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On CNP’s social media this week, we will be talking all about leadership! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for articles, career advice, professional development tips, and more. And don’t forget, if you have a question about the week’s topic (or a general question for CNP staff), you can reach us on any of

Internal Training: The Employer’s Competitive Advantage

There is no question that the job market is always changing. And with it, so are the needs of today’s employees. That’s why we survey our candidates – so we can share the most up-to-date data with nonprofit organizations on what employees want from their employers. Job seekers, future employees, staff looking for an exciting change — each

It Starts with You: Best Practices for Creating a Happily Engaged Staff

More than ever, it’s important for employers to recognize that the job market is very different from years past. While it’s been a slow and steady progression, we are now experiencing a candidate-driven market when it comes to hiring new employees. This means that there are more job opportunities than active job seekers. Because candidates

Testimonials

We Value Every Client & Every Candidate

Careers In Nonprofits earned the Best of Staffing® Award for providing remarkable service quality. Fewer than 2% of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada earned the 2016 Best of Staffing Award for service excellence. Best of Staffing winners truly stand out for exceeding expectations and this award identifies the staffing industry’s elite leaders in service quality.

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Careers In Nonprofits was honest and transparent in their interactions. I appreciated the upfront attention to what my organization needed. They were conscientious. I liked having multiple qualified people to interview. I am happy with the person whom I hired through Careers In Nonprofits. They were a resource after they placed a candidate with me. I was satisfied all around.

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We consistently receive a high degree of professionalism and service from CNP. And we’ve also hired multiple high quality candidates in both temporary and permanent capacities. They have navigated our high expectations really well, and provided terrific support and coaching to me in so many ways.

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CNP gives the utmost support to their candidates. I am blessed to have worked with Careers In Nonprofits who works professionally and with prompt and caring attention.

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This is the second time that CNP has assisted me in finding a job that is perfect for me and allows me to take the next step in my career.

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Career Q&A with Nurys

Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
What are three ways to make a cover letter stand out? – Sammy M., Washington, DC

Cover letters are a great way to showcase why you’re the best person for the job, but it’s easy to write a bad one. Here are three things to keep in mind:

1. Your cover letter is not your resume.

Don’t waste space by repeating what’s on your resume. Instead, expand on key responsibilities and accomplishments in your previous roles. What hard and soft skills have you been able to master that aren’t obvious on your resume? What did you learn about yourself and your work preferences? Make sure to connect everything back to why you’re a great fit for the position you’re applying for.

2. Personalize your letter as much as possible.

Do some research and find the name of the person who will be reviewing your application. If you can’t find it or are unsure how to address someone, call the organization and ask. This may seem mortifying, but you’ll be more mortified if the “Mr. Jordan Gray” you sent your application is actually “Dr. Jordan Gray,” a woman with a PhD in Economics. As a last resort, address it to the hiring manager or search committee for the specific position you’re applying to.

Stay away from fluffy buzzwords. They don’t say much about you and will make the hiring manager roll their eyes. Everyone calls themselves a “team player” and a “people person.” Explain why and how you deserve those labels instead: “I directed 50+ calls per hour to 5 other people on my team, as well as taking them myself. This year, I won the Shout-Out Award for being the most frequently named staff member in customer surveys for exemplary service.”

3. Keep it short.

There’s a lot you can say in a cover letter, but don’t exceed a page. (The majority of hiring managers would prefer if you kept your cover letter to just half a page.) If the application format or job post specifies a certain length for your cover letter, make sure you follow those instructions. They’ll definitely weed out the people who don’t.

If your cover letter is too long, you may be trying to say too much. Pare your accomplishments down to the three most impressive ones. Don’t forget to take out sentences with information that’s elsewhere on your application, like “My name is John Smith. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Finance in May 2016.”

