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What Are the Biggest Challenges of Today’s Nonprofit Job Market?

I've been in the same position for 20 years and am thinking about starting a job search. What challenges should I expect to face?

Out of the Loop

Congrats on your decision to pursue a new job after 20 years. It takes courage, perseverance, and a great attitude to thrive in today's job market. Here are a few things you might expect to find:

(1) More Supply, Less Demand - If you've opened a newspaper in the last few years, it's no secret that there are fewer jobs and less job security than before the recession. With more people from all industries seeking work in the nonprofit sector, there is more competition for an overall fewer number of jobs. This can be especially true at management and director levels, where there is a large population of talented people who have been laid off later in their careers.

Note: the one area within the nonprofit sector where this is constant demand is fundraising and development. If you've excelled in program, financial, or general management within the nonprofit sector, or sales or business development in the private sector, you may want to consider options in this function.

(2) Gen Y and Millenials as Managers - It probably wasn't too long ago that your first boss wore a tie to work and had a few gray hairs. Today, many managers and directors are in their late 20s and early 30s. For some, it may take some getting used to reporting to someone who was born when you were finishing high school. It's important that you don't let ego get in your way here, as well as stay mindful of the liabilities associated with discussing age in any capacity in the workplace.

(3) Frequently Long and Intense Hiring Processes - While there are some positions that are secured over lunch and a handshake, most hiring processes are taking longer than ever before. This is not just because the competition for jobs is steeper, but also because every hire a nonprofit makes is a critical investment of resources. For that reason, you may expect to interview between 3-5 times depending on the role, as well as complete a work sample or exercise as part of the process. Rather than seeing this as a burden, try to appreciate that nonprofit organizations are getting savvier about their hiring processes in order to make sure they are making the right hires.

These are just a few of the conditions that you might find when you get back out there. By being flexible and responsive to the demands of today's job market, you may find that you not only land a great job, but also learn something about the trends and practices of nonprofit hiring in the new economy.

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This article was written by Dana Hagenbuch.