In part one of his episode, Kevin Chase shared the importance of honing your professional development to prepare for a director-level job. In part two, Kevin discusses how resume building, negotiation skills, and your personality can help you secure the executive-level position you’ve been after.
(2:26) How to stand out from the crowd
(4:05) It’s all in the sauce
(5:21) Kevin shares the recipe for job burnout
(9:44) When Kevin knew he could not fix his fit
(13:15) Do’s and don’t’s of resume writing
(17:12) Pro tip: Start your resume with an executive summary
(18:57) Negotiation advice – be thorough but reasonable
(22:27) Take the offer for the job you want, not the one that might come
(25:06) Everyone should know a Kevin Chase!
(29:17) If not LA or NY, then where? Kevin answers Dolph’s hypothetical
Kevin’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kevinscakesla/?hl=en
Kevin’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-chase-8a9a23/
Kevin’s Firm, Kevin Chase Executive Search Group: www.kevinchasesearch.com
See Kevin’s current searches: http://kevinchasesearch.com/current-searches/
Kevin’s Appearance on Season 1, Episode 2 of Nailedit! : www.netflix.com
Dolph Goldenburg: Welcome to the Successful Nonprofits™ Podcast. I’m your host Dolph Goldenburg. Today, I’m delighted to bring you part two of our conversation with Kevin Chase, Search Consultant Extraordinaire and CEO of Kevin Chase Executive Search Group. I hope you heard part one in which Kevin and I talked about preparing for a long-term career in nonprofit leadership. Kevin shared skills you should develop if you’re hoping to become a CEO in the future as well as how to make the most of volunteer and board positions and mentoring relationships. Today, he and I are going to take a look at what it takes to stand out if you’re ready to apply for the next level of organizational leadership, whether that is CEO or the position right before that. Our conversation takes on a philosophical flavor of times, but we get right back to business when we talk about negotiating salary. Let’s jump into this second part of my conversation with Kevin Chase.
So, let me ask you, once someone’s at a point in their career where they’re throwing their hat in the ring for possible chief executive positions, there are one of maybe five or six candidates that are actually getting an interview, what can candidates do to kind of rise above the din of all the other candidates?
Kevin Chase: You’re talking about someone who is applying for…
Dolph Goldenburg: The executive director or chief executive role, and they’re one of maybe six candidates that are getting an in-person interview.
Kevin Chase: Well, I think, and particularly if you’re interviewing with the hiring organization, which is a little bit different than interviewing like with me or someone like me, the way to stand out is to come to the table having really done significant homework about the organization. Know what the challenges are, what the opportunities are, maybe some of the history, an understanding of what the programs are and who they serve is I think is really the way to stand out. I mean, most people, when they’re hiring at very senior levels, are looking for someone that can help bring the organization to the next level. So, if you have a sense of what next level looks like, I think like even if it’s not quite right, a candidate who comes to the table and says, “I have thought through this. I’ve looked at your financial information. I’ve looked at your program information. I’ve talked to some people who used to work here. I attended an event that you all had. I visited one of your program sites like that investment. Having learned all that is a possible direction. Again, even if it, even if it is not 100% on the money, someone who can demonstrate that level of thoughtfulness about what the challenges and opportunities are, is always going to stand out.
I also think that the more one can let her, his, their kind of humanity who they are as a human being shine through in interactions, that’s the secret sauce in lot of situations. Because if you are at the point where you are a finalist on a search, chances are on terms of skill set and competency… We’re talking about a group of people, any of whom can do the job. So, then it’s, how is this person going to do the job? And you know, 80% of whether you make it or fail in an organization has everything to do with your “EQ” with how you show up with people, with how you are in the situation than it is with what’s on your resume.
Dolph Goldenburg: Kevin, I could not agree with you more. I think it’s so incredibly important to be authentic in that interview because that’s kind of a fit test for the board. So, if the board just doesn’t like who you are for whatever reason, you rub them the wrong way, or you’re too task-oriented, or you’re not task-oriented enough for whatever, you want to be really clear about that upfront so the board can weed you out because you’re not a good fit, and there’s no fix for fit.
