The Fundraising Recruitment Universe - as a candidate, how do I get started?

Getting a job in fundraising has never been easy, but the coronavirus outbreak means it could be harder than ever. In the first article of our new recruitment series, Ryan Burdock from Prospectus helps you get back to basics and shares tips that could help you find your next role.

Written by
Ryan Burdock
August 27, 2020

SOFII knows that, right now, fundraisers are facing difficult times. If you are looking for a job, you probably feel overwhelmed, anxious and unsure about how to find a new role during a global pandemic. By launching this new series we want to show you our support, and we hope that the information shared is useful to you as you navigate what may feel like a very unfamiliar job market. 

But we also want to hear from you. 

Have you had a positive or negative experience of trying to get a job during the coronavirus crisis? Has lockdown, furlough, or a changing work environment posed challenges in your current role? Have opportunities to move internally felt daunting too? 

We would love to share your stories, in the hope of helping other fundraisers with their own job search or progression during this crisis. So please do feel free to tell us your thoughts. You can e-mail or leave a comment on this article below. 

Now, over to Ryan ...

Even before our lives were turned upside down by coronavirus, it wasn’t easy being a candidate entering the fundraising job market. Taking your first steps into a sea of job boards, searching for connections via your networks, and crafting a stellar CV were all slightly daunting to say the least. 

Now, add the impact of everything that has happened in 2020, and there are even more important issues to consider. But fear not, today we start off by providing some straightforward tips and ideas to ensure you are maximising the time you use on your job search and giving yourself the best chance for success.

Here are our hints on how to search for a fundraising job during times of crisis:

· Your CV/resume – Ensure it is uncomplicated and clear. No photo of you, no mention of your age, your gender, your ethnicity, your economic background, your children or marital status, or any other protected characteristics, for example. Your CV should be achievements focused, short context of the organisation if needed, and do focus on the ‘I’ of fundraising – if you led a team to a success, make this clear too.  

· Think about your non-negotiables – salary, location, cause? Be clear with yourself on what will and won’t work at the beginning rather than only considering these things at offer stage! 

· LinkedIn – update your profile, find an appropriate picture, request recommendations from previous colleagues, be active (add posts, etc.), and engage with colleagues across the sector. Begin building your network or enhance your existing networks as you embark on a job search. Request to join special interest groups, for example.  

· Join events; be seen, build connections - learn, listen and develop your opinions – this is how you will stand out at interview! The ability for events to appeal to a wider audience (and not those only based in London and accessible to those able to build an event into their working day) mean for a richer, more interesting, and more diverse event calendar. Virtual events are much more accessible now – this is great for you for a number of reasons. One is that you can join from home and fit these into your normal working day without nearly as much time/energy/expense committed. Another is that the increased accessibility means that people can join from all over the country (and further afield even), rather than only really being accessible to London based attendees. This makes for a richer, more interesting, and more diverse event and also overall event calendar for you to choose from!

· Job alerts – you may want to keep this broad to begin with to get a sense of the market and to spot any micro-trends from the sector. Review and understand as many job descriptions as possible and then narrow your search down to roles that really fit your expertise and interests.  

· Speak to recruiters – or HR or line manager contacts in the sector – to get advice. Are you going for the right roles, are your ambitions/expectations in the right place? Others can be useful in giving you new ideas or looking at things in a slightly different way.  

· Ask questions – get in touch with the recruiter or the line manager if you need to – there is no harm in asking. It shows you’re keen and can only help you with your application 😊  

· General advice is to use the essential criteria on the JD (job description) to guide your applications – you need to give your best examples of success for each of these. Be clear and concise, no waffle. Always show your interest in the mission and values of the organisation – show off your research!

· Always read ‘how to apply’ closely and follow the instructions. Job hunting/applying for roles will take up lots of time – don't waste it by not following a process correctly.  

· Preparing for interviews – prepare STAR (situation, task, action and result) answers relating to the essential criteria. Prep carefully for the questions: ‘Why this role, why this organisation, why now?’.  

· As cringey as it sounds, this is a chance for you to find out whether this is the right role for you just as much as the organisation are trying to find out if you are the right candidate. So, be prepared with questions and get the answers that will help you decide. The organisation’s social media channels are useful, free resources to learn specific bits of information about programmes, policies, and focus areas of the organisation.

· Evaluate afterwards – was there anything else you wanted to know? Anything you could have done better? Help ‘future you’ for the next interview process you find yourself in. Remember to request feedback. If you are not successful in your application for a role, don’t be tempted to just forget about it, learn from the process and make your next application/interview stronger.

In the fundraising division at Prospectus, we will always make time for general conversations and are happy to act as a sounding board as you go into interviews – whether that is through us a candidate or if you have secured the interview elsewhere. While this list is by no means exhaustive, if you have these bullet points ticked off as you head into your search and interviews, you’ll remain as focused and cause-driven as you can be in when meeting interviewers, and by extension know you’ve delivered as strong an interview as you can.

Good luck!

Stay tuned for more articles in this series which will go into more detail on the fundraising recruitment landscape and how it has been impacted by the pandemic.

Prospectus will be hosting a fundraising webinar on the 16th September at 9am, where they will be discussing how to maximise the impact of your board’s fundraising engagement. You can find out more and sign up here.

You can also find out more on the Prospectus website.

About the author: Ryan Burdock

Ryan Burdock

Ryan Burdock is the Associate Director for the Fundraising team at recruitment specialists Prospectus, based in London, UK. Ryan’s career in the beyond profit sector began in Chicago, USA, where he recruited for a variety of fundraising and beyond profit positions. Ryan specialises in recruitment for homelessness, social enterprise and arts focused organisations. Passionate about social equality and opportunity, Ryan is a trustee of United AllStars, a sports engagement charity working with at-risk youth in Camberwell and Peckham to help them overcome social and economic barriers to success.

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