I've been blessed to work in the nonprofit field in Denver for the past 22 years. I suppose because of this longevity, I'm approached for advice about once a week from someone looking to either transition into the nonprofit field or someone simply looking for a great job in Denver. In fact, as I type this post, I'll be having lunch with a job seeker today. I do love helping others find great jobs! In 2012, I tracked that I helped 11 folks find great jobs during that year.
I've been wanting to document all of my job search tips in a LinkedIn post, so here it goes. I will likely be editing and augmenting this post over time. Also, I'd love to get your job search tips for others in the Comments link below too! Thanks.
1. My three favorite job boards in Denver for finding nonprofit jobs are:
https://www.voacolorado.org/careers (where I work - join me at a great nonprofit!)
I will say you should not just limit yourself to these job boards. Check out all the other biggees: CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed and I've heard Craig's List too. Also, I've found over the years that not every nonprofit posts their jobs on these boards listed above. So, you may want to find the top 10 nonprofits you'd like to work for and bookmark their job postings link on their websites. Then check out their job postings links about once a week when you're in the job search. (Three more of my favorite job boards, not necessarily nonprofit related are CU's job board: www.cu.edu/cu-careers and Lew's List for finance jobs: www.lewslist.com and Connecting Colorado: www.connectingcolorado.com)
2. Colorado Nonprofit Association job board posts new jobs generally Monday through Friday at about 5 p.m. If you're actively in the job search, I recommend you check it each weekday evening for new postings. Andrew Hudson's job list posts a ton of new jobs each Monday at about Noon. I highly recommend you subscribe to his weekly email to alert you to new job postings. Also, he posts a lot of new jobs throughout the week under his "Jobs that Can't Wait" link. Andrew is also simply a great guy. I highly recommend you attend one of his job seeker bootcamps or seminars if you get a chance.
3. My biggest piece of advice for job seeking is: APPLY FAST! Be one of the first resumes & cover letters in for a new job posting. I have found personally when I post a new job opening at Goodwill, I tend to review the first resumes and cover letters that come in more thoroughly then later resumes. This is human nature. You're excited about your new job posting. If you're one of the first resumes and cover letters in, you'll have a better chance of getting reviewed and getting an interview. If you apply a week or two down the road, the hiring manager may have already filled their allotted interview slots and you may be simply too late.
4. Have a strong customized cover letter! This I think is critical these days. Even if a job posting doesn't explicitly ask for a cover letter, I highly recommend you put one together for each and every job. Customize the cover letter as follows:
A. First paragraph should talk about your interest/passion for the nonprofit/company's mission. They want to know you did some homework/research and you know who they are and what they do! I've seen too many generic cover letters from job applicants where I'm quite sure they have no idea what Goodwill does - which makes me wonder if they really want the job.
B. Second paragraph should talk about your skillset and how it matches up with the job opening. If you're transitioning to the nonprofit field for the first time then you'll want to talk about your past volunteer or other nonprofit experiences, or how your for-profit experiences will translate well into the nonprofit world.
C. Keep your cover letter to one page. Don't overdo it with content.
D. It might be a very good investment to hire a professional to help you update and format your resume and/or cover letter. Here's one highly recommended professional to consider: www.gabbycommunications.com
5. Reach out to your network after applying for a job you really want and see if anyone knows someone at the nonprofit/company. If so, ask them if they would put in a good word for you. I do this often for job seekers. If I know the job seeker and know someone at the nonprofit they applied to, I'll ask the job seeker to email me their resume and cover letter. I then forward along this email with the resume and cover letter attached to my contact at the nonprofit and put in a good word for the job seeker. My goal here is to help the job seeker at least get an interview. Once they are at the interview stage, it's then all up to the job seeker! Occasionally I am called for a reference check too, which I'm of course happy to do if I know the job seeker.
6. Build your network and meet with them. There is no better time than NOW to start building your network, even if you're happily employed. If you're job seeking now, then now is a great time to let your network know you're job seeking and ask for coffees or lunches or meetings. Don't be bashful about connecting with folks you haven't seen in years. There is power in "loose ties." Sometimes folks in your network that you haven't seen in years might be the exact people that will help you find your next great job!
7. Update your LinkedIn Profile details and have a professional headshot photo. LinkedIn is where many hiring managers go first to learn more about you. Make sure your LinkedIn profile job experience matches what's on your resume. And I highly recommend investing in a professional headshot photo. It looks so much more professional than a cropped photo.
8. Volunteer. If you're wanting to work for a specific nonprofit, there is no better way to show that you support their mission than by volunteering with them. Also, volunteering with any/many nonprofits while you're in between jobs shows good initiative. I also think volunteering will help keep your confidence up and spirits high in the sometimes discouraging journey of job seeking.
9. Read this terrific article in the Denver Post about job seeking in Denver for some more advice: http://www.denverpost.com/2016/07/08/how-to-get-a-job-in-denver/
What piece of advice for job seekers am I missing? Please post up in the comments below. Thanks! I hope this post has been or will be helpful to many job seekers! -Mike