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The Great Resignation: When Experienced Candidates Feel Resigned


While many people have voluntarily left their jobs during the Great Resignation, I was among those more mature major gift officers that lost a job at the start of the pandemic. While I hoped to quickly find another opportunity, I still have not found a viable, comparable option. With so many younger candidates in the field, it has become even more challenging to be considered for an opening. How can I find employers that will take a chance on an older candidate with my experience and how can I position myself to land another inspiring, impactful role?


Stories and statistics of the Great Resignation pepper the headlines, yet they do not tell the whole story. Countless employees are still left on the sidelines and millions of jobs are left unfilled. Some of the disconnect may be due to hiring technology that relies solely on keywords and narrow search terms rather than the insight of experienced development executives. A more traditional checklist of job search tactics for this issue may include an improved resume and LinkedIn profile, interviewing techniques, networking groups and other marketing strategies. Job candidates of all ages and experience levels benefit from a broader social media footprint and targeted volunteer opportunities.

More mature professionals are expressing age discrimination concerns; however, this area is extremely difficult to prove and navigate. Don’t let that get you down. Use this situation to provide a springboard to develop more innovative roles, options or responsibilities. Recent strategic planning sessions with clients have included our advice of implementing shorter timelines with tangible outcomes to remain nimble and current. While there is a thirst for campaigns, Accordant also advocates for bold initiatives that incorporate wave campaigns. With shorter horizons and specific metrics, philanthropy executives may identify the best roles for seasoned consultants to join the foundation for a reason and for a season.

Some mature candidates have also expressed interest in redefining roles as they learn new valuable skills. A high-performing major gifts officer in Minnesota recently expressed her interest in staying on with her organization in a part-time role if she could serve as a marketing intern while developing her knowledge in social media. Through the course of this creative opportunity, she maintained her company benefits while in a graduate degree program. She will soon start the next chapter of her career with an entirely different outlook, set of skills and great enthusiasm. This coincides with the 2021 Gallup survey that states 57% of US adults in the workforce would be interested in an “upskilling” program focused on learning a new skill.

While the job search process has been exhilarating for some, it has been frustrating for many. Use this time to investigate what is next for you. Take this opportunity to redefine what you can offer, push the boundaries, seek experiences that highlight your strengths and do not hesitate to seek counsel or coaching along your journey.

About the Author: Michelle Rovang is a Principal Consultant with Accordant. She can be reached at Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn to learn more about the role of culture and philanthropic strategy and to continue this discussion.


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The Accordant Team has published a number of books to advance the efforts of health care philanthropy and help development leaders everywhere. 

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Accordant is honored to collaborate with American Hospital Association Trustee Services to provide issue papers, templates and webinars to support the involvement of healthcare trustees and foundation board members in advancing philanthropy. These resources can also be found on the AHA Trustee website.

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