By Shannon Metts Collins
Nonprofit Account Manager
Big Buzz Idea Group
With the new year just around the corner, many nonprofits and associations are finding themselves in a position of hiring for 2024! The opportunity to build your team can feel exciting, daunting, and confusing. Before lining up interviews, there are several key questions that organizations should discuss to make the process as efficient as possible. Answers to the following questions will put you on the right track to finding your next employee.
How do you define your organization’s culture and values?
You probably have an idea of which skills and qualifications to look for in a candidate, but another important consideration before posting an open position is: What values would a potential employee need to hold to be aligned with the mission of the organization?
What does “fitting in” mean on your team? It’s important to think about culture – outside of “our company is mostly introverts or extroverts” or “we all go to happy hour together on Friday”. There are wonderfully talented people of all personalities with varying preferences for how to spend their weekends, but you may lose out on a great addition to the team if your focus lies here rather than on how the candidate’s passion and ideas can contribute to the success of your organization.
When considering your nonprofit’s culture and values, nothing causes problems like the slippery slope of biases, which can run rampant during the hiring process whether consciously or unconsciously. To fight biases, ask for resumes with only initials and no gender markers, or hold off on researching LinkedIn profiles (photos) until further in the interview process. Keep in mind that there is a tendency to hire “like us”, so maintain this awareness during the interview process and always ask “Is this person the most qualified or the most like me?”
What is a candidate’s first impression of your organization?
A candidate’s first interaction with your nonprofit will often come from the job description posted – which hopefully leads them, secondly, to your website to apply!
When was the last time your job descriptions were updated? Do they reflect the skills and experience needed for someone to do the job today? Be aware of biases that could discourage a candidate from considering the job – Is it required for someone to have a master’s degree, or even a bachelor’s degree to do the job? Must they be able to lift 50 pounds? Can the job be done remotely or with a flexible schedule? Does your organization offer assistance with commuting or childcare? These considerations will open the opportunity to more of the BIPOC population, women, parents, or people with disabilities.
Regarding your job description, consider it not just as a document that lays out the duties of the job, but as a marketing tool to attract the talent you are seeking. Listing the salary range, hours, location/modality, and basic benefits are considered standard, so if these details aren’t in the description, candidates may fear you are hiding something.
Being explicit, thorough, and engaging in the job description will save time in the long run. You may also consider including your mission statement, showcasing your current staff, or mentioning partner organizations your nonprofit works with to entice candidates to learn more about the role.
Where and how do you get in front of potential candidates?
Depending on the experience level of your candidates, you may need to tweak your posting strategy to attract the desired audience. For example, when seeking director/C-suite level candidates, it makes sense to focus your attention on LinkedIn, direct emails, cold calls, or Facebook groups. If hiring temporary employees or new college grads, send a text to schedule their interview or consider putting together a “virtual” job description video to share on your company’s Instagram or TikTok. Knowing how and where your audience is engaging with content in their job search is crucial to getting in front of your desired talent.
Be thoughtful with your job board postings as well, because utilizing multiple boards can quickly become expensive. Instead, focus on where your desired talent may be job hunting: mid and higher-level association professionals are likely looking at the ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) job board. Administrative Assistants, Communications Associates, or Data Entry Clerks are more likely to be looking at the YNPN (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network) job board.
Who needs to be involved in your hiring process?
Today’s candidates are eager for the interview process to move quickly, with many candidates considering multiple offers at a time. Define your interview process early to keep things moving. The most competitive organizations typically offer a hiring decision within three rounds, spanning no more than two or three weeks. Many more rounds or weeks than that and the organization can come off as indecisive, disorganized, or uninterested. (C-suite hiring may be an exception here.) Candidates should be meeting with the team members most crucial to the position – not the entire organization. Double up or have panel interviews when appropriate. Talk about salary expectations early and often to increase the likelihood of a smooth negotiation process.
Should you bring in a staffing firm?
There are situations where recruiting may be too big of a challenge, such as hiring for a “niche” position, or when you’re having trouble attracting the right talent, or when you can’t give your search the attention it deserves. That’s when it may be time to consider using a staffing firm, which often comes with a robust candidate database and network, an insider’s perspective on the nonprofit sector, and the tools needed to navigate tricky conversations or situations.
Can you use AI/ChatGPT to help with hiring?
Absolutely! Rather than being overwhelmed by the hiring process, lean on technology (ChatGPT and many other sites are free!) to assist you. For example, ChatGPT can help you to update and remove biases from job descriptions, generate a list of fair and equitable interview questions to ask, and can also provide you with better email writing, resume comparisons, and idea generation!
In sum, a thoughtful hiring plan that is well-defined, equity-centered, and streamlined will allow you to focus on hiring the talent that you need to get on track for a thriving and prosperous 2024!