Kevin Chase: You know what else is really important to remember? My worldview is really for senior-level executives, but there’s this thing where if in order to be successful, you have to show up in a job, a way that is inauthentic to who you really are, you will burn out quickly. Even if you’re successful, you’ll burn out quickly. Let’s say that inside you really, really, really are an introvert in all the classical sense. You have learned over a long career how to behave extrovertedly in situations because it’s required or because it is appropriate, and that’s fine. You can do that for a portion of the day or in certain groups. But if your job requires you to be an extrovert all day, every day around people, outside meeting with stakeholders, meeting with coalition partners, meeting with donors, and inside you are not that person, but you tried to show up as that person because you thought it would serve you, then that is a recipe for disaster. We can train ourselves to behave that way. But if it’s inauthentic, if it’s not really who we are at our core, eventually you’re going to fry out. It’s gonna make you unhappy. Find an opportunity where that’s not a critical success factor, you know,
Dolph Goldenburg: So, I have to share with you, you just told the Dolph Goldenburg story. I had one executive director job where I just was not a good fit. I kinda had a sense in my gut going in, and I ignored my gut. I let my head speak instead of my gut. You can still be successful, and the organization grew while I was there, and it grew during the great recession, but it was such a high emotional toll to myself. When I gave my notice, I gave three months’ notice, and they’re like, “Can you give 18?” And we eventually agreed on 10 months’ notice. By the time I was done, I was a burned empty shell. So, I mean that’s telling my story.
Kevin Chase: We talked about introversion versus extroversion, but there are lots of ways in which like, you know, if it’s a very hierarchical organization that’s really structured and that’s not who you are, if you’re a super egalitarian or the reverse, if you like structure, if you like hierarchy, and you’d go to work in an organization where what’s real is that everybody weighs in on everything, you can show up that way for a period of time. But then you have a bunch of two-year hops on your resume, and then a person like me gets your resume and sees six, two-year stints, and I just put that to the side. I can’t send it to a client.
Dolph Goldenburg: Could not agree with you more. I don’t really do a lot of chief executive hiring, but I do a lot of other hiring, especially when I’m in interim, and when I see a bunch of 18-month stints, I think, just about the time you know how to do this job, you’re going to be looking for a new one now. That’s not a good fit.
Kevin Chase: And understandably like your understanding of that over your career is going to change and develop. But whatever it is that makes you is what’s gonna make the difference. It’s not what’s on your resume. Whatever makes you like turn the brights on those lights and just bring, you know, all of that. This gets a little metaphysical, but the more you can bring your whole self to that conversation, the better. You know what I mean? Don’t be afraid of being outspoken, flamboyant, or having a sense of humor. You know, I find people who are kind of humorless, sometimes so serious going through the interview that you would never know out of that context that they are hilarious. I’m overly familiar. I am not direct because I’m not confrontational.
But if I see something, I’ll name it, and I’ll just talk about it. That’s who I am, and in my business when I go out and pitch, I talk to organizations who want to hire a search consultant. If that doesn’t work for you, don’t hire me because that’s what going to bring to the search process. That’s how I’m going to be. Here’s a story. I used to work in a really big search firm. And there was a guy who worked in our Washington DC office. That guy was connected to everybody. It was unbelievable how connected this guy was. So as a result of that, he would get all these searches, and then as big firms do, he would get the search. He would go, sell, pitch, and they would love him, he would sell the search, and then he’d say, “Oh, I’m going to have, um, our partner in our L.A. Office is going to work on the search with me.”
And then he would hand the work off to me. I had maybe the most miserable search experience of my life with a great organization, with great people that hired my colleague in Washington and got me to do the search. My values and their values or not aligned the way I like to run meetings, none of that stuff worked for them. And it was miserable. And the search was really hard, and I think they were difficult. I’m sure they thought I was awful, too. But the search took too long anyway. It was, it was horrible. And you know what, if I had gone to that meeting, and I had pitched, and I had told my story, and they had seen, you know, interacted with me, they wouldn’t have hired me and that was the right call.
I was the second chair, and my job was to make sure the circuits sign, but I’m telling you, if I had gone as my authentic self and have the conversation with that group of people, they would not have hired me, and they would have been right.
