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Landing the top spot.

The CEO of a national organization entertained the board's long-range planning committee one Saturday night in his home. It was an evening of friendship enjoyed by everyone. On Sunday morning he walked into the committee meeting and was confronted with termination. No clues, no warnings.

True stories like that tell it all. Always be prepared for a job search. Noteworthy performance and spectacular results do not provide absolute job security. A written contract provides some cushion if it includes a reasonable severance package, but severance can't cushion the emotional trauma of a sudden termination, whether it's your decision or the board's.

How do you protect your interests and control your career growth? How do you find that next challenge? Get the best career insurance policy: Be prepared.

Your resume

Being prepared means your resume is terrific and up-to-date. A resume that isn't a strong marketing tool can doom your job search, so get some help before you need it. Then revise your resume with each new achievement or change.

Invest in help from an executive resume development specialist; many focus on nonprofit organizations and are not resume mills. They charge $75 or more per hour, but three or four hours and $300 may be all you need to shape up. Most resume experts work with clients by phone and mail, if you can't find one locally. ASAE also offers resume writing programs, and allied societies around the country periodically sponsor seminars and counseling sessions.

Resume format is still a big issue. Professional executive recruiters usually prefer the chronological format, but some experts recommend a functional style that describes skills, knowledge, and achievements in terms of major areas of experience.

Letters and interviews

A crisp cover letter that responds directly to your understanding of the hiring organization's needs is as important as the resume. Again, working with a professional to develop some basic cover letter approaches is well worth the investment. Get help on interviewing skills, too: You'd be surprised how many people shoot themselves in the foot in the initial screening or final interview process. Often, professionals expert in resume development also can help you sharpen interviewing skills.

If you have left an organization and negotiated a severance package, your package may include professional outplacement. Guidance in resumes, cover letters, and interviewing are services outplacement firms provide, along with office space and secretarial and other support. However, negotiate outplacement provisions so that you retain control over how those dollars are spent. Reserve the right to select the outplacement firm that will best serve you.

Recognize that you, like most top executives in nonprofit management, have been too busy managing and building organizations to learn the basics of resumes, cover letters, and interviewing. You can market your organization's cause or services but probably not yourselfbecause you've never had to. Read Rites of Passage at $100,000+, by john Lucht. Lucht is an executive recruiter retained by top companies to find upper-level talent. His book has advice on cover letters, resumes, and interviewing. He also unmasks the mysteries of executive recruiting.


Between January and September 1991, in searches for CEOS for 256 nonprofit organizations of all sizes and from all over the country, 25 percent retained an executive recruiter to search. More to the point, the really top jobs-those at the $100,000-plus level-involved recruiters more than 50 percent of the time.

It's important to understand the role of executive recruiters. They don't find jobs for people. Clients pay recruiters to uncover talent that otherwise would not come to their attention.

Because executive recruiters play a role in finding the very best jobs, it pays to know how to deal with them. Lucht's book is one resource. Another is The Career Makers, by john Sibbald, another professional recruiter. His book lists the top 200 professionals and their specialties and tells which regularly conduct nonprofit organization searches.

Here's some basic advice:

Got on the call list of at least one recruiter. Make a list of executive recruiting firms active in nonprofit searches. Ask friends if they know people with these firms and whether they've ever been contacted about a search. Most recruiters know dozens of good resources whom they regularly contact for candidate suggestions. Let those friends who are resources know you would appreciate your name being mentioned as an additional resource.

Be responsive when a recruiter calls. He or she will ask whom you know who would suit the job. If you are interested, indicate that, but only after providing the names of two or three other truly qualified people.

Establish connections. If your organization will benefit from using an executive recruiter to hire senior staff, do so. Or you may be close to board members who periodically need the services of a recruiter. Most do corporate as well as nonprofit searches. When appropriate,

r to ma e introductions. Creating a client relationship between an executive recruiter and your member-or your association-is an investment in your own opportunities.

Do favors. Occasionally, a good friend may discretely mention interest in finding a new challenge. Offer to forward your friend's resume to executive recruiters you know personally. You may benefit from an appreciative friend and an appreciative recruiter, and it keeps your name in front of the recruiter, too.

Pay attention to succession. If you know someone nearing retirement or planning to move on, ask him or her and a recruiter you know to breakfast or lunch. Providing the recruiter an opportunity to get to know an organization that may be a prospective client is a remarkably successful way to market yourself.

Avoid frustration by knowing the score. If you are in between successes currently unemployed-your attractiveness is substantially diminished. A recruiter who includes more than one unemployed person on the final slate of five candidates appears not to have done much the client couldn't by simply placing an ad.

What do CEO opportunities look like for the next five years? In February 1991, CEO job Opportunities UPDATE collaborated with Paul Belford, president of Association Executive Resources Group, Arlington, Virginia, to survey 800 Baltimore-Washington trade associations and professional societies with budgets exceeding $500,000 per year. Using retirement and normal tenure data, the survey showed there would be at least 120 CEO openings per year for the next five years in these 800 organizations.

Gale's Encyclapedia of Associations lists nearly 4,500 national or international nonprofit organizations in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. If the executive turnover in all of these nonprofits, including disease and cause related organizations, matches the survey, there will be more than 650 CEO openings per year in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Nationally, the figure could be more than 3,000. And that doesn't include openings in 47,000 state and regional nonprofits.

So, is it tough out there? You bet. But opportunities will be there if you prepare the tools, contacts, and knowledge to make yourself a top candidate.

Career Resources

ASAE is one of the most active executive recruiters in the industry, completing more than two dozen search assignments annually. More than 60 percent are for CEO positions.

ASAE Consulting Services can assist you with hiring, outplacement, salary administration, and other human resource issues. For more information about any of these services, contact Bob MacDicken, vice president of Human Resources and Executive Employment, at (202) 626-2790.

The Jobs

Positions in Washington, D.C. Of 256 openings, 34 percent were in the Washington, D.C., area. Compensation ranged as follows:
$200,000 and above, 2 percent
 150,000-$199,999, 4 percent
 100,000-$149,999, 24 percent
$ 80,000-$ 99,999, 28 percent
$ 60,000-$ 79,999, 18 percent
$ 50,000-$ 59,000, 24 percent
Positions Nationally
And 66 percent were in other areas
of the country. Compensation ranged
as follows:
$200,000 and above, 2 percent
 150,000-$199,999, 3 percent
 100,000-$149,999, 10 percent
$ 80,000-$ 99,999, 23 percent
$ 60,000-$ 79,999, 24 percent
$ 50,000-$ 59,000, 38 percent

COMMENT: For executives seeking opportunities at $100,000 and above, the action is in Washington, D.C., where 30 percent of CEO openings fell in that range. Only 15 percent of openings in other parts of the country did.

All table figures are drawn from 256 CEO-level job openings, 106 of which were filled between January 1991 and September 1991.

The Incumbents

Previous Experience

How many of the 106 CEO jobs were filled by nonprofit professionals? Hires fell into the following categories:

* CEOS from other nonprofit organizations, 46 percent.

* Individuals from industry, 18 percent.

* Senior staff from other nonprofits, 15 percent.

* Promotions from within, 14 percent.

* Individuals from government, 5 percent.

* Individuals from academia, 2 percent.

Selling Points

What were the characteristics of people hired? Women took 35 percent of jobs filled. Of the 106 positions, women who were

* CEOS in other nonprofits filled 19 percent;

* senior staff elsewhere filled 7 percent;

* from government, academia, or industry filled 6 percent; and

* promoted from within filled 3 percent.

Men took 65 percent of the CEO jobs. Of the 106 positions, men who were

* CEOS in other nonprofit organizations filled 27 percent;

* from government, academia, or industry filled 20 percent;

* promoted from within filled 11 percent; and

* senior staff elsewhere filled 7 percent.

COMMENT: People currently employed in nonprofit organizations took 75 percent of the jobs. Men and women have a nearly even chance to move from senior staff in one organization to CEO of another organization, but women are not as likely to be promoted to CEO from within.

The Organizations

Types How many people were hired by what sort of organization?

* Trade associations hired 47 percent.

* Cause-oriented organizations hired 30 percent.

* Professional societies hired 16 percent.

Foundations hired 7 percent.

Who hires whom

Does the source of a new CEO vary according to the type of organization? (Figures for foundations are not broken down here.)

Trade associations hired 34 men as CEOS: 14 were CEOS elsewhere; 9 were from industry, 7 were promoted from within; 3 were from government; and 1 was senior staff elsewhere.

Trade associations hired 17 women as CEOS. 7 were CEOS elsewhere; 3 were promoted from within; 3 were from industry; 2 came from government; and 2 were senior staff elsewhere.

Professional societies hired 12 men: 5 were CEOS elsewhere; 3 were senior staff elsewhere; 3 were from the profession; and I was promoted from within.

Professional societies hired 7 women: 4 were CEOS elsewhere; 2 came from the profession; and I was senior staff elsewhere. 0 Cause-oriented groups hired 17 men: 6 were CEOS elsewhere; 4 were promoted from within; 2 were senior staff elsewhere; 2 came from the profession; 2 were from academia; and I was from government.

Cause-oriented groups hired 14 women: 7 were CEOS elsewhere; 5 were senior staff elsewhere; I was from academia; and I was promoted from within.

COMMENT: Cause-oriented groups hire women more readily. That's worrisome because these groups, especially those related to women's issues, typically pay CEOS less than other comparably-sized organizations. These groups should be leading the way in pay equity.

Speaking From Experience

Douglas M. Kleine knows firsthand the value of tenacity and initiative in job hunting. In a letter to ASAE'S Executive Employment Service he said:

IT really appreciate your support and advice over the last year and a half. I knew it would take time to jump from number two to number one in another association. The Soil & Water Conservation Society presents a new challenge in a new field. And it has a mission that I can really commit to. That's important in a job.

Tell folks who are searching there are no shortcuts. There is little qualitative difference between job hunters who succeed in two months and those for whom the search takes two years. The difference is the time to find the job you fit best. Don't wallow blame, or be overly proud. Instead, seek help and support and it will be freely given-just ask.

'I'm proud to be a member of the profession. I only regret that I didn't become active years ago so that I could have shared more and found good friends sooner.'
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:DeBolt, Don J.
Publication:Association Management
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Previous Article:Human resources evolution.
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