It's not what you know, it's...
April 16, 2009 11:34 AM   Subscribe

How do I go about inquiring about working for a company who's Director of Communications is on the executive board of the non-profit I currently work for?

I am currently working for an arts/culture non-profit. I'm young (recently out of college) and work in development. I feel that my background/skills/interests are perfect for a much larger, for-profit company whose Director of Communications (and thereby official spokeswoman) serves on the board of directors of my current employer. Is there an appropriate way I can use this connection to get a job at the larger company? Without my current employer finding out about it?

I have considered approaching our own rather well-connected Director of Communications, who is not my boss in any capacity, to see if she might discreetly inquire about a job at the larger company. Or is this just horrible form? I don't want to lose my current job and my shot at a new job. Do I just send off my resume and cover letter, unsolicited? I feel like I'd be shooting myself in the foot by doing that.

Advice? Experiences?
posted by Lutoslawski to Work & Money (2 answers total)
Do you have a nice, reasonable boss? If so, go through her. Sit down with her and tell her you would like to Talk About You Career. First, ask her what she thinks your strengths are, and then transition into something like, "you know, I think you're right, eventually I would love to work for a Company like X." Eventually is key. At this point you are not asking her to help you get a new job. This is just laying groundwork.

The point is, you want to enlist your boss, instead of going around her. Make her your ally/mentor. This is your first job out of college, so you don't want to start out by making an enemy. Feel her out. Depending on how open and receptive she is, you might even mention to her that you're interested in working in communications and ask her to set up an informational interview with that Communications Director.

Put in some good time on this current job. At least a year. Get some accomplishments under your belt, and learn as much as possible. If you want to stay in the arts/culture field, it certainly won't hurt to have fundraising skills. Once you feel like you have enough good experience to move on, go back to your boss and nicely tell her that you are thinking about looking for a new job. Make it clear that this has nothing to do with your current job, but just that it's time for new challenges, etc. This shouldn't surprise her - no one who hires someone right out of college expects them to stay forever. But if you get your boss on your side, do a good job and are honest with you, she'll probably help you out.
posted by lunasol at 12:04 PM on April 16, 2009

There's nothing wrong with networking with a respected colleague, or asking them to be your mentor... See if you can schedule an informal lunch or coffee meeting, or even a meeting at the Board member's office if they're just unable to get away. While that's not exactly like asking for a job, it will help you understand more about the role, the company, and the pros and cons of both. Further, the relationship with the Board member could help you get a foot in the door when an appropriate job opportunity arises.

In this economy, it's all about who you know. Unless you're miserable, take it slow, build a strong network, and you'll get where you need to be.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 12:10 PM on April 16, 2009

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