Turn to your neighbor at a Grant Professionals Association National Conference or a Grant Professionals Association chapter meeting or regional conference and ask your neighbor what their job title is and what their job title means within their organization. You will likely get a different answer for each neighbor you ask during the session. So what is in a job title? What does your job title mean that you are doing for your organization or clients as a grant professional? When we asked the #grantchat community responded that their titles ranged from Grant Writer to Coordinator of Foundation and Corporate Grants to Executive Director of Grants to Development Director.
It is because of the wide variety of titles within our profession that we asked the question of our #grantchat community members: Q10: If you were coaching someone entering the field of grants, what advice would you give for job titles and responsibilities? #grantchat
Our community didn’t disappoint. The advice shared by our #grantchat colleagues and peers was all right on point and covered everything we would have said. So rather than rewriting their words, we’re going to say “Ditto!” to their advice and add some commentary.
Advice on Your Job Title from Experienced Grant Professionals
A great perspective – to consider what your role as a grant professional in relationship to what the role is of the granting organization’s staff/board!
Regardless of your title, training and professional development needs to be a constant part of your role. Whether in the grant profession for 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years, or 16 years, we are always growing as professionals and learning new skills. For those that entered the field even just ten years ago, the importance of online applications in our work as grant professionals was significantly different than it is today. Add to that equation social media and its impact and involvement in the grant process and there is a constant need to focus on professional development, training, and mentoring appropriate to your current title and professional goals.
It is important to try to understand whether working with multiple clients or when looking at a new position at a different organization what the job titles mean in the organization and how they fit within the organization’s hierarchy. There is a reality to how individuals both external and internal to the organization will interact with and view you based on your title.
While we are all grant professionals, what our specialties are within the field vary. Some of us prefer the research and relationship building aspect of our work. Others prefer to work exclusively on the writing picking up where colleagues leave off after research and relationships. Others enjoy all aspects of the pre-award side and prefer not to be involved in grants management in a hands-on way. And then there are those grant professional’s whose role mean handling the entire grant life cycle – grant research through grant award closeout. Having the opportunity to experience the different aspects of the grant professional either through an internship or volunteer opportunity before selecting which aspect you prefer to focus on helps you understand what job titles and responsibilities best resonate with your personal preferences and passions.
While the job title might be what initially attracts you to a potential job opportunity…who wouldn’t like to be the Executive Director of Grants?! Or the Director of Foundation & Corporate Grant Relations?! Critical to understand first is what the responsibilities and tasks are that you will be completing in that role. Are you the only grant professional in the organization? Regardless of title, you will be responsible for all grant related work. Are you one of five individuals in the Development Department focusing on grants? Which of the grant life cycle duties are your responsibility?
Regardless of where you begin within an organization and what title you assume for the role, are there opportunities within the organization for your professional growth? If not the director, is there an opportunity for you to possibly grow into that role? If the Director of Grants, is there still room to challenge your professional development through your involvement with the management/leadership team?
Ultimately there is not a right or wrong job title, or a silver bullet for which grant professional job title is the best entry level position to ensure long-term career success. Your passion and skill within each grant professional competency is ultimately what will help you achieve the professional success you seek.
If you have a blog post or have an article that you would like to share about the concept, we would love for you to do so in the comment section or by using the #grantchat on the social media network of your choice!