By Jessica Gershuny
Every year we make New Year’s resolutions to invest in ourselves. Some we plan to keep and most we forget come February. In 2013, I made a commitment to invest in my career and it inspired me to quit my job, explore new industries, and pursue my MBA.
As many of my colleagues and YNPNdc friends will tell you, I do “career stuff.” I’ve recruited for nonprofits, provided career counseling, and led numerous workshops on professional development. But even with my experience, becoming a job seeker was challenging and at times, downright nerve-wrecking. I want to share a few recommendations on approaching your search and finding professional fulfillment this year.
Search with Pride
Whether or not you are employed, you bring a lot of value to the sector and are an expert in something. Desperation and self-deprecation are major turn-offs, and displaying said qualities will actually limit or hinder the relationships you are seeking. Demonstrate your pride and professionalism when communicating over email, at networking events, and when you receive rejection letters. Respond with a thank you to those canned rejection emails, and know that you are worth a conversation and an opportunity even when your inbox and voicemail are empty.
Network with Purpose
The point of networking is to learn and connect. While searching, I made a list of hundreds of companies and peers that I could reach out to. From there, I wrote tailored emails about why I wanted to connect and asked for a call or Skype session. Truth: you don’t need more than twenty minutes to share your values and interest, and the recipient will appreciate your respect for their time. Of those twenty minutes, I let the recipient talk about themselves for fifteen minutes. My plan was to listen and determine my attraction to the organization and potential fit. I never directly asked for a job and ended conversations and relationships that I felt were unproductive.
No one is going to hand you the perfect job or conduct the job search for you. It’s up to you to dedicate hours in your day for networking and the job boards. (In the recruiting biz, we call it passive and active searching.) Write down your plan of action and stick with it. Send it to your friends and ask them to check in on you. (Thanks to YNPNdc’s Professional Development Committee for having my back!)
Finally, Know Your Worth. Any nonprofit professional will tell you that we don’t do it for the money. For me, my compensation package includes salary, benefits and quality of life.
This is my quality of life mantra:
- I deserve the opportunity to lead.
- I deserve the opportunity to be trusted.
- I deserve a working environment that is respectful to my values and what I hold dear.
Know your quality of life mantra, and I wish you all the success in 2014.
Jessica Gershuny is a career development professional currently supporting graduate students at Georgetown University. Jessica worked as a recruiter for the nonprofit sector and led a start-up careers program for a million member network. She serves on the YNPNdc Professional Development Committee and is a level three mountain climber. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter @Jessicas144.