Dolph Goldenburg: Yeah. It’s funny, I say all the time kind of like you like, you know, do live engagements every year, and I would rather not get the engagement and have peace of mind and have a good life than getting engagement and have a really, really terrible life. But one of the things I just got to jump in real quick and say on our blog at www.successfulnonprofits.com, we have a blog post where I’ve got a list of 14 questions that I think every nonprofit should ask prospective consultants.
Kevin Chase: And one of those questions is, will you be doing the work or will somebody else? Because you want to meet the person who will actually be doing the work 100%. Another question for that list off topic is, how many other engagements will you be doing at the same time? Because when you know and if you’re a consultant in the big firm you have a revenue number you have to hit, which means you’ve got to do a bunch of searches at once. So yeah, it’s perfectly great question to say how many other, how many ways you’re going to be splitting your time.
Dolph Goldenburg: Kevin, that’s a great additional question, and I’ll have to look if it’s not already on there and will now be 15 questions you should ask your prospective consultant.
Kevin Chase: And this whole idea about bringing your whole self to it, which I know particularly earlier in your career is so scary, but it is so important like just be you. Be you on 11.
That’s what people are going to respond to. That’s what’s going to make you stand out. Are you going to get every job? No. Should you get every job? No. Should you get a job that’s going to make you miserable and burnout? No. Because it’s not only a miserable in the job you’re in, then you bring all that baggage and all that fatigue and all that, you know, sort of all that stuff. Don’t bring the old crazy to the new girl. Don’t bring old to the new job. I get a lot of questions about like resume questions about how do I do a resume to get the next job? So, this is the other thing that I always tell people is like, inject yourself into that resume.
First of all, remember a resume gets you an interview. It doesn’t get you a job. A resume gets you an interview. An interview gets you probably a job. But who you are in that job makes you successful or not successful. I get resumes sometimes where I have no sense of the human behind the piece of paper. None. I think whatever you can do to inject yourself into that document is good. A client sent me his daughter’s resume. She’s very early career, and I got this resume, and I said like, “I know you, you’re an amazing dad. I’ve met her, and she’s amazing. And this resume gives me no sense that there’s even a human being behind this.” I got on the phone with her and helped her a little bit. You know, I think every resume should include at the top an executive summary, which is three or four good pithy sentences that tell the reader of that document who you are and why they should care.
It can’t be much longer than three or four sentences. It requires some discipline. But like if you have a crazy sense of humor, that should show through. If you’re like a super high achieving type a like you know when every time at bat, somehow that should get woven in there. If you’re deeply mission-driven, like what you really care about is fixing like that should be in there.
Dolph Goldenburg: So, one of the things I think I heard you say then is to not Google 10 Best Objectives for our resume and pick one and put that on there. You actually have to sit down and write that three or four-sentence summary of who you are professionally and as a person.
Kevin Chase: If you’re like at the c-suite or c-suite adjacent level, you can have five sentences. You’re not running a diary entry. Just have for three, four, maybe five sentences that tell us who you are, and you put that at the top of your resume. I often say follow that up with a list of bullet points that are skills and accomplishments and then get into the body of your resume. Because what that allows you to do is set the frame for how a reader is going to see you. I see resumes where the first thing on there is education. Unless you have like eight degrees from the best schools in the world, like put your education at the bottom of the resume.
Dolph Goldenburg: I have literally, I have two degrees from a state school, Georgia State University, and I adore my alma mater. But I have supervised many people with Ivy League degrees where you went to school only gets you so far. And that’s your first job. And after that, it doesn’t get you that much.
Kevin Chase: Well that’s right. And again, what you’re doing is setting the frame for how people are gonna see if you want to be like, oh, this is a great school. That doesn’t help me much in knowing whether to hire you at all. So, I would say again, you know, people have short attention spans. Let’s look into the lens of a recruiter. Do you know how many resumes I look at? A zillion.
Dolph Goldenburg: That’s a great scientific number. I love it.
