Having worked in the association space for 25 years, I am contacted regularly by folks seeking employment opportunities in the nonprofit industry. I receive any number of questions about what it takes to get hired, so I offer a few quick ideas on how to engage and be successful in the process.
First and foremost, if you’re not currently employed in the association industry, but eyeing senior level positions, it can be difficult to be considered for these positions. The association industry (for better or for worse) considers itself a unique profession and is very insular in some ways. The folks in the association world are fantastic and we enjoy incredible relationships, but we often find ourselves working within this impenetrable association bubble. This can prove to be a barrier to entry for anyone looking for their first association job at the higher levels.
So, how should you move forward?
#1. There are a couple of key job sites to focus your search, including CEO Update (ceoupdate.com), which is a great publication and a great resource for senior-level career openings. This publication also has a mid-level job component, which can be found at associationjobs.org. Another excellent resource is the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) – asae.net, which has a jobs site as well.
#2. Use your network to connect you with relevant positions. It’s really your only chance to be noticed. Once you find a few opportunities, it’s critical to find someone in your network connected to the association world. Utilize their association expertise to connect you with the association directly. Getting traction with an unsolicited resume or through a job listing is difficult. You need an inside track to get the initial interview.
#3. Your resume must showcase a record of success. This process is going to be hyper competitive. It is critical to tell the association how you have kicked ass! Too many times, I see great people with resumes that are a chronological series of job descriptions. Gain attention by bragging a bit – and, it isn’t bragging if you did it!
I hope these tips are helpful to you. Sic ’em
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