In my last blog Deception of Confidence I addressed cautionary considerations and tactics when sizing up an advancement officer candidate. There are many tools at your disposal to do this. After reading the post, a colleague, who is seeking a new position, asked what about sizing up an organization or advancement team that candidates are interested in joining?
It is a sellers’ market for talented and accomplished advancement officers. So you are well within your rights to request information that may not typically be available to candidates in your effort to assess a future employer, the advancement team and the supervisor to whom you would report.
If you are being recruited by, or are working with an executive recruiter, s/he should serve as a good resource of information for you. If they have done their job correctly the recruiter will have interviewed senior management and volunteers, the supervisor and some advancement staff. The recruiter will have a profile of the advancement operation, its accomplishments and the financial stability of the organization. They should also have an understanding of the staff turnover trend and that of the supervisor.
Your questions should dig deep, especially if you are well along in the recruitment process. So if you want answers that the recruiter may not be able to answer, there are ways to get under the surface of websites, newsletters and financial statements.
With the availability of LinkedIn, it is now possible to track down former employees of the organization and supervising executive. You can reach out to them and get their input and constructive critiques. Just search on the organization name and wade in to find current or past advancement staff members. Drop them a note and see if you can speak with them. Check out the length of their employment tenure at the organization and see if there is a trend of short engagements.
It is advisable to speak with some of those who would be your colleagues and who report to your future boss. You can discuss questions like:
* How staff performance is measured;
* Frequency and nature of staff meetings;
* Value placed on teamwork;
* The organization’s culture of philanthropy;
* The depth to which the organization mission resonates with staff, volunteer leaders and donors; and,
* Their experience during their onboarding when they started at the organization.
Strong advancement talent is hard to find, so it behooves you to know as much as you can when considering a jump to another organization. Fortunately, there are better tools all the time to help you do this.
2. Make a list of those questions you want answered as part of your due diligence.
3. Use social media and the phone to gather intelligence.
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