular worked with gifted students and was with religious students.” TLCD wanted some restructuring of her position and did want someone who would maintain the status quo. And for Cornish’s own professional development, she indicated that a CFRE or any other designation was not so important to her. “That (CFRE) never came up at all during the application process,” she said. “I thought it was because they did not have the sophistication and the credential was not even on their radar. I have considered it at times, but that my own experience has shown people that I have the ability.”
According to David Edell, president and co-founder of search firm DRG in New York City, there has been a definite increase in organizations searching for new leadership with some looking towards the for-profit world. Edell said he has seen nonprofits many times look at lawyers for applicants, as they are familiar with planned giving and endowments. Berger at Morris & Berger said he has seen the same thing. “We get asked about 15 to 20 percent of the time to present candidates from the for-profit world,” said Berger. “I think the biggest problem comes with the transition these people have to make, though. The nonprofit world is much more inclusive, based in consensus, whereas it is more top down in the for profit world.”
For organizations and executive search firms, it is infinitely important to be on the same page of this process to get all that one can out of the relationship and by also selecting the right candidate.“It’s all about transparency,” said Kaufman. “In the end, the search firm is an extension of the company. We see potential in candidates who not only ask about the programs of an organization, but the “warts” of one as well. The smartest candidates are the ones asking those questions.” NPT
The NonProfit Times
by Kate Rogers
Before the days of iChat, Skype or Facebook, Nancy Racette, chief operating officer of DRI Consulting in Arlington, Va., would conduct video interviews with potential candidates at her local Kinkos. Today, she can look at an applicants resume, professional profile and Twitter account, all on her Blackberry.
While advanced technology has helped the job recruitment and executive search game evolve, the basic principles have stayed the same, Racette said. The Internet has only leveled the playing field.
Getting a job, in any sector, has always been about networking, she said. That hasnt changed.
Only now, there are more ways for recruiters and job seekers to network. It is important to realize that networking sites are not to be used under one umbrella, Racette said. Electronic identity is everything when it comes to first impressions.
However you present yourself electronically makes a difference in peoples perceptions, and how they may find you, she said. LinkedIn is a professional resource and you should use it as such. Facebook is a friends and family thing; its not a professional thing.
Gone are the days of mailing out resumes and cover letters, and waiting by the phone in hopeful anticipation. Recruiters today are working in a 24/7 world with unrestricted access to candidates. In a tough economy and competitive job market, Racette said applicants need to brand themselves, and the Web is a great tool to do just that.
Im not sure people develop their brand, and they should, she said. Treat yourself like a product. Marketing is really important. If you catch my attention (online), I will call you for the rest.
Although developing an online brand is essential, Racette said it is also important to develop a healthy balance between time spent on the Internet and out connecting with real people. Be careful about how much time you are spending on what you are doing online, she said. If you have 24/7 to tweet, how can you do your job? Fundraising and nonprofits are still pretty people-intensive businesses. You have to be spending time raising money, delivering services and educating people.
The look and feel
The platform might have changed, but the modern resume still serves the same purpose as its older counterpart -- to get your foot in the door. The Web allows recruiters to more easily investigate job seekers, and also enables candidates to study what charities are working on to gather important facts about the organization itself. Those in search of a job can even contact recruiters directly, said Stephen Albert, partner at executive search firm Albert Hall & Associates in Hartford, Conn.
The resume is a tool to try to get someones attention to hopefully get you in a room and have a conversation, Albert said. It still needs to perform that function with clarity.
The body of an email has become increasingly important because it has taken the place of the cover letter, he said. What I think is new now is that the email has to have its own very specific purpose in terms of what is in the body, to get the recruiter to open the resume, Albert said. It is always important when you are responding to an opportunity to be specific about how your skills and ability align with what you perceive to be the needs of that organization. Its just like when anyone visits your Web site, you want them to move to the point of action; you want an email to be crisp and inviting.
Sculpting the resume to cater to a certain position is important as well, even for entry-level candidates. Resumes should reflect achievements, not just what a job entailed while the seeker worked there, Albert said.
I am always surprised by people who want employers and recruiters to connect the dots, as opposed to capturing it and making it clear who they are, what they are looking for, and what they have done, he said. Identify what your strengths are, where you want to be, determine what possibilities exist and network. Eventually you get yourself in front of someone who can hopefully say Yes to you.
Racette said creating a shorter resume that caters to smartphones is ideal for the initial connection, and it should be made clear that more information is available if needed. Two pages is acceptable for the modern resume, she said, as long as primary skill sets are included, as well as where a candidate has worked in chronological order. Most importantly, candidates must back up their words with some details and evidence.
I think people need to be able to prove beyond just saying it, that they are creative and entrepreneurial. In these economic times, we need people who have more than just people skills, she said. Candidates always tell me they are Great with people and want to make a difference. You dont stand out just by saying that to me.
Racette said the average search lasts close to four months.
Ann Worley, editor and creative consultant at Chicago, Ill.-based Careers in Nonprofits, said writing a candidate summary or profile at the top of a resume is also vital when considering smartphone optimization for resumes. Instead of just having a simple resume goal, the summary should also say who you are as a candidate, and what type of position you are seeking.
Knowing keywords that are pertinent to that position will capture a potential recruiters attention, Worley said. It is intensified just how important this is (for smartphones). A lot of folks are looking on their Blackberry and just seeing a snippet and deciding in 10 or 15 seconds whether they will continue reading.