Kevin Chase: It’s really easy to tell by your resume how much, how thoughtful are, how intentional a person has been about writing a resume for this job. You know, we can have a whole conversation on do’s and don’ts of resumes. I would say as a general rule for everybody, remember back in the day, like when I went to college, you were supposed to have an objective. Leave that with the Flintstones and their foot-powered car. We’re not doing that anymore. It should be a summary. And that summary should be who you are. Yes, professionally, but also who you are and why you care, and then follow it up with a list of bullet points. So if someone was to busy to read the narrative, they could look at the bullet points and understand from the bullet points your core areas of expertise, most important personal values, like just bullet points. Then get into the, into the rest of the resume.
Because with the summary and then with this list of bullet points, you’ve already set my mind for how I’m going to interpret or view the rest of your resume, and that is much more meaningful to me in the work I do than where you went to school, even if it’s a great school. Now there are some, if you’re in academia, there are some obsessions, but I’m saying if you’re in a nonprofit organization and I’m in not a hiring manager in nonprofit, I want people in that organization who are aligned with who we are and what we do. And I can’t tell that by where you went to school. Maybe your first job out of school, leave your education up there. But after that, get it to the bottom and get some life in your resume.
Dolph Goldenburg: So, you’ve gone through the interview process, and you’re now negotiating for salary, compensation, all of that. Give our listeners some tips about how to negotiate the best deal for themselves.
Kevin Chase: I will start by saying eight out of 10 people suck at this. I’m one of them. I am a hundred times better at getting you a killer deal as an agent, as a third party than I am ever for myself. So, first thing I would say was like bring somebody into that conversation with you. Bring somebody in that conversation with you who knows who you are and can support you.
Dolph Goldenburg: So, are you saying have someone that you can kind of them bounce ideas off of or well, what do you mean?
Kevin Chase: Yeah, I’m not saying bring an agent to negotiate because we tend to particular thus folks in nonprofit, and I work with a lot of sort of underrepresented or marginalized, you know, professional populations. We tend to undervalue ourselves, right? Apparently, cisgender, straight white men don’t have this problem, but everybody else does. So we tend to undervalue ourselves a little bit. That’s one. So yeah, you need a cheerleader who can, who can really support you in figuring that out. One thing is we are all worth more on the open market then we are in the jobs we have. No matter where you are or who you are, somebody else’s is going to pay you more to come there then you are making right now.
So, that’s a good thing to know first of all. And the other thing I think is to be thoughtful but realistic and maybe put a little effort into research and understanding like sort of what the peer group who have you your job do, and that information is sort of available if you’re willing to dig for it. I’m a little bit, if you’re going to be, if you’re applying for a CEO job or considered for a CEO job, like you really have to think of it in terms of what percentage of the total revenue. If you’re going to work for a budget, sorry, with an organization whose budget is $2 million, don’t ask for $200,000 because it’d be fiscally irresponsible to ask the board who has a fiduciary responsibility to an organization to pay you that much because of what it represents as a portion of the total budget. I think it is perfectly reasonable if you’re moving up a step to look at getting, you know, an 18 or a 20% increase. Be clear in saying, “This is what I need to make this change.”
Dolph Goldenburg: You also mentioned that you’re always more valuable somewhere else than you are in your current organization. And for some reason that caused me to remember a moment when I asked for a mentoring moment with our dear friend Lorielle Gene. I was negotiating an executive director position and was like I need some tips and some advice because Gosh, you know, you seem great and everything you do, and this has been tough for me at times. And one of the things she told me, “Well, they’ve offered the job to them,” I guess they have. And she said, “They’ve offered it at a certain amount and certain benefits and vacation, etc.?” I say yes, they have. And she said, “Then you need to reply back with absolutely everything you want because, at this point, they have everything to lose. If you turn down the job and nothing to gain, they’ve already decided you’re the top candidate. They’ve already offered you the position. Figure out what it is you want and ask for that.” Once you accept the job, they’re not going to give it to you in a year or two years. And far too often, people accept the job thinking, well, once I get in, I’ll prove my worth, and I’ll get more money or get more vacation time or whatever, and it just doesn’t work that way.
Kevin Chase: Yeah. I mean we always say, take the offer for the job that you want, not the job that might come if you take this job. We’re hiring a deputy director, but our CEO is going to retire, so we envisioned this person. Don’t take that job because you’re going to be CEO. Take that job because you’re going to be a deputy director because you may never make it to the CEO job. So that’s true. Yeah. I think Laurie’s point is really well taken, and I was going to tell her, Jane, she’s wrong.
