Is It Time to Recruit New Talent?

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By F. Duke Haddad

I was on a Zoom call the other day with an experienced senior human resource consultant. This outstanding individual was hired to find a new nonprofit executive for a major organization. The job description was perfect and incredibly detailed. It seemed like the right candidate would need to have tremendous experience and credentials. Since this was a highly visible new executive position, the search would probably need to be nationwide.

The consultant and I discussed the upcoming complex recruiting process, leaving no stone unturned. If you have ever been charged with leading a search for nonprofit executive, you quickly realized how long and hard the road might be to finding the ideal fit for your organization. If it is time to recruit new talent, and you are new to this daunting task, do you understand this process?

In an article by Wholewhale, Peter Drucker is quoted by saying we hire the right person 50% of the time. To make the hiring process more successful, you need to search for the most talented top 10% of the applicant pool. Attributes of the candidate must align with the organizational core values. Craft a job description in such a way to attract top talent. Pool the job applicants everywhere to secure at least 50 applicants as a starting point.

Use a wide variety of networks to spread the search via word of mouth. Organize the applications and prioritize them for review purposes. Prepare for interviews and do them well. Ask questions that make applicants provide the information that you are looking for in the outstanding candidate. Look for passion, purpose, and genuine interest in the organization. Hiring the wrong person can cost you 15 times the amount of salary that you pay them.

A Bridgespan article provided 10 tips for securing the best candidates for the roles you need to fill. These tips are as follows:

  1. Assess your existing team and talent against the mission.
  2. Determine if you can meet the need by promoting within or changing job descriptions.
  3. Create a realistic compensation and benefits package.
  4. Agree on “must-haves,” such as specific job requirements absolutely needed.
  5. Create a second “nice-to-have” list.
  6. Sell the sizzle, not the steak, by establishing selling points that candidates would like.
  7. Establish a search strategy, budget and timeline.
  8. Determine who will interview candidates and to what end.
  9. Stay flexible as searches always have uncertain twists and turns.
  10. Close the search professionally when it is completed.

The Foundation List notes that best practices for recruiting and hiring nonprofit staff involves finding the organizational mission passion in the candidate, making sure the pay and title are in sync with each other, plus having the truly compelling intro and description for your job.

Show the value of the career opportunity, and keep the interview process streamlined. Seek to express interest in strong candidates early and effectively understanding your current organizational talent and what talent is needed to fill gaps. Put the effort in the recruiting process and communicate throughout the interview process. Understand the efforts and time that will be required from beginning to end of the search process.

The LinkedIn Talent blog stated in a recent survey that over 75% of professionals in North America say they are interested in working for a nonprofit. The issue is budget constraints, mission alignment and compensation competition. Five data-based tips for recruiting nonprofit talent include looking beyond your traditional talent pool by seeking valuable skill sets needed in success in other sectors like the for-profit sector.

Reach out to potential candidates and discuss opportunities. Make your job opening easy to find by any candidate using social media, professional job boards and word of mouth. Offer unique benefits besides pay that might attract office seekers. Talk to recruiters about the best ways to advertise positions in addition to posting on sites such as LinkedIn.

An article by Travelers Insurance indicated that finding and compensating nonprofit sector employees is challenging. A group of nonprofit leaders shared their hiring thoughts with Travelers’s representatives. They stated that when recruiting talent, organizations must set clear expectations for the open position, develop your existing team, use networks to find candidates, consider additional benefits to recruit top employees and make sure you are protected with employment practices liability insurance. Continually train your current staff for roles within your organization.

A Balance article suggested the best nonprofit job boards for people interested in nonprofit positions, since thousands of applicants go online for nonprofit searches. These are, National Council of Nonprofits career Center, The Nonprofit Times Career Match, Koya Leadership Partners, The Bridgespan Group, Devex, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, Encore, Chronicle of Philanthropy and Foundation Center’s Philanthropy News Digest. Also seek ideas for jobs and contacts through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. It is also suggested that candidates volunteer for an organization that they might be interested in.

If it is time to recruit new talent, do what the consultant recently did with me. As previously stated, we had a Zoom meeting and discussed a variety of ways to contact potential candidates. I was glad to assist him in his search. You never know when I will need his advice and guidance. It is a networking and relationship world. Use every tool available and remember what Peter Drucker said about hiring the right person only 50% of the time. Make sure you avoid being on the wrong side of the 50%. Lastly, besides passion for the mission, make sure you ask the candidate what they know about the organization during the interview process. Sadly, the overwhelming number of candidates will fail in their response. They did not take the time to research!

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