Cut out passive voice and adverbs as much as possible, which make your sentences longer and weaken the impact of your words. Online tools like Hemingway can pinpoint these issues, but make sure you have a real person look over your cover letter, too. They’ll also be able to help you spot fluffy buzzwords that you should either get rid of or re-work into stronger statements.

Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is the President of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

How long should one stay in an entry level position? – Nashika T., Chicago

The short answer here is that it’s relative. The question here shouldn’t necessarily be about how long one should stay but rather how to optimize an entry level role. Of course, no one’s expecting you to stay for ten years—but two years? Absolutely; there’s a point in the beginning of everyone’s career where you have to pay your dues. Sure, you may not be in the ideal role at the moment, but there are steps you can take to make the best of your entry level job. Some things to consider:

Do you have a career map? Do you have an idea of where you’d like to head next and how you can flourish in your current position? One great way to illustrate your next steps and better visualize your goals is by making a career map. Career mapping is a great way to view your progress, set goals and anticipate changes; it’s as simple as putting your ambitions down on paper and assigning them timeframes. For example, you can designate two years or so to your current role and allot certain professional milestones to each month or every six months.

Are you still learning? Building and expanding upon skills and learning from mentors and colleagues are often what keep an individual engaged in the workplace. If you’ve found that you haven’t been absorbing as much as you could, consider reestablishing your connections to your mentors and colleagues. You could ask your mentor to coffee if you haven’t in a while, or inquire into your desk mate’s latest project. This serves to foster a productive relationship between you and your acquaintances; you might also learn something new over cappuccinos!

How’s your work life balance? Many times, articles and discussions about work life balance seem to be directed at those who are in high powered careers and have been in them for years. Though that’s not untrue, work life balance is often overlooked in entry level candidates—many who tend to let the late nights in the office build and their emotionally fulfilling side projects dwindle. Even if you’re right out of the gate and the greenest person in the office, your work life balance should be a priority. Your time in your entry level job will only seem longer and drier when you’re working 60-hour weeks and haven’t seen your friends and family in months!

How long you stay in an entry level position depends on your goals (whether they’re long-term or short-term) and your circumstances. Regardless of what they are, consider volunteering, freelancing or working on passion projects on the side to build new skills and gain experience. This way, you stay refreshed and cognizant of life outside of your work, which will only serve to enrich you and make you all the better at tackling challenges in not only your current role, but in roles to come!

Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

What is the best way to address gaps in your resume? – Katherine K., Washington, DC

As is the case with all things regarding resumes and job seeking in general, my first point of advice is to avoid lying about why you have gaps in your work history. Even if it’s just a white lie, the consequences are far greater than a nervous slip of the tongue and should be avoided at all costs. Honesty is the best policy!

Another way to address gaps in your resume is to consider using a functional resume, which highlights your skills first and foremost as opposed to listing your experience chronologically.

If you would still like to use the traditional resume format, you might want to list just the duration of time you spent in previous jobs versus listing a specific time frame.

If a functional or chronological resume isn’t on the top of your list, a great way of sharing your skills and experience is to bolster your professional summary at the top of the document (or to create one entirely if you don’t have one).

If questions regarding your resume gaps arise during an initial phone call or first round interview, telling the truth prevails over attempting to mask why you haven’t worked for six months. In fact, questions from the recruiter or hiring manager can be a good thing—you’re given the ability to explain a difficult situation (say, in the event you were a caretaker for an ill parent) or how you’re attempting to break into a new field.

Contrary to popular opinion, gaps in your work history aren’t a resume’s kiss of death. In fact, they are more common than you might think. Recruiters and hiring managers alike are aware of the unpredictability of life and are sympathetic to that fact. While they are sympathetic, it’s also important to be aware that it might take some time to jump back on the career horse. Consider the listed advice and mind the resume gap in order to stride confidently back into the working world!

Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

 
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We offer permanent, temporary and temp-to-permanent staffing in the nonprofit sector. Once you register with Careers In Nonprofits, your résumé is available to our recruiters whenever they search our database. You can also search for jobs by visiting our website.