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Take This Job and Love it

By Ashley Gatewood posted 11-29-2021 10:00


What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? If it won’t cause a PTSD episode, think back on why it made you miserable. Now, let’s make sure you never feel that way again.

Be picky
Finding a role that you’ll thrive in begins with deftly assessing the job description. Be choosy and avoid the crop-dusting approach of firing off your resume to every position you feel moderately qualified for.

Where do you want to go?
Are you looking to make a leap up the career ladder? Climb one rung? Or are there circumstances that make a lateral move more attractive? Once you’ve determined this, it’s easier to narrow your search.

Consider the causes that make you want to pop out of bed in the morning, energized to support your mission. Also, reflect on the missions that don’t charge your batteries.

While it sounds obvious, if you have no interest in raising funds for a private school’s new athletic field, don’t apply for a job where that’ll be your focus for the next year or more.
Your authentic passion for the cause is a considerable wedge of the success pie. If you’re indifferent to the project/cause you’re fundraising for, don’t think donors and stakeholders won’t notice.

Bull’s eye: What’s your target salary?
Fortunately the #ShowtheSalary movement has incited more organizations than ever to post their positions’ salary ranges.

Carefully consider your target salary. Let’s say you come across an opening at a well-known reputable organization but the pay is more “meh” than “yeah.”

Evaluate if the salary is worth the tradeoff for the experience and resume gold the organization can offer. It may well be a solid compromise. But if the sparse salary will leave you
stressed about meeting your personal financial goals and set your retirement back considerably, keep looking.

At all costs avoid the well-worn path that leads directly to the, “This salary is $20k less than what I want, but I’m sure in the interview I can talk them up,” trap.

Organizations post the salary ranges their budget supports. While there may be some wiggle room on the pay amount, be realistic. This is usually a miracle-free zone.

To home office or not?
Know thyself. Are you an extrovert craving a bustling office? Or the quiet type who only wants cats for in-person (ahem, in-feline) co -workers?

If you’re the former, don’t put your hat in the ring for a work-from-home role where your co-workers are scattered across multiple time zones and you come together annually for a strategy session. If you’re unemployed or champing at the bit to get out of your current work scenario, it is tempting to brush the in-person vs. home office consideration aside. Remember, this is your life we’re talking about. Don’t apply for a job if the setting doesn’t suit your work style.

Many organizations now offer remote work options. Pay attention to how much travel there may be to the head office and if you’re expected to work 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. your time or if you’re beholden to the head office’s time zone.

Realistic responsibilities or a quagmire of failure?
I recently saw a job listing for a director of development at a university. One responsibility was listed as, “Coordinate all alumni and development activities.”

Hmmm…that seems a bit vague, no? How many alumni activities are there? Are they held around the country, on-campus, virtually, or some hybrid of all three?

There’s a massive difference between coordinating one virtual alumni activity per month versus overseeing weekly activities for various alumni segments across the continent.
When assessing a job description, it’s fine if you have questions about the depth of work involved. Note these instances so that should you snag an interview, you can get the info you need to help you determine if you actually want to work for the employer.

Also, beware the superhero list of responsibilities. If one human person could not possibly perform the role’s duties, steer way clear. This job is likely set up for failure and/or a speedy erosion of your sanity.

Small or super-size?
Whether you prefer to be in a fundraising shop of one or a sizeable team is a major consideration. Both have their upsides and drawbacks.

If the job description doesn’t provide a sense of team size, take to LinkedIn to suss out how many people are on the fundraising squad. This isn’t foolproof, but if you note there are currently a dozen fundraisers at the organization, it is an insightful starting point.

Annual reports may also help on your quest. If you’re a loner who likes to work with a handful of others, there’s no point dipping your toe in the, “We have 35 fundraisers and you’ll need to manage nine coordinators in their 20s” pool.

Make that magic happen
Landing your dream job only comes from being strategic in your search. The better you understand what makes you feel like jumping for joy at work, the more likely you are to clinch your dream job.