5 Common Fundraising Resume Mistakes

How do you make a more compelling fundraising resume?

Recently I was helping a couple people with their resumes and cover letters. They had both been laid off unexpectedly, and while they looked, they realized that they hadn’t had to look for a job in a long time. They hadn’t kept their resumes up to date and when they came to me they had a lot of work to do.

Here’s 5 common mistakes, and how we fixed them.

1. First, we took off anything that was over 10 years old on their resume. People aren’t necessarily going to want to see that.

2. Then we took off anything irrelevant to their field. One of them was looking for a job that had to do with writing, and put at the top of their resume that they had finished National Novel Writing month successfully 4 times in a row. It was nice that they had done that, but it wasn’t relevant for any jobs they were applying for.

3. Then we looked at how to get them metrics for their resumes. They both had never had to look at what their metrics were before. They had some vague descriptions of what they did underneath their old job titles, but they both did a LOT of work in a very short timeline, and did have actual metrics to back up how hard they worked. And those metrics were nowhere on that resume.

So we added those. We also bulleted their job highlights under each job.

4. They both had summaries at the top, which I took out, because I didn’t really think they were important. Summaries about what YOU are looking for are not as important as what the employer needs.

5. What hiring managers look for

What the hiring manager is going to be looking for is; Does this person have gaps in employment? Can they do the job? And do they have the required education and experience for this job? Make sure, on your resume, that you have no gaps in employment, put your education at the top, and show how your job titles have risen in status and tasks. For example- Development Assistant to Development Associate to Development Officer to Development Director to Executive Director.

What if you have NO fundraising experience?

How can you relate unrelated experience to the fundraising world? How can you make volunteer experience seem relevant? And above all, how can you convince hiring managers to give you a second look when they probably shouldn’t bother with a first one?

Here’s how you do it.

If you don’t have any fundraising experience, how can you put metrics on your resume?

Well, you can’t. But you can emphasize your qualities that will make you a good fundraiser that you’ve gotten from previous jobs. See the resume below.

As you can see from this example, they want to become an event manager, and they’ve emphasized a few of the qualities they bring that would make them successful at that job.

What if you’ve got that crucial fundraising experience, but you don’t have a good resume?

Here’s how to make your fundraising resume better.

METRICS. DATES. And begin with a headline that shows how many years of experience you have, and how much you’ve raised. That looks more impressive, and makes you stick out more.

Age Discrimination is real. What do you do about it?

What if you’re worried about age discrimination? What if people are going to view you as too old to get this job?

You can get a gmail address, which looks younger than a hotmail or yahoo or aol account.

You can leave off work experience past 7 years ago. Trust me, nobody cares.

You can also leave off hobbies that would make people see you as older, like, “Playing with my grandchildren.”

To avoid age discrimination, get a certificate or second degree. That will make it look like you just graduated.

Unfortunately, once you get to the interview, there’s no hiding how old you are. And I was talking with a fellow consultant about this recently. He said,

“I saw the writing on the wall years ago. People are going to discriminate against you, either for being too young, too old, or too something else. So, think of it like a gig economy. You have to be always looking for your next gig. You have to think like you’re self employed, even if you aren’t.”

I’d say that’s pretty accurate. You know that in an at-will environment, you can be fired at any time for no reason at all. So, you have to keep your resume updated, make sure your metrics are excellent and up to date, make sure you note how much was raised before you came versus after, and you can definitely do all you can to show you’re committed to lifelong learning. That will make you seem like a valuable asset for any fundraising team.

Was this helpful? Is there anything else you’d like to add about how to write a better resume?

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