Want to be a No Kill Leader?

By Rory Adams

Rory Adams | September 18th, 2019

Earlier this month, there was a great blog post by HSUS about getting a job in animal welfare. At any given time there may be hundreds of available jobs in shelters and rescues all across the country, from entry level positions in animal care to mid level management and director positions. If you have the passion and drive to build a future in which homeless pets’ lives are protected in shelters, you need to find a job where your lifesaving ideas will receive support from your leadership. With so many options and organizations out there, how do you find a job that will embrace your new ideas and help you grow as a No Kill leader?

Here are 10 tips to help you find work with organizations that empower change makers.

  1. Understand what lifesaving leaders look for when hiring staff. Read our blog on this topic and learn what the top lifesaving leaders in the country look for when hiring leadership. What can you improve? What do you already do well? Continue to read, grow and push yourself to be the leader you want to be.
  2. Consider relocating for the right leadership team or job. If you are open to relocating for a job, you will have more options. If you are ready to apply for a director job or high-level management position, look at the animal shelter job postings facebook group. You might also look into the Maddie’s Leadership Fellowship Program, which requires relocating for a year to work with lifesaving, No Kill leaders around the country who can commit to working as a shelter director after completing the year long training program.
  3. Look for data transparency. Lifesaving leaders believe that the public has a right to know what animals are dying in their community animal shelters. Look for jobs at organizations that openly post statistics on their websites, Shelter Animals Count and the Best Friends Data Dashboard. Want to learn more about what data you should be looking for? Read our data transparency blog here.
  4. Research beyond mission and vision. Knowing an organization’s mission and vision is important for an interview, but this information alone might not tell about philosophies around change, improvement, and lifesaving. Watch out for organizations that claim they are saving all the “healthy, treatable and safe,” pets in their mission or vision statements. This could be an indication that the organization is closed off to change, implementing new lifesaving programs, or seeking solutions for old problems.
  5. Read the organization’s FAQs. Politics and opinion can most often be found in the FAQ section of websites. Avoid organizations that offer defensive answers, bash other organizations, or mention that they are saving every life that can be saved. Instead seek out organizations that give answers you are excited to hear more about, talk positively about growth and change, and celebrate the need for continued improvement.
  6. Give honest answers to tough interview questions. You might be asked in an interview if you will kill healthy or treatable animals as a part of the job. If you don’t believe in killing healthy, treatable animals, ask what power or agency the organization’s staff is given to seek live outcome options for at-risk animals. This type of honesty may cost you a job, but it might also give you important answers you need to consider if you can be the change maker you want to be.
  7. Reach out to organizations you admire. If you have a hero in this movement, or there is an organization you admire, look for open positions there. Consider reaching out to Human Resources to ask if you can send your resume and cover letter for consideration for open positions in the future. If the organization is local, sign up to volunteer and foster and be open (not pushy) about your interest in open positions.
  8. Be honest about your future plans from the start. If you are applying for a job as an adoption coordinator, but you hope to be a shelter director in 5 years, be honest about this in the interview process. Let leadership know that you are open to growth and ask how you might advance in the organization.
  9. Take advantage of (and seek out) professional development opportunities. Many organizations offer professional development as a part of the benefits package. If you ever have the opportunity to travel to conferences or take classes be sure to! There are also resources like AmPA! or Maddie’s Fund, that offer free webinars and classes to help you learn. Check out Maddie’s Lifesaving Academy for hands-on learning opportunities that teach lifesaving programs and leadership philosophy. Who knows, these classes might connect you to job leads, too.
  10. Come to the AmPA! 2020 Conference and build a network. The American Pets Alive Conference can help you cultivate a lifesaving community. Having a network to support your work is important and can lead to finding great job opportunities, too!


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