I Love Lorielle. She’s a powerhouse. But yeah, ask for what you think you worth with this one caveat; don’t be ridiculous. One risks exposing a lack of professional maturity by asking for something that’s unreasonable. I’ll tell you an example. I was trying to negotiate a good offer for a candidate who was early-career going to be your first time at-bat CEO. Obviously, we knew we want them to move this candidate from where I’m not going to gender this person, where this person was to where we wanted this person to be. And this person in justifying what they were going to ask this board for chose as a peer group against him to benchmark four of the highest paid, longest-serving CEOs in the movement literally. And I could not get through to this candidate. That’s not your peer group.
It really isn’t. It went badly because the counter offer went back the board just all rolled their eyes, and it ended up reflecting really, really, really poorly on that person and ended up, you know, people had real questions about judgment and like it was, it was out there. So yes, ask for what you want within reason. Bring somebody into the conversation who can help you sort of figure out if what you’re asking for is going to have the opposite of the intended effect, which is to make people want you less rather than more. But yeah, there’s nothing wrong, especially if you’re at that point where you know, they want you to ask for what you want.
Dolph Goldenburg: I also absolutely agree with you. It’s like ask for what you want, but also know how much of what you bring and what it’s worth. Really understand the value of what you bring.
Kevin Chase: The secret key to this is as everybody should know, an executive search person, right? You, I mean, you should be on their radar screen and have enough of a recruiter or somebody because that’s the person you want to call and say, Hey, I’m going to do this. Does this make sense to you?
Dolph Goldenburg: You know, you’re 100% right about that to everyone. Everyone should know a Kevin Chase. All right? So that’s the first thing. If you only got one takeaway, and by the way you know, you know Kevin, we batch-record the podcasts. We’ve done a few today. And so, this might be the second or third time to say, oh my gosh, I think I know what today’s title might be. And in this case, I might be everyone should know a Kevin Chase.
Kevin Chase: Everyone should add Kevin Chase on LinkedIn.
It’s not a bad like career strategy to know like a search person or two who’s good, who works in your field. And I will say it is deeply unfortunate, but there is a wide variance among search professionals of who’s, you know, sort of good and ethical and this whole thing about hiring organizations should hire a search consultant that they like and feel like this is going to represent them. And like when you’d figure out who you’re a search buddy is like find someone who you trust, who you feel like is going to take good care of. You look at the work they’ve done. Almost every search person will have a list on their website of the kinds of searches they’ve done, who they’ve placed, where they placed them. And so, you choose that carefully. This is another thing that nobody really gets the handbook for how to do this.
So, we all kind of make it up as we get along. Someone who has a mentor who or who has a relationship with a search person who does this all day, every day are good. Like just kind of allies to have in your personal kind of kitchen cabinet of people who you strategize about your career with. Taking this back to the top, I think again, this whole idea about setting aside a portion of your capacity, 15%, 20% to think about what’s next is so critical and to be strategic and thoughtful and intentional about that. And you know, we’ve talked about any number of things that you can do. But yeah, fine. You know, work with a recruiter who you know, does a lot of great work in your world like I have. I take those calls all the time. I love it. I mean it’s a break from my regular what I do. I will do a hundred percent better job advocating for you and helping you get the best deal than I feel comfortable doing myself.
Dolph Goldenburg: Well, Kevin, I am so glad that you’ve joined us on the podcast today. This has been a great conversation, but I am not letting you go without an Off-the-Map question. I know technically we’re at a time but too bad. Kevin, he can’t go into, we’ve got an Off-the-Map question.
Kevin Chase: I’m all good. I’m also looking at my house to see a bit pithy pearls of wisdom. I didn’t get this.
Dolph Goldenburg: I thought about asking you about the time that you danced with Maria Jasmine. I decided not to. I thought about asking you about the time that you were on a reality baking competition show and I decided not to.
Kevin Chase: That one’s on Netflix though. Osmond’s just too long ago. We were still edging images and stone tablets, so it was a long time ago.
