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What follows is an annotated transcript of notes taken before and during a telephone call I made this evening. For other posts in this series, see the archive.


[Organization Name & telephone number] 3 May, 2006.

Follow-up. No contact (save an e-mail) since I traveled to B last week. [My contact] said he would call by Monday, May 1, but no call yet. The circumstances of it were that they intended to decide by Saturday, before [the boss] went on vacation for two weeks.

Did they?
If not, why not?
When should I expect to hear from him, then?

[Begin notes taken in conversation]



Sorry. I have drunk more than my share of wine tonight. It took me a while to get the frontpage/single article transition to work correctly, with comments and all…

again, sorry to hear this…

You need not say it again, J. I know. And as I said to you earlier, me too.

For now, I must attend to bedtime.

I’ll say it one more time: Poopy!

This sucks. I’m sorry.


So while I was busy trying to get off the telephone, S, the guy I talked to most, tried explain their decision. I wasn’t listening all that carefully, and I really wanted him just to shut up and say goodbye. (He was pretty poor at the latter, and kept going on about, “If there’s anything we can do,” and “You will do someone a lot of good someday,” which he repeated several times and added something akin to “Wish we could have had you,” to which I replied, “Well, you could have.”—But, I digress: eventually, he did hang up.) S said that they decided to hire someone with more experience at this particular job.

The job, I can say now, was in development: a bit more responsible than a grants officer, but not quite as hairy as a development director. It was grant writing and gifts fundraising, a field which they knew I’ve no experience in. Presumably, they were interested in me not because I was experienced, but because they thought I might be able to learn the job and do it well, particularly as a grant writer. I thought so too, but I admit I would have needed quite a bit of training early on.

What’s most frustrating, then, about their excuse (which, certainly, may have been just an excuse and a bad one at that), is that it suggests I never had a good chance at the job because they really wanted someone who knew it already.

What I want to know, then, is why waste my time and their money flying me to MT for an interview? What could they possibly gain by talking at length to someone they know doesn’t have the experience they’re looking for? I mean, this is a decently-funded, but certainly not a rich grassroots, nonprofit organization. To fly a job candidate they’re less sure about seems counterproductive, a waste of resources that ultimately got them nothing.

Most suprising about it all is how incongruous it is with how I felt about the interview. I still think it went well given that I was interviewing for a career change and was still mid-process of familiarizing myself with both the organization’s issues and with development jargon. It irks me that I was being judged by the experience token when my experience ought to have been entirely the point: presumably, I represented something they liked in spite of it.

The biggest problem is that because all of my apps are career-change apps, I have to figure out how to overcome this problem of experience or I’ll never get past this stage of the process.

And I tell you now, it really sucks to get called in for interviews over and over and over again only to find out you’re being passed up because you didn’t put out quite enough to overcome experience’s lack.

i’m really sorry to hear that. i know you must have felt crushed. mb and i have probably been rejected for 70+ jobs between us in the last four years, and it never doesn’t suck.

in what fields are you looking in addition to grantwriting/development?

i say we stick with fields we know: cat grooming, grass cutting, coffee drinking, nose picking, whatever.

With the tornado and all your situation must feel Joban at times. Sorry to hear about that.

Thing is, neither of us is any good at cat grooming or grass cutting by ourselves, so we have to branch out into communications and publications jobs, anything that emphasizes writing and rhetoric; for both of us, preferably for civic-action nonprofits. Which means I’m back to reading MyIdealist every morning….

JH: Joban, or Ezran, where you return home to discover home’s not what you thought it would be.

I’m not sure how comforting it is to hear from a gainfully employed person that she has been there and knows how you feel—having been there, I seem to recall that it was not, or wouldn’t have been, so great. (Although mostly I never seemed to meet such people—everyone I met during my years of un and underemployment seemed to have become successful with great ease and despite their general lack of intelligence.) But for what it may be worth, I do know how much it sucks. It got to the point that I pretty much wanted to shoot everyone who had told me it didn’t matter what I studied in college or grad school, because, after all, I’d have all this intelligence and could presumably be trained to do whatever the job might require.

I also don’t suppose it will help to say that someday someone is going to realize how smart and talented you both are and leap at the opportunity to hire you. I do think that’s true (and I spit in the general direction of those who haven’t realized or acted upon that realization). And I (and I am sure others here and elsewhere) will go on believing that, even if there are moments when you can’t.

L, and everyone: this past month, more than any other time in my life, I’ve learned how to take for granted the kindnesses of family and friends for what they do and say and profess out of charity and love. For what you say I am thankful, and I don’t second-guess the position from which you say it. Indeed, if you’d not gone to library school, we might still be bemoaning our woeful employments regularly at the Mill. That’s the value of a practical degree, and I’m all about seeing the benefit of practical degrees these days! I can’t begrudge you your job. I’m comforted enough that you remember what it’s like, and that you won’t be like those I know who, after years of work and increasing wealth, repress that memory and thereby impoverish their souls. My peeps, poor as you may be, are rich by comparison.

I know that you have no clue who I am, but I linked to your blog from Greg Kendall-Ball’s blog. I am not sure exactly what type of position you are looking for, but I have worked for non-profits in the past and wanted to share a hint about how to get some of the experience these non-profits are looking for.

If you are interested in grant writing, pick a few small local non-profit organizations and offer to locate and apply for grants for the organization. You can also offer to help administer the grants. This can all be done for free or you can do it for a percentage of the total grant received. Either way, you get experience. (And you never know; you might end up doing so well that you start your own grant writing business!)

This idea applies pretty much across the board with any aspect of a small non-profit. If you have a skill for writing, offer to write publications, etc. Non-profits will generally be more than happy to have the help.

I know that all of these ideas take time, which doesn’t help when you are looking now. However, maybe it will help you in your overall career goals.

Best of luck in your job search.

ST: Much of what you say is wise and heartens me, a little, because earlier this week I came to the conclusion that targeted volunteering was the most likely way to get the experience I lack.

That said, grant writing wasn’t my original direction in this application; I had applied for a communications job, and they asked me to apply for their development position. That’s one reason (among others, including getting my hopes up too high) why this particular interview was such a heartbreaker, because for upwards of two months, they made googly eyes at me; but of course, they chose ample hips and heavy breasts, the better for raising progeny, over the lifelong adoration and devotion from a homely stick girl like me.

I know that the ups and downs of a job search is tough. Try to stay positive and focus on the fact that you made enough of an impression (with no experience) to be worthy of a plane ticket while you were competing against someone with experience. Having been teh person responsible for the hiring at a non-profit, I think that speaks VERY highly of you. That doesn’t make it any easier or any less frustrating for you, but it still speaks volumes.

Besides, homely stick girls must always keep the faith!

Another option that I thought of in terms of gaining respect in the non-profit world is to try to get on a Board of Directors. It may sound crazy, but there has been a push to get younger people on Boards in an attempt to mentor them and train them to become leaders and board members. Many areas have special leadership programs that work with local non-profits and will place you on a Board of Directors. You might see if this type of leadership mentoring program exists in your area.

Also, I don’t know how you feel about politics, but I had a good friend gain experience working on a political campaign. She then landed a great PR type position at a pretty good size non-profit.

Okay, I will quit giving my unsolicited advice, especially since you have no clue who I am. Best of luck in your job search. Keep the faith and trust God during this faith-building time.

Not knowing who you are, ST, doesn’t mean I can’t see the wisdom in what you say. All will take time, and we have a move to prepare for very soon. Nevertheless, I will bear it in mind. Many thanks.