Diana's Big Move: I got a job offer! Now what?

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You got an offer! Party time. Almost. (Photo by Robyn B. via Flickr/Creative Commons)

Disclaimer: this is not my cat. If I had party hats at home, I would post a picture of my own cat wearing a party hat. Why? I got a job offer!

I was in the middle of writing a blog post about how my original timeline was naively optimistic. Back in March, I hoped I’d move from applications to a job offer in three months or less (patience is not my strong suit). As of a week ago, my few promising opportunities seemed to be fizzling and it began to look like I would need to start my search over from scratch.

Then, one magical day, I received a reference request. And a few days later, I got the job offer.

Things to consider before you accept

As relieved as I was, I took some time to think carefully about the offer before giving a response. If you find yourself in a similar situation (congrats!), here are some factors that you may want to consider:

  • Salary offered (specifically if, like me, you’re new to a city – how does the cost of living add up now?)
  • Whether the benefits package suits your life situation
  • Whether the position offered is in line with your chosen career path
  • The organizational culture; after your interviews, can you really see yourself working successfully with your potential colleagues?
  • Day to day details such as the work itself, the commute, the schedule, etc.

Only you can decide whether the offer truly fits your needs and your circumstances – and whether you want to join the organization at all. If you feel that any part of your offer warrants discussion, speak up! I’m not a negotiation expert, so if you need tips, take a look at the Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-time Job Seekers, specifically the chapter entitled Closing the deal: Understanding benefits and the art of negotiation.

If you end up accepting (like I eventually did), congratulations!

Still searching?

I know a lot of you out there are still searching Idealist and other job boards daily and trying hard to find work. Thank you to everyone who’s followed along with this series – your cheers, constructive criticism, and honest advice were invaluable.

I received 52 comments and emails in response to this series. Of those, 17 of you mentioned the emotional toll of the job search (“frustrating,” “burnt out,” “discouraging,” etc.), and 24 of you shared words of encouragement (with me or with fellow commenters). So if you’re struggling through the job search, I hope you’ll consider that as evidence that you’re not alone! Find people to talk to; find a group to volunteer with; heck, maybe start writing a blog. I wish you the best of luck.

Signing off for now

As for me, I’m on to my next professional adventure. My first day is in two weeks! I’d like to offer a heartfelt thank you to the team at Idealist for letting my share my journey here. Here’s the whole series:

The job search begins

The applications continue…

The first job interview

Learn from my job search mistakes

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Diana's Big Move: The job search begins

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After lots of trips from New York to Boston, I'm looking forward to getting settled. Photo: Rob Pongsajapan, Flickr/Creative Commons

A new series exploring one Idealist’s search for her next career move.

Hi, I’m Diana. We met recently in the post about Idealist’s Community Support Team. My coworker Kim and I answer all of your calls and emails about the site.

A confession: For the last few days, during every conversation I’ve had with a job seeker, I’ve given them a mental high five, and sent off an extra little prayer to the universe that things go well for them. Why? Because I’m in the club now, too.

I love Idealist and I’ve loved working with people like you, but life is taking me away from New York and I’m officially looking for a new gig. As I began tackling applications, a few things dawned on me – insight that I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t, y’know, work at Idealist.

Here are some of the discoveries I’ve made so far:

1) If you’re currently employed, consider telling your manager you’re looking. Maybe.

Idealist is an open, supportive place to work, with open, supportive leadership. My managers know I’m searching, which is helpful because I don’t have to scramble for references and I won’t have to fake a stomachache to go out of town for an interview. If you’re lucky to be in a workplace like mine, you might want to disclose your decision to move on relatively early in your process.

But clearly this is not an option for everyone. Make sure you weigh the benefits against the potential risks. In her post Choosing an end date when resigning, Alison Green of Ask a Manager writes:

“Your best bet is to pay attention to how your employer has handled other employees who resign. Are people shown the door immediately? Pushed out earlier than they would have otherwise planned to leave? Allowed to work their full notice period? In any case, don’t assume that you control the selection of your last day once you give notice…”

And keep in mind that life isn’t all carefree after you come clean. While I had a hunch Idealist wouldn’t fire me just for announcing my intentions to move on, spreading the news has been nerve-wracking for other reasons. What if Idealist hires my replacement, and I still haven’t found anything? What if my move falls apart at the last minute? Before you give notice, be sure you really, really want to make this career move. Idealist’s tools for career self-assessment can help.