Dolph Goldenburg: Surely, we can YouTube that though. Like you can even YouTube I Love Lucy
Kevin Chase: Oh, no. Thank God my husband’s heart pipe is not online.
Dolph Goldenburg: I think I’ve got a great one that will help listeners get to know you, but I’m sure they can probably Google your reality baking competition and see that too. In fact, maybe we will link to it in the show notes, but it’s on Netflix. So, it’s streaming forever for better or for worse or at least Netflix is forever, which means, because you know all tech companies go out of business in 15 years or whatever. So Netflix is forever.
Kevin Chase: The only caveat is that that is not a fantastic representation of all that I’m capable of in the baking area. So, if you watch Netflix, you have to immediately go to @kevinscakela on Instagram to see real cakes.
Dolph Goldenburg: There you go. That’s even better. That’s the rule. Okay. So, we will also, by the way, link to that Instagram in the show notes, as well as your LinkedIn profile. So, if people want you as their baking mentor or their search mentor, Kevin, they’re going to get you. For the Off-the-Map question, I know that you have lived in New York City and Los Angeles, the two bicoastal biggies if you will. My Off-the-Map question is much more of an On-the-Map question. It’s hypothetical. Let’s say that New York and La joined together and passed an ordinance that made it illegal for search consultants to live within the city limits or within 50 miles of the walls of the city. I know that sounds very Shakespearian, but you know, within 50 miles of the walls of the city. So, obviously then you got to move out of L.A., and you can’t move back to New York. Where are you moving to?
Kevin Chase: I mean I think we’re supposed to be apolitical here, but girl, I’m moving to Canada.
Dolph Goldenburg: I moved to Vancouver. I love it. Well and just, you know, my husband and I were looking at the possibility of Uruguay because it’s one of the ten friendliest LGBTQ countries in the world. So, I’m right there with you. I’m like, yeah, if we’re moving, it’s probably out of the country.
Kevin Chase: I’m going to Canada. I’m gonna live with Justin Trudeau. Thank you very much. I’ve moved to Vancouver. I think it’s a stunning city and great quality of life. Or I’d move to Spain.
Dolph Goldenburg: I was going to say I’d be willing to bet Vancouver also has executive search consultants. I see you could still work.
Kevin Chase: Exactly. I’ll have to go start a career again and do all the things that I’m talking about other people doing for myself in Vancouver.
Dolph Goldenburg: There you go. Well, Kevin, thank you so much for returning to the Successful Nonprofits Podcast today. I really wish that I had known you 25 years ago when I was a baby gay, professional, fresh out of college because you would have given me some amazing advice, and I probably would not have made some of the career mistakes. So listeners, you can find Kevin at www.kevinchasesearch.com, and as I said, we’re going to link to his LinkedIn page in the show notes, his Instagram page, although that’s about baking his Netflix reality show special. Make sure you go to the show notes, and you’ll be able to see Kevin there. The other thing I want to make sure folks know is if you want to see what searches Kevin is currently running, I think listeners can find that at your website too, right?
Kevin Chase: Yep at www.kevinchasesearch.com, and then you just click on the current searches page, and everything we’re working on presently, it’s up there.
Dolph Goldenburg: Perfect. Hey Kevin, thanks so much.
Kevin Chase: My pleasure. It was great to be back. Thanks for having me.
Dolph Goldenburg: Are you daydreaming right now about getting a call from Kevin and let me tell you something, listeners, anytime you get a call from Kevin even he was not calling about a search, it’s always a great call, and you always want to pick up the phone. But did he call you, and he’s asking you to apply for the CEO position at the nonprofit that inspired you to choose your career? If that’s the case, I’m not going to interrupt you. Just know that after you hang up the phone with Kevin, if he failed to give you his URL, you can go to www.successfulnonprofits.com, and we have linked not only his URL but everything else. We talked about Instagram, Netflix, LinkedIn, the whole nine yards. By the way, I was committed to doing one sports reference because Kevin, and I had one sports reference in episode 12, so I got it. Check. Got It done. That’s our show for this week. Listeners, I hope you have gained some insight to help your nonprofit thrive in a competitive environment.