PMA Consulting, LLC

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What is Your Brand as a Non-Profit Search Candidate?


Branding is a hot topic in the business world today, as every company is looking for ways to stand out in a competitive and often flooded culture. While branding is important for businesses, it is also important for individuals seeking employment. The job market is also overflowing with qualified candidates. For candidates in these environments, the question becomes, “How will I stand out among the competing applicants?”

At Patton McDowell & Associates (PMA), we help our clients and candidates find the right solutions for their non-profit needs. Based on our experience with our search service line, we recommend that those seeking employment in the non-profit sector focus on building a personal brand as a candidate in the non-profit world. Potential employers need to understand who you are and why you are different from the pack. Whether you are new to the non-profit sector or consider yourself to be a “seasoned” applicant, here are some ways that you can build and expand your personal brand:

  • Social media connections – Social media is the newest and fastest-growing way to connect with your community. Becoming active on Twitter and LinkedIn can increase your visibility to potential employers as you share knowledge and expertise on key topics. But, remember this, what you post online follows you for life. Be wary of posting pictures of yourself doing keg stands or getting arrested for a good cause, as employers will check your online presence.
  • Speak the language – If you do not have any non-profit experience or maybe have solely focused your career in one area, then expand your professional word bank by reading non-profit publications. Some online examples include The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Philanthropy Journal and our own PMA blog. Knowing what a 990 is and other non-profit terms will enhance your interviewing skills and transition to a new job.
  • Volunteer involvement – Show your commitment to the non-profit sector by committing your time, energy and resources to a non-profit organization. Whether you are aiming for an executive director role or an assistant position, your respect for the non-profit sector is shown through your involvement. Not only will the organization benefit from another volunteer, you will also benefit by gaining experience and exposure with a new group of people.
  • Education & certifications – A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that 55% of HR professionals anticipate an increased demand for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in the next 3-5 years. Over 40% of that same group expects an enlarged need for advanced degrees, and 32% foresee a greater demand for specific post-secondary certificates and credentials. If you have the time and resources, then you should consider going back to school and/or making time for those critical certification courses.
  • Relevant knowledge – A strong candidate has good experience and relevant knowledge about his or her community, region and non-profit organization. In our PMA experience with interviews, candidates that can relate examples from personal experience and connect those to community issues stand out among other applicants. No matter how you get your news headlines every day, make sure you are staying current with what’s happening in your city, state and non-profit community. It may make the difference for you in your next interview.

What is your brand as a candidate? Based on your online presence, how might a potential employer describe you? Take the time to map out how you will increase your brand as a non-profit search candidate in the next 90 days.

Check our PMA site for the latest job postings.