Robin L. Cabral, MA, CFRE, MFIA
Leveraging Social Media to Advance Your Fundraising Career
Throughout the past twenty-five years of my career, I believe that one of the most significant changes has been the move from work being something highly personal and relational to now being plugged in and digital all of the time.
The pace of modernization has been brought to the forefront by technological adaptations, the like of which we have never before seen. This exponential advancement has sped up the pace of work and how business operates to such an extent that our offices no longer have solid and defined boundaries.
The pace of modernization has also changed the way we relate to one another. Once we were largely anonymous, and the only way that someone could rise to mercurial stardom was catching the attention of the media through TV, radio, or other traditional means. Press releases were issued to announce news items that organizations and others wanted to promote, and the noteworthy were often featured in digests such as “Who’s Who,” among many others.
Research was done in libraries to find names of note, and it was only through the grapevine that we learned who was who in important networks. Vast sections of the country were unknown. We lived in more isolated social, regional, and even local islands.
Business was conducted by those known in a geographic area.
Gone are those days!
And, they slipped past us right before our eyes.
Today, we can connect with others across the country and even across the globe as if they were in the next neighborhood. This social transformation has happened at such a rate and has become so ingrained socially that it was as if we blinked our eyes, and it happened overnight.
In years past, our resumes were the only thing that represented our “mark” in the world and our accomplishments.
Today that has all changed.
Where does your Fundraising Resume Fit into Today’s Digital World?
Gone are the days that your resume was king! It used to be the only way that you could apply for a job and grab the attention of a prospective employer.
Years ago, your resume was the only summary about you, and you had absolute control over it.
You could add or omit as needed.
That was all there was about you.
It was your career advancement workhorse. Today those days are gone.
That said, “old fashioned” resumes still hold an important place in the recruitment field; it’s just that now they are accompanied by a host of digital possibilities as well. When an employer has to sift through hundreds of applicants, you want your resume to stand out and call attention to your skills, so that at least you advance to the top of the pile. However, it doesn’t end there.
Google is Your New Fundraising Resume
The internet rules over resumes. Today there is a new resume in town – Google.
Virtually all recruiters look at your social media, and more than 57 percent have rejected applicants based on what they have found. Bad grammar, gross misspellings, anything you lied about on your resume, bad-mouthing of previous employers, etc. will all go against you.
Sometimes (44 percent of the time), employers will offer someone a job because they liked what Google turned up about them, such things as creativity, professionalism, expressing yourself well, personality, etc. all of those soft skills that are hard to measure on a paper resume.
In 2018 a Harris Poll for Career Building found that about 47 percent of employers indicate that if they can’t find a social media presence for someone, they won’t bring them in for an interview.
Your resume does still have a role, but it is not the center and forefront of the job search market any longer. The primary function of your resume in this new digital age is to get you enough attention to get an interview and to get you in the door.
Creating a Digital Fundraising Persona that Stands Out
So, if traditional resumes are no longer the front and center of your professional career, how can you create a digital presence that makes you stand out?
Here are the steps I recommend to clean up your digital act so that you get noticed by your networks and by those considering you for your next job. Today, you have, at times, the greatest control of the impressions that you create and, at other times, minimal control.
Determine What You Want to be Known for as a Fundraiser
How many times have you googled yourself and looked at what is currently out in the digital world about you? I would highly recommend that you make it a strong practice to google yourself at least once per month. Read over everything that the search engine pulls up. Then turn your attention to the plethora of social media sites out there, i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
Determine what adjectives you want to be known for and analyze what is currently out there about you. What do you find, and which information is contradicting the impression that you want to give?
If at all possible, remove items that contradict what you would like to be known for. You can scrub some sites like Facebook and Twitter, but others such as Google indexed searches are much more difficult.
Ways that You Can Build Your Online Fundraising Profile
Areas that will have the most impact on job searches are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. LinkedIn is mostly seen as a networking site for professionals, and this is often where prospective employers, clients, and peers will seek you out first.
When it comes to social media sites, be sure that you have your profile filled out completely and that you cross every T and dot every I. Check spelling; errors can be deadly.
How to Make LinkedIn Your Fundraising Best Friend
LinkedIn is the site of first resort for employers and is the Swiss Army knife of job sites. It is so powerful that it is a tool used by over 500 million people, with 133 million located in the United States alone. It is one of the most useful tools for job hunters, and this is the place where most employers start their employee search.
