Rarely does anyone start a career and end it in the same place. Professionals move around and at each stop develop new skills that will further propel the career. Ok, so maybe fundraising wasn’t the plan.
Melissa Neeley, development and marketing coordinator at Arms Wide Adoption Services in Houston, Texas, did intend to become a fundraiser. Lauren Futch, associate director of development at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) did not plan on it. She was pre-med and then worked on Capitol Hill.
Neeley and Futch presented what they learned about job searches and career development during a session “Career Moves For Young Professionals,” during the recent Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual international conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Neeley said her first loves are small shop development and marketing. She interned with nonprofits during high school and college and received a job offer on the day she graduated college. Futch’s first job was mostly annual giving. She moved to Houston and after a job that wasn’t the right fit transitioned to a shop known for its leadership and has reconnected with her original passion: healthcare.
The told the audience that when it comes to opportunity you have to define your future. You have to decide if the role I your dream job and if you are being challenged. Being challenged means new opportunities and new skill sets. You also have to determine if your organization is headed for success. Is it a collaborative environment and are resources available?
You also have to make judgement about an organizations leadership, they said. An organization’s leadership should be a key factor in a career move. How your leader values their team and contributes is a great indicator of culture. Questions to be answered include: Do leaders make an investment in you and is there a clear path to leadership with defined opportunities.
Two this to think about are when not to quit and when to not do what recruiters might call job hopping.
They counseled to never quit when you’re angry, if you need a break, after failing, when you need the money or benefits, with no job in hand or if you hate your role, but love your organization.
When planning a career move, try to move into a role with the expectation of being there at least two years. The good news is that the length used to be much longer with three to five years as an expected minimum. The bad news is that some hiring managers come from the generation where four to five years minimum was the norm.
They told the audience, if you have been job hopping recently, be sure to have reasons to explain why in interviews. It makes potential employers wary, but as long as you have good reasons to speak to job hopping, it’s not a deal breaker.