With the ever-growing presence of social networking and new media, Albert said he often searches YouTube to find videos of potential candidates lecturing or being interviewed. In addition, he searches social and professional networking platforms.
You get a sense of how they present themselves -- their energy, their articulateness, he said. That has become a new and certainly great thing about the Internet; you can find just about anyone.
Interviewers are also utilizing Web capabilities such as Skype and iChat to contact potential hires. The best thing about this technology is that it is making communication faster and easier, Albert said. We are simply going towards the ability to access individuals in a speedy manner, which is very helpful.
David Cheng, managing partner at DRG, Inc. in New York City, said Skype has significantly reduced the cost of video interviewing and conferencing. Likewise, YouTube helps to weed out potential candidates for senior level positions, Cheng said.
We can view from our desktop in an easy and simple way our CEOs in public presentations,he said. The nature of a CEO is someone who is a spokesperson for an organization and who has a certain presence about them. We see videos demonstrate that for candidates, and also those who may not be a good fit.
However, once it comes down to the wire, Cheng said he reminds his staff that in-person is the best approach, despite the convenience of technology.
At a certain level it is high-touch, not high tech, he said.
Information is so readily accessible on the Web, Albert said, making it important for resumes, cover letters and interviews to be extremely well researched and thought out. Blanket statements will not cut it, especially in todays economic environment.
Youve got to be pinpointed, he said. In this market, it is critical. The shot gun approach (to applying for jobs) gives you the sense you are doing something, but is probably not the most strategic way to move forward as you are trying to get interviews. It comes through in the letter, the resume and most importantly, once you get into that room.
Modern technology is making things both easier and more complicated at once, Racette said. While it is convenient to answer an email on the fly, it also can be challenging when filtering information about potential hires. Because there is more volume and less privacy online, lines have become increasingly blurred for recruiters. Therefore job seekers should be very cautious about what information is available about them online.
I can find out if you are broke, Racette said of candidates. Should I be using that to determine if I should hire you? Probably not, but organizations probably do. You dont have the chance to protect yourself from that today. The Internet is a good supplemental too, and it makes our world that much smaller. NPT
The Onboarding Process: What Is It and How It Can Help Retain Top Talent
by Crystal Diaz de Villegas
Why is Having an Onboarding Process Important?
Do you remember your first day in your current position? Think back to the first day of your very first job ever. Perhaps you were involved in team meetings to discuss the ins and outs of the organization, how to be successful, and how to move up. Unfortunately, most organizations do not have an established onboarding process that welcomes new hires and helps retain top talent. Instead, organizations are experiencing increasing attrition over the years, with most new hires committing less than 5 years to a single organization.
The bottom line is that talent retention is important for your bottom line. Keeping a successful employee at your organization is important for customer satisfaction and keeping overall costs down. Keep in mind that having a successful onboarding process in place that involves building personal relationships early on is 4 times more likely to retain a new hire compared to compensation, so let’s get started!
How to Design a Successful Onboarding Process
Step 1: Start with the hiring process
Successful onboarding involves establishing personal connections between colleagues which can start as early as the hiring process. It is important to hire with cultural fit in mind and consider the new employee’s growth potential. Will this person only serve to fill an immediate need or could you see them moving up in the organization?
Tip: Consider involving the team/department in the interview process. Introducing staff to a final candidate or candidates can help make them feel part of the process and helps the new hire get a sense of who they will be working with every day.
Step 2: Consider pre-boarding
Pre-boarding is a great way to get your new hire to feel welcome before their start date and also serves to get some of the necessary but time-consuming HR work out of the way early. Pre-boarding should occur before the new employee’s official start date.
Tip: Send new hires organization information including a personalized welcome letter, history, values, benefits, etc. Be sure to get things out of the way early as well, such as tax forms, setting up email addresses, and so on. Check out the Technology Spotlight below for some more ideas on pre-boarding.
Step 3: Be prepared for Day 1-90
Day 1 should be all about making the employee feel welcome, prepared and set up for success. Ensure they meet important senior leaders and receive appropriate training during the first 90 days of employment. Make sure the employee understands personal and overall goals, as well as how to accomplish them. Don’t forget that the learning period requires patience and mentoring. Effective onboarding will also require you to empower your employee and boost their confidence.
Tip: Set up a team welcoming breakfast or lunch. Have the team discuss issues they wish they had known when they started and allow an open, honest platform for questions to be answered. Consider assigning a mentor or “buddy” to your new employee.
Step 4: Evaluate your onboarding process
Be sure to put metrics in place to analyze how your onboarding process has affected retention rates, as well as employee and customer satisfaction. Since establishing an onboarding process, has revenue increased? Have sick/personal day usage decreased? Don’t forget to make improvements based on your evaluations.
Tip: Create new hire surveys that are given on the first day and end of the first month, and conduct focus groups at the end of the first year. Be sure to ask about the effectiveness of the pre-boarding process, the first day experience, and for any suggestions for future new hires.
Start onboarding before the official start date with a pre-boarding mobile app! For larger organizations that hire more frequently, an app that contains useful information for new hires could be a great way to start forming a personal connection between the employee and organization. Be sure to include information such as history, values, benefits, first-day FAQs, and relevant how-to information.