2) Research, research, research.

  • Even if you’re not moving, find out what organizations or companies are most active in your region and see if you can find your professional niche in that area. Is your city a haven for museums, or hospitals, or biotech? You may end up playing a similar role in a wildly different organization.
  • What are your salary requirements? If you are moving, find out how much should you expect to make. Don’t get turned down for demanding a Manhattan salary in a city with a drastically lower cost of living. I found CNN Money’s Cost of Living calculator to be especially handy. You can also see a breakdown of salaries by company, location, and title at Glassdoor.com (you may have to join to see the information you need – they give you a month for free, and offer you unlimited membership if you contribute anonymously to their database).

3) Sweat the little stuff. Seriously.

After working here I will never, ever copy and paste a form cover letter because I know it always shows. Tailor your cover letter and your resume specifically for the job to which you’re applying. Find out as much as you can about the organization or company you’d like to work for, and tell them honestly why you want to work for them and why you’re qualified for the position.

Stay tuned.

I’ll check in every now and then to update you my progress, and I’d love to hear from you, too. I’m in a unique situation since I can write so publicly about this. If you prefer not to comment publicly here, please feel free to write to me at diana [at] idealist [dot] org to share your struggles, your victories, a story of that kick-butt interview answer you came up with. We’re in this together.

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Three reasons not to post your resume online

Amy Potthast served as Idealist’s Director of Service and Graduate Education Programs until 2011. Read more of her work at amypotthast.com.

“Can I post my resume on Idealist? How do I post my resume on Idealist? Why can’t I post my resume on Idealist?””

In my five years working here—chatting, writing and teaching about nonprofit careers—countless community members have asked these questions. Here’s why we don’t host resumes on our site:

1. Resumes should reflect position descriptions.

We don’t host your resume because employers should never see a generic resume from you.

Your resumes (plural) should each be almost mirror images of the positions you’re applying for. They should reflect your experiences with the roles, qualifications and job duties the hiring organizations seek, and the issues they champion. See Chapter Eight of the Idealist Guides to Nonprofit Careers for tips (p. 142 if you’re reading the guide for first time job seekers and p. 146 in the guide for sector switchers).

As a hiring manager, I love it best when an applicant’s resume tells me that they were born for this job or internship. A generic resume will never do that.

2. Resumes should not open you to identity theft.

We don’t host your resume because we don’t want to encourage identity theft.

Professional, non-financial identity theft involves using the details of another person’s professional and educational background to gain employment. Perpetrators can access your personal information in plenty of ways – including information you post about yourself online.

Listing specific details of your current and past employment online (including your contact information, accomplishments, references, awards and professional memberships) opens the door to professional identity theft.

 

From Flickr user Yasuhiro (Creative Commons)

3. Resumes should not invite spam.

We don’t host your resume because while we want to promote connections among our community members, we dislike spammers.

In the current job market, it’s unclear how many worthy organizations are browsing online resumes in search of people who haven’t bothered to apply for the organization’s openings.

However, it’s very clear that spammers are always on the look out for people to pester.

Conclusion

Posting your resume online may seem like hedging your bets: you can’t possibly know about all the openings out there, so maybe it makes sense to post a generic resume, just in case your dream employer discovers you that way. The risks of such passivity are professional identity theft on one end of the spectrum, and spam on the other.

In fact, worthy employers who post job openings in the current job market are inundated with worthy applicants. The best way to get their attention is to send your perfectly-tailored resume directly to the hiring manager. Read more about presenting yourself on paper.

And take note: if you have a crush on an organization that’s not currently hiring, connect with them in the meantime through social networks. For example, on the newly relaunched Idealist, you can connect with an organization as a fan of their page. Then you won’t miss out if and when they do post a new job listing.

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