Here are a few tips that you can use to make LinkedIn work for you:
- Don’t get into the habit of sharing minor profile edits.
- A photo is mandatory. Be sure this photo is a high-quality head shot or equivalent.
- Be sure that your profile headline has the main keywords that you are seeking to be known for.
- Past jobs or experience must tell a story of how you did things! List your skills.
- The summary section should list what gives you a competitive advantage.
- In the specialties section list the keywords that will get you picked up by search engines. Also, include things such as hobbies, interests, education, training, etc.
- Use your profile as a portfolio of your work by including links to your website if you have one. Consider adding a video from YouTube and upload samples of your work.
- Join related LinkedIn Groups and be an active contributor.
Google is Your New Fundraising Resume
To get recognized and indexed by key search engines like Google, you need to grow your overall presence beyond LinkedIn by expanding your web-based footprint.
To do so, I urge you to become active in online forums and groups, including those on LinkedIn.
Don’t just lurk on these networks. Contribute and be seen as a specialist.
Consider using WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace to start a blog. Update it regularly. Share actionable tips that others will find interesting. Google indexes and other search engines continually crawl the web, and blogs are one area that you can update regularly and include SEO-specific fundraising keywords to get your blog indexed and ranked in online searches. Also, consider using hashtags. Google indexes by Twitter hashtags and savvy employers know how to do advanced Twitter searches based on specific relevant hashtags.
And, don’t forget the all-important YouTube, the king of Google search engine crawls (did you know that Google owns YouTube?). People respond to video, and YouTube is no exception with its 1.5 billion monthly users.
Yes, You Should Still Enhance Your Paper Resume
You can still do something with your paper resume. Consider spiffing it up and posting it on the internet. There are plenty of job boards that will allow you to upload your resume, such as Indeed.com. And, search engines, as well as employers, sift through these job board sites on the off chance that they will find a candidate for an open job position.
Consider all of the sites that employers may use to post open positions, such as CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, or, again, Indeed.com. Just remember that on these sites specifically, employers will have to look through on average 219 resumes.
Master the Digital Fundraising Career Advancement World
When working in the digital world, here are a few handy tips to keep in mind.
- Don’t include stuff that would help someone find out where you live or work, if you are blanketing the internet.
- Don’t send a resume solely by email; send a nicer version by mail. You will likely stand out more.
- Please pay attention to the paper you print it on. The feel of the paper means everything to a prospective employer!
- Use bond paper of at least 28lbs. Make sure it’s easy to read and has a nice-sized font of at least 12 or 14 pts.
- Every item on your resume should have a purpose, and that purpose is to get invited for the interview.
- When updating your resume and online profiles, ask yourself: “Will this item help me to get invited, or will this item seem too puzzling or off-putting, or even a red flag?”
- Unless it’s expressly a plus for the job, such as where it relates to the organization’s mission or culture, don’t mention disabilities or issues – focus initially on what you can do. Save your challenges for the moment when they say they want you.
- Don’t use jargon language.
- Be sure to use keywords when posting your resume. Remember, everything is searchable and indexed these days. Rank high!
- Don’t include references on your resume and, when you’re asked to provide them, be sure to get their permission first!
- And, lastly, remember that some employers hate resumes because 82 percent of them have to be checked out. Some love them because they offer an easy way to cut down on time. Hiring is an elimination game!
Boiling It All Down
There is no doubt about the importance of not only having a tip-top resume and cover letter but now to also have an active, professional, and indexed digital footprint. These days, your resume is a tool to get you the interview. The resume keeps you in the game.
Hiring is an elimination game. What could get you eliminated is the presence of anything that makes you look bad online, including Google searches, Facebook, or LinkedIn. The possibilities of being found are endless, and constant vigilance to maintain a professional online brand is key to moving up the career advancement ladder.
Technology keeps advancing at a pace that few of us can keep up with. Gone are the days when we were known only obscurely. Today, for many of us, our private lives are on show, not to mention our professional ones.
And, while impression management was once the realm for only celebrities, today it is for all of us. If you want to advance up the fundraising career ladder, then you must rethink your traditional ways of operating when it comes to self-promotion, not just for a new job but for your reputation overall.
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