At the same time, more candidates than you could count are competing for the best positions, each hoping to land in a role that’s compatible and challenging.
With so much going on in the world of nonprofit job hunting, how can an organization like yours stand out amongst the crowd of job listings and attract an applicant who is passionate, hard-working, and invested in your cause?
You probably guessed that there’s no easy answer to this question. Nonetheless, we’ll break down five top tips to navigating nonprofit job boards in an effective, strategic manner—and finding the perfect new executive or team member along the way!
Whether you’re replacing a key leader at your organization or expanding your staff to bring on new roles entirely, the search process takes more than posting on a job board and hoping for the best.
Instead of shooting in the dark, follow these practices to ensure a successful search:
- Bring on an executive search firm.
- Craft a stellar job description.
- Expand your job listing.
- Search for the perfect mission-match.
- Diversify your marketing strategy.
Your new staff member is out there, so let’s get started finding them!
1. Bring on an executive search firm.
Before we can walk you through writing your job listing or show you how to advertise your post, there’s one vital strategy that will make the rest of these tips fall into place seamlessly.
In fact, while there’s no secret key to unlocking a simple, successful applicant search, hiring an executive search firm comes pretty close.
An executive search firm is comprised of specialized consultants who can work with your organization throughout every step of the search process, including conceptualizing the role, developing a search committee and strategy, and creating compelling job listing materials.
While it’s true that your organization can make a go at filling the role on your own, bringing on outside help comes with a host of benefits.
For example, an executive search firm can help you:
- Design a strategic role. Most likely, your nonprofit has seen some major changes over the years, so it’s important that each position reflects your current overall strategy. A consultant can help you assess the responsibilities of each staff member and determine how your new hire can contribute to your goals as an organization.
- Devise an appropriate recruitment strategy. With your organization’s strategies, values, and goals in mind, your consultant can determine the best marketing methods and posting sites for your listing. Their insight in this regard can be invaluable, especially considering their extended networks and expertise.
Screen candidates expertly and objectively. Executive search professionals are well-versed in the recruitment and interview process, with tested tactics for narrowing down the candidate field. And with their outsider’s perspective, you never have to worry about bias or internal politics taking precedence over an applicant’s value.
There are a number of reputable search firms that your nonprofit can choose from, so be sure to find one with the experience and expertise that would be most helpful to your organization.
To jumpstart the selection process, check out this list of top nonprofit executive search professionals compiled by Double the Donation!
2. Craft a stellar job description.
After the job title itself, the job description may be the first impression of your organization that a potential applicant has. You want to make it count!
To make the most of your listing on a nonprofit job board, it’s important to take some time to coin a description that aptly conveys the functions of the job and a bit of your organization’s culture and personality as well.
Sound difficult? It doesn’t have to be.
If you’re partnering with an executive search professional or a nonprofit consultant, they’ll work with you one-on-one to compose a job description that’s pitch perfect.
Whether you’re working with a firm or going it alone, keep these tips in mind when writing your job description:
- Follow a template or use other listings as inspiration. If you’re not sure where to start, check out nonprofit job description templates or borrow ideas from existing postings on job boards. While you don’t want to copy another organization’s listing verbatim, you can see what works for others to inform your own description.
- Stay true to your nonprofit’s brand. Since applicants may not be very familiar with your organization, this is your chance to give them a hint of your personality, values, and overall brand. To attract like-minded candidates and stand out amongst carbon copy postings, make sure your description is unique to your nonprofit.
- Accurately sum up the responsibilities of the role. To avoid misleading potential candidates, be as straightforward as possible with what the job entails. Include daily activities, general objectives, and key qualifications. After all, the applicant should know what they’re getting into from the get-go!
For more in-depth advice on writing, posting, and advertising an executive job description, we recommend reading this helpful article from DonorSearch.
3. Expand your job listing.
The job description is a valuable starting point, but it’s not where your job listing should end.
Think about it: a job board gives you one page to sum up your nonprofit’s purpose, describe the position, list applicant requirements (as well as preferred candidate traits), explain daily responsibilities and long-term goals, and touch on major projects the new hire will be involved in—and that’s just scratching the surface!
Not to mention, you can bet that with all of that information crammed onto one page, even the most dedicated candidate probably won’t make it through every word.
Take your job posting a step further by including additional materials that set your listing apart from the multitude of text-laden listings that start and end on the job board.
You can include this additional content by linking to your website or attaching downloadable resources to the job listing itself (if the job board allows).
Make sure to include all of the following:
- An introduction to your organization. No candidate should apply for a job with a nonprofit he or she isn’t familiar with! Save your applicant some Googling by providing a one-sheet with all relevant information, including a brief background, key projects, and highlights of your most impressive initiatives.
- Photos or videos of your team in action. Break away from the traditional wall of text that comprises a job listing by including photos or videos of your staff and volunteers serving your community. Not only will visuals demonstrate your efforts in a tangible way, but they’ll provide a way for potential new staff to forge a connection with your cause.
- In-depth position information. Your job board posting should include all the information an applicant requires, but downloadable resources or a page on your own website can expand the description should a candidate want more details. Make sure to spread this information across separate sections and pages in an organized, visually pleasing way.
Thorough resources will help potential candidates determine if the role is truly a good fit. By narrowing the job field, you’ll be able to sharpen your recruitment and find the perfect fit more efficiently.
4. Search for the perfect mission-match.
When searching for a new staff member, you’re undoubtedly looking for a person who meets all the requirements—education, years of experience, and software or platform knowledge, to start.
However, in the nonprofit space in particular, it’s important that your search team also conduct a values-based recruitment process.
That means that in conjunction with meeting the formal requirements, your ideal candidate (soon to be your new teammate!) should have a passion for your cause and enthusiasm for your fundraising, donor engagement, and