Dusting yourself off after a career setback

Howard Lake | 10 February 2021 | Blogs

“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek.
If you’ve ever felt your fundraising career hasn’t just been derailed but the train has run off the tracks into a quagmire of quicksand, you’re not alone.
Tens of thousands of charity jobs were lost in the UK during 2020. Layer in an avalanche of furloughs and it’s no wonder many fundraising professionals no longer feel at the wheel of their own careers.
While no one can predict when the world will return to pre-pandemic normalcy, we can’t forget this situation (like most scary ones) is temporary. We will move forward. We will feel secure in our jobs again.
If you’re out of work or just feel in general like you’re spinning your fundraising career wheels, stay motivated and on track with these tips.

1. Don’t let your negative thoughts spiral

When we’re in an uncomfortable situation, it’s easy for panic to take hold. Negative career thoughts can creep in like a Babadook you can’t evict, keeping you up at night and robbing you of joy in all corners of your life.
Remind yourself of your many career highlights. Write them down. No win is too trivial to record. You’ll likely be surprised at your list of past victories. It will become clear that you have a formidable track record of working smart, securing funds, and building key relationships.
If you catch your thoughts going to a negative space, recognise that it’s happening and refer to your list of wins. Negative thoughts can wear a rut in our mental state so it’s important to divert our thinking to upbeat moments to avoid creating a deep mental chasm of self-doubt.

Take what you need - poster on a brick wall

Take what you need. Photo: Pexels.com


2. Use small wins to set goals

It’s long been known we are most fulfilled when we are making headway towards a goal.
A 2019 TED article espouses the transformational power of “small wins.” These are the little moments of success that keep you motivated and the dopamine flowing. Don’t underestimate the ability of smaller-scale achievements to lift your confidence and spirits.
Create a checklist of achievable wins. Once you’ve set your goals, track your progress against them. This could be to read three books on fundraising in the next three months, attend 10 fundraising webinars in the next 60 days, or participate in five virtual networking events in the spring.
Remember, a solid goal is measurable and time-bound.

3) Earn a certification

If you find yourself with time on your hands to study, pursuing a certification now can help ensure you’re ready to pounce when the job market picks up again.
When funds are tight, it may feel indulgent to pay to earn a professional certification. However, a certification should be viewed as an investment.
The pounds you pay upfront are likely to come back to you many times over in your working life.
A certification can give you an advantage in beating out the competition on the job hunt as well as providing valuable leverage to negotiate for a higher salary.
For example, the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification is a globally-recognised, accredited certification. One component of the CFRE is an exam that measures your knowledge of fundraising best practices across six key domains. Working towards a professional certification will not only help you identify and remedy gaps in your fundraising knowledge but give you a worthwhile goal to work towards that makes you more marketable in the future

The tide will turn

If your career feels more trough than peak, don’t forget a peak might be closer than you think. In the meantime, keep your thinking focused on productive, positive thoughts and use any extra hours to work towards professional goals that will position you to return to the workforce with a roar.

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