This week I am writing about the lessons learned from Stefanie Weiss and Stefanie Cruz, two leaders at America’s Promise Alliance. Stefanie Weiss is the Vice President of Communications and Knowledge Management and Stefanie Cruz is the Senior Director of Digital Strategy. They both discussed their work in the field of communications and nonprofit work, and gave tips for how social workers can market themselves and get involved in digital communications.
First of all, its important to recognize that this field has probably changed the most out of any field in the past 20 years. The way we communicate today is drastically different than it was one generation ago. We have cell phones, email, social media…and we want and need to connect faster and more effectively than ever before.
At America’s Promise Alliance, “communications” refers to pretty much anything with words; speeches, blogs, publications, media, outreach, websites, fundraising, reports, events, social media…almost anything that is naturally embedded in nonprofit work. Digital communications plays a really important role in creating and building a community as well as a useful tool in bringing awareness to initiatives and campaigns they run. Digital communications plays a huge role in connecting with partners and others in our fields to share best practices and participate in national conversations.
The more that digital technology expands around our world, the more of a role it plays in our organizations. Nonprofits need people skilled in communications and technology, and ultimately skilled in listening, strategic thinking, project management, and executing thoughtful work. Both Stefanies discussed how important the listening piece is, as well as strategic thinking and planning. Communications take times and effort, and often nonprofits may need a whole team assigned to this one aspect.
How Can You Leverage Communications to Market Yourself?
When discussing application advice for people applying to jobs in the nonprofit communications field, each Stefanie had something different to share: one values cover letters, the other values resumes. On one hand, a cover letter can be extremely important. Make sure there are no silly typos and that is is written clearly – this reflects your thinking skills. Make sure its geared toward the job you’re applying to, not a template that you completely reuse. On the other hand, having a resume that indicates that you care about the issues that they work on – even volunteer and internship experience – is just as important. The structure of your resume is also relevant…is it consistent and clean? This can prove strong organization skills and attention to detail.
Another thing to consider is, are you persistent? Will you reach out on LinkedIn? Send emails? Can you express yourself and your interests in a compelling and persistent way? Of course there is a fine line between “pestering” and “showing persistence”, but it never hurts to reach out if it feels right. Both Stefanies agreed that they are much more likely to consider a candidate who comes referred. So use your network to connect with people.
Remember: You bring unique value to the organization you want to work for. Knowing your own skills and what you bring to the table is key. Stefanie stated they she keeps in mind that hierarchy does not determine the value that someone can contribute. Having many diverse people be a part of the development and voice of an organization is the only way to make that voice fair and true.
Whether you’re just starting our your career, or switching careers, you can bring value to an organization. Figure out what that is, believe in yourself, and put your value and strengths into words.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch the Career Series with Stefanie Weiss and Stefanie Cruz, I encourage you to take a peek. They offer great tips on leveraging communications and social media and how these tools can assist organizations in creating lasting social change.
Don’t miss our next Social Change Career Series on April 20, 2107 at 3pm ET/12pm PST where our featured guest will be Lakeya Cherry, Executive Director of the Network for Social Work Management. Sign up here to watch it live: http://sisgigroup.org/careerseries.