3 Things to Look For When Reviewing Advancement Office Resumes
By: Brian Jensen March 12, 2020
I have now been involved with private Christian institutions for two decades. During this time I have seen firsthand the significant importance of donor development work, and it has only increased in significance as the direct costs of private education have continued to rise. The work of your advancement office is crucial, and good hiring decisions for these teams should be a high priority.
Finding great advancement staff is not easy though, and it is particularly challenging to find high capacity chief advancement officers. These teams need to exhibit deep wisdom, model biblical stewardship, develop authentic relationships, and demonstrate patience and resolve—just for starters.
Where do we even start? When beginning to filter through early candidates for fundraising jobs, here are three simple things I have in mind when doing a first glance at resumes.
Previous Employment Longevity
You don’t necessarily need a lifer that will stick with your institution for the next 20 years, but job hopping for an advancement officer is usually a bad sign. Development work is relational work. You need someone who can stay in one place and cultivate relationships for a few seasons before they may see significant traction. There are always personal stories that may have played into someone changing employers more often, and these should be considered, just make sure to do your homework.
When it comes to concrete successes, development work has a number of key performance indicators that can be used to show quantifiable results. Yes, you can look at funds raised, but look for more than just the dollars. Can the candidate show increased dollar amounts in portfolio responsibilities over time? Can they demonstrate donor pipeline growth? Do they identify average monthly donor contacts, first time and repeat? Of course, as mentioned, this work is deeply relational and more than just quantifiable metrics, but seeing a few of these things on a resume will be helpful.
Attention to Detail
Maybe this should go without saying for any resume review, but I think there should be a heightened awareness of this when looking at potential development team staff. Not only is attention to detail extremely important in a development office, but advancement work relies heavily on communication, oftentimes through written word. Does the candidate’s resume exhibit attention to details and does it communicate effectively? Does the resume present itself well as a first impression of the candidate? These things will give you a good indication as to how they might interface with your donors and potential donors.
There are numerous other factors that play into hiring great development team members, but these simple tips will give you a good start when reviewing resumes. Finding top talent for your advancement team can be challenging at times, but it is important work as your institution focuses on meeting current needs and establishing a sustainable future.