One of the questions that we ask people who are applying for a job at The Helen Brown Group is this:
What single project or task would you consider your most significant career accomplishment to date? Walk me through the plan, how you managed it, how you measured its success, and what the biggest mistakes you made were.
It’s not an out-of-the ordinary question but I love the results.
You can always tell the candidates who are proud of something they’ve done. Regardless if they achieved a relatively small task like redesigning a profile format, or if they completely reorganized a prospect development shop, you can see them sit up taller in their seat. They visibly brighten. Some get right to describing it from the very beginning, and others get tongue-tied because they’re so excited to talk about it.
It is impossible to miss their pride.
Their excitement pretty much amps up the wattage in the room. When I hear people walking me through the steps describing their proudest accomplishments, I have to say that it has an infectious element to it – I can’t help but feel pride, too. Pride for them, as well as a general personal joy in how cool our profession is.
Pride comes from doing something that makes life better for having done it. For our profession, it usually comes from dreaming up a project, mapping out the plan, executing it, quantifying success and documenting the trouble spots to avoid next time. Pride is results-based. You have to put in the time.
Fortunately, progress in prospect development is pretty easy to quantify. We can plan and manage new projects that will move fundraising forward. We can measure how many prospects were identified. How many of those prospects went on to make major gifts. How many profiles we’ve written. How many new prospects were rated and assigned. And on and on.
We can look at what we’ve done over the past year or the past five, or the past campaign, and decide what worked and what didn’t. What we’d do better or differently.
Research Pride month is a celebration of all of those individual and collective projects that move our department, our profession – and our organizations – forward. It’s kind of hard to feel a sense of pride if you haven’t really accomplished anything. Or don’t feel as if you have.
I can tell you from personal experience, the room always goes a little dimmer when a candidate can’t come up with something that they’ve done that has made them proud. I doubt it’s that they really haven’t actually accomplished something worthy of pride – it’s more likely that they just haven’t taken the time to document a project’s steps and success. Or at least, I always hope so.
Pride is results-based
Documenting your achievements is important, for yourself and your career advancement, to help give you a sense of accomplishment. But it’s also important because it’s a way to show others what is possible. We prospect development pros share our achievements with each other and help our colleagues avoid our mistakes.
As Angie said last week, our collaboration begets innovation.
When we share our professional knowledge, it has an illuminating effect across our whole profession. And that pride is impossible to miss.