Finding "The One": Thoughts on the Job Search

Alright, you. Deep breath. Remember your talking points, check your teeth for cilantro from lunch, and smile. Another deep breath. Dry-off your sweaty hands. Confidence, poise. Keep. Breathing.

How many of us have experienced this inner monologue? Whether meeting someone for a promising first date or interviewing for what you may consider the perfect job, nerves get the best of many of us. Luckily the more experience you have with interviewing (or dating for that matter) the less stressful it often becomes. Being well prepared, self-aware, and confident can often muffle the voice we have in the back of our minds questioning whether that laugh made us appear interested or overeager.

At YNPN’s most recent event, “Getting in the Door and Getting the Job–A Résumé and Interview Workshop,” we had the opportunity to increase our preparation and confidence by discussing the job search process with hiring managers from a variety of Twin Cities area nonprofits. Inspired by this event I give to you the following five lessons to learn about the remarkably similar dating and job search worlds:

  1. You’re more than a résumé or profile. No one can judge who you are and whether you are what they’re looking for solely on a piece of paper or online profile. Ask yourself what relevant information does your résumé not convey, and consider how you can integrate that into your interview conversations.
  2. You’re moving on for a reason. Be self-aware enough to be able to comment on what that reason is. If you are looking for a job, you are likely either currently unemployed or unhappy in the position you currently hold. Make sure you can speak about this reality in a thoughtful and meaningful way.
  3. Know why you think you two would be a good fit. “I think you’re cute” doesn’t count. Make sure you can clearly articulate what draws you to a particular organization and role, and why you think that you are the best candidate for the position. In the words of one of our panelists, “What is your passion, and how does it coincide with our organization’s mission?”
  4. There’s nothing quite like a handwritten note. After an interview there is little to no follow-up, so a handwritten thank you note is universally appreciated. The content doesn’t need to be flowery or verbose; the fact that you sent it speaks volumes.
  5. Setting people up is messy. If someone puts in the time and effort to set you up for an informational interview with an individual they think may be helpful with your search, be respectful. Give them (and the people you’re meeting with) the courtesy of preparing by researching the individual’s background as well as the organization they work for, and bring questions to ask. 

I am not the first person to recognize the connection between these two worlds–checkout Mad Grad, and for other amusing commentary on the topic–but the fact remains that few people, if any, relish the thought of going through the job search. However, with advice from those we respect and intentional practice we can all become more confident and effective in our search for “the one.”

What have you learned from your own job search? What is some of the best (or worst) advice you've received about interviewing?

A huge thank you to the following panelist for taking time out of their busy day to share their hiring experiences, insights and knowledge to help frustrated, yet eagerly hopeful young nonprofit professionals:

Allie Moen Wagstrom, Program Director, League of Women Voters MinnesotaAmy Sinykin, Associate Director, Charities Review CouncilChris Cohen, Executive Recruiter at Chandler Group Executive SearchGretchen Dykstra, Human Resource Lead, Northwest Area FoundationHeather Riddle, President & Owner, Hourglass Temporary Staffing for Nonprofits and Senior Foundation Officer, Children’s HospitalJessica Turgeon, Director of Organizational Development and Visitor Services, Minnesota Children’s Museum; Judith Alnes, Executive Director, MAP for NonprofitsKatie Nelsen, Vice President of Development, Animal Humane SocietyKristin Prestegaard, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Minneapolis Institute of ArtsLori Sterner, Workforce Development Manager at Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota

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