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Your Current Job: Fix It or Forget It?

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How do you know when it’s time to move on to a new job? Is it worth the hassle to fix your current situation, or do you need to look for greener pastures? Valerie Lambert has been helping fundraisers answers these questions for several years.

Lambert, who started her career as a fundraiser and is a member of AFP, says that every situation and person is different, and what might just be an inconvenience for one individual could be devastating to another.

 The author of the bi-monthly blog, Fix It or Forget It, Lambert will help members assess work situations and problems and discuss warning signs—and how to act on them—in her Sept. 25 webinar, “My Job’s Not What I Want It To Be,” from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. She’ll review some of the common strategies she has used with different clients and help participants develop their own plans at their jobs.

From Ritual to Career

Lambert got started in her role as a career consultant through her involvement with AFP and the Maryland Chapter. As the roundtable chair, she was in charge of leading the chapter Annual Giving roundtable on different issues, each of which always started with participants introducing themselves and stating where they worked.

“During the recession, what started out as these nice introductions turned into these almost embarrassing rituals as more and more people said they didn’t have a job,” says Lambert. “It changed the whole tone from getting to know you to these announcements of unemployment, which was never our intent.”

Once a year, the roundtable topic would focus on employment, and Lambert began to help people with their resumes, interview skills. “I never expected to turn it into a business, but I was spending so much time helping people that I eventually had to start charging, to differentiate those who wanted services versus people who just wanted to complain.”

“Both of which,” she adds, “can be very therapeutic. But I wanted to focus on helping people advance their careers.”

Service and Assertiveness

Lambert shared a couple of trends she sees as her friends and clients have turned to her for advice and guidance.

“I’ve found that most women in development—generally—tend to find it harder to be more assertive and talk about themselves,” she says. “There is a ton of competition out there, and you’re competing with so many people to find a job. I’m not sure if it’s a certain type of person who turns to fundraising and service, and prefer to talk about their organizations and causes, but for many female fundraisers, it’s not natural to highlight themselves and their work. But that is exactly what’s needed.

Lambert notes that studies have been conducted which show that women tend to talk about projects and accomplishments in terms of “we.” It’s a challenge, she says, for women fundraisers but one they must address and become more comfortable discussing their own particular work and achievements. “It’s not boasting, nor being rude or pushy, but you’ve got to sell yourself.”

Unique Workplace Priorities

Lambert has also found that what pushes one person’s buttons may not affect another at all. On her blog, Fix It or Forget It, she places stories about her clients (with names, organizations and general situations changed) for others to learn from, and sometimes receives comments about why someone put with a situation for so long, or why couldn’t someone just handle a particular problem or challenge.

“It’s really struck home with me through this job that everyone’s situation is completely different, and we all have different priorities for our career and workplace” says Lambert. “I’ve dealt with situations where the issues of offices versus cubicles made a huge impact on a person’s happiness at their job, and we worked to change the situation. What you might never consider an issue could be a make-or-break challenge for someone else, and we have to be respectful of that.”

Lambert asks her friends and clients to consider their own priorities regarding their job and workplace: job, promotions, travel, benefits? What would happen if just one of those factors were changed dramatically? For some people, changing just one factor slightly can make all the difference in the world, but they often don’t realize how important a certain factor is until it’s changed.

The Job Search

If a fundraiser decides that the situation can’t be fixed and wants to look for another job, Lambert counsels that the current situation is improving from a couple of years ago, but it’s still not great. Although having a job while you look can greatly improve your prospects, it cuts down on how much time you can actually spend looking. Many job searches, she says, are taking up to a year.

As fundraisers look for jobs, Lambert also reminds them to continue networking.

“It’s, by far, the most important thing you can do,” she says. “You are SO much more likely to find a spot through recommendations, so associations like AFP are critical when job searching.”

Lambert recommends volunteering for projects and committees so colleagues and others can see talents and skills outside of the work place.

Valerie Lambert is the director of Bilou Enterprises and will lead an AFP webinar on “My Job’s Not What I Thought It Would Be: Should I Fix It or Forget It?” on Sept. 25, from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. For registration and information, click here.