Is "social media" on your resume?


Image via Gavin Llewellyn, (Flickr/Creative Commons).

12.12.2011: The bullets in this post have been updated to include the percentages of social media jobs (out of all jobs posted on Idealist) each year.

Fellow Idealist Jeremy and I recently ran a little test to see how frequently “social media” appears in job postings on our site. Here’s how many listings have included the phrase over the last several years:

  • 2007: 25 jobs, o.01 percent.
  • 2008: 125 jobs, 0.27 percent.
  • 2009: 507 jobs, 1.67 percent.
  • 2010: 2,115 jobs, 4.98 percent.
  • And in 2011 so far, 3,467 jobs, or 7.7 percent of all jobs posted this year.

Curious what the very first jobs to include “social media” were? Reaching all the way back to November 2006, we found four jobs from three trailblazing organizations: a Content Producer at WGBH Educational Foundation; a Social Network Designer-Manager at Games for Change; and two web developer jobs at Feminist Majority Foundation.

When I was hired in 2006, there are at least a few people on staff who were creating social media, but I don’t think they would have called it that. For example, our editor Eric checked all of the copy on our site, but he also served as a curator of news about the nonprofit sector and posted articles from around the world every day. He was blogging before we had a blog. Now social media weaves naturally into the jobs of many folks here, whether they’re writing emails for multi-channel campaigns, blogging here, or using social networking sites to learn about and grow our community.

Questions for you, dear readers:

  • What has this evolution looked like at your organization? Is your organization so new that the majority of your work takes place through social media, or have you spent a lot of time convincing people of the value of this type of engagement?
  • Are blogs, social networking sites, and other social media included in your job description? How much of your work time do they consume?
  • If you’re a hiring manager posting one of those 3,400+ jobs, what matters to you with regard to filling those roles? How do the best candidates showcase their experience in this area?

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Returnships: A win-win in the nonprofit sector?

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

People face challenges in returning to work after a career break – especially parents of young children. The resume gap, rusty job skills (real and perceived), and the cost of childcare during the job search process are just a few of the bumps in the road.


On-ramp photo by Scott Hingst (Flickr)

Enter the Returnship

Returnships are part-time, paid internships for people “on-ramping” after a voluntary career break – not so much looking to launch their career as to jump back in. The concept offers these benefits:

  • The pay helps transitioning parents offset the costs of childcare
  • The professional experience allows them to renew and update work skills and habits, and add something recent to their resumes
  • The schedule gives them and their families time to adjust to a new normal at home
  • And the host organization’s supportive parenting culture offers career relaunchers a soft landing.

Family Forward Oregon, a nonprofit that advocates for a more family-friendly economy in my state, is currently offering two six-month Returnships that focus on fundraising and event planning.

According to Sharon Bernstein, the organization’s co-founder, one of the trickiest aspects of navigating the career transition when you have small children at home is setting up affordable, high-quality childcare during the job search process – before a pay check starts coming in. The problem is tougher with more than one child (greater expense; harder to find another stay-at-home parent to swap childcare with; etc.). While the Returnship stipend may not fully cover childcare costs, it helps.

Different from an internship

What distinguishes Returnships from paid internships may be more in branding and attitude than substance. Good internships, after all, are more about the intern’s educational needs than the organization’s productivity.

But the name Returnship invites a different segment of the intern market to apply; and organizations with cultures (not just policies) supportive of parenting are beacons of light for modern parents who constantly feel the double tug of family and work.

Is it time for more nonprofits to embrace the idea?

Returnships seem to have more of a history in the business sector. The Sara Lee company pioneered the concept which is now simply integrated into the company’s hiring process. Goldman Sachs has also developed a Returnship program.

For the nonprofit host, Returnships could attract people who were once established in their professional roles and may bring more expertise than a less-experienced intern. Returnships could also offer organizations a way to connect with a broader, more diverse workforce—highly ambitious people who may want to work part-time—ideal for some nonprofits looking for top talent on a tight budget.

Have you participated in a Returnship (even if it wasn’t called that)? Does your nonprofit offer opportunities for people on-ramping after a voluntary career break?

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Career Corner: Three Questions, Two Qualities, One PowerPoint

Advice for job seekers from Meg Busse.

At our Nonprofit Career Fairs these past few weeks, I’ve been doing presentations about how to find a nonprofit career. One of main topics of discussion has been how to make it easy for an employer to see the value you could bring to their organization. To this end, here is a great framework to use.

From Dani Lurie (Flickr/Creative Commons)

3 Questions

There are three questions that every employer (not just nonprofit) wants candidates to answer:

1. Can you do the job?

2. Will you do the job?

3. Will you fit in?

The first question is answered by your resume. This is where you show that you have the skills and experiences to actually do the job that you’re applying for. It’s why making sure your resume meshes with the requirements on the job description is essential, and why you really do need to do a unique resume for each job you apply for.

Your cover letter is where you answer why you will do the job. This is your story about why you will work 50, 60, or 70 hours a week, wear multiple hats, and view this as not just a job but as meaningful, long-term work. The cover letter is not about rehashing your resume but about putting a personal face to your application.

Finally, organizational fit is essential. Most nonprofits are small, so it’s important that each new person “fits” with the current staff and the organizational culture. This is something that is assessed during the interview and should be just as much a question of whether the hiring team thinks you fit, as whether you feel the organization and position match with what you’re looking for.

For more information on these three questions, this chapter will help.

2 Qualities

The two qualities that you need to clearly convey when applying for a nonprofit job are:

1. Passion for the mission of the organization

2. Clearly communicated, relevant skills

For these two qualities, it’s not either/or; candidates must both demonstrate a passion for the work and be able to hit the ground running when they start a new job.

1 PowerPoint

As I mentioned, these have been some of the most talked about points during my career fair presentations. For these, I have a standard power point that I offer to share with attendees after the event. Obviously, some of the slides will be confusing without my verbal talking points. However, there’s still some good info to be gleaned if you’re interested. Here’s the link.

Feedback, comments, and suggestions are always welcome!

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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