Alexis creates, edits and manages content on idealistcareers.org. As a lifelong nonprofit professional with nearly 18 years experience, she’s eager to offer job seekers, game-changers and do-gooders actionable tips, career resources and social-impact ‘lifestyle’ advice!
Please could you give our readers a quick recap of how you came to be Editor of Idealist Careers?
Although I started my post-graduate school career in the public sector (working in public policy and workforce development in New York, USA), I quickly shifted direction in search of more creative work. Without any paid writing or editing experience, I had to rely heavily on personal projects, volunteer work and pro-bono opportunities to develop my portfolio. After more than a year of building up my resume in this way, I was able to land my first job as a content manager and staff writer for a fantastic nonprofit organization. From there, through a few positions at different companies, my trajectory has shifted from writing and content management to focusing on writing and editing. I’ve been the editor for Idealist Careers for nearly two years and I feel incredibly lucky to have landed a job with such a high level of autonomy and room for creativity.
How is Idealist Careers unique and what makes your company so successful?
Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org, offers passionate and driven social-impact professionals and job seekers the largest online collection of high-quality, inspiring and useful social-impact content. We have expert insight into the intricacies of the job search from the perspective of the job seeker as well as that of hiring organizations and we use this intel to create the most useful, free content around. We are proud to feature the voices of nonprofit professionals and social-impact experts from across the sector. As far as social-impact careers, professional development, volunteer opportunities and internships, Idealist offers nonprofit professionals a long-standing gold standard.
How does working for a non-profit organization vary from other businesses you have worked for?
I think it’s important to remember that the nonprofit sector is just as varied as the public and private sectors with large and small organizations, bureaucracy and autonomy, flat organizational structures and hierarchies, great salary and low wages, etc. The best thing to do is take all of the old cliches you may know about the nonprofit sector, and throw them out the window.
What recruiting topics do you enjoy writing about the most?
I love offering nonprofit professionals and job seekers advice on creative ways to build and expand upon professional experience. When trying to figure out how to break into a particular sector or land a job without much experience, lots of people fall back on volunteering and kind of stop there. But there is plenty more that a job seeker (even a job seeker with a 9-to-5) can do in order to build legitimate experience and a knowledge base.
What is your one piece of advice to a job seeker who is having trouble securing an interview, let alone a new job?
It’s time to reassess your strategy. Everything should be fair game for a mid-job search audit. Have you been using the same resume for a while? It’s probably time to freshen it up (and give it another once over for any errors or typos). Is your cover letter six paragraphs long? See if you can streamline it and edit it down to three.
Some other things you’ll want to take a closer look at:
- Your network: Have you tapped them and let them know that you’re looking? And if so, have you done this in a genuine way or do you usually only connect with people when you need something?
- Your work: Do you have a user-friendly online portfolio that is readily available so that potential employers can browse your work (without having to ask for a work sample)?
- Your digital self: Check all social media platforms where you have a presence and make sure that things are either private (not visible to potential employers) or only highlight the types of things you’d want your grandmother (or your future boss) to see
- Your mental health: Are you balancing your search with other things that you’re excited about? If you’re unable to carve out some time for something that puts you in a true “flow” state, that will come through in your written and verbal communications, and should you land an interview, it will likely come through there as well
Finally, what’s your proudest working accomplishment?
Getting the Idealist Careers contributing writer program off the ground is my proudest working accomplishment. When I joined Idealist, I was given the opportunity to design and launch a new team of freelance and contributing writers. I absolutely loved the freedom that I was given to start something from scratch, launch the program, and continue to manage it moving forward. A year and half later, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with an amazing variety of writers while also tightening and adjusting our program and processes to make it even better!
Alexis Perrotta is an editor, writer and communications professional who is experienced in sharing stories and reaching people across a variety of platforms including web, social, print and email. She has a particular affinity for brand voice development and a firm understanding of the nuance involved in creating the right content for a variety of audiences. You can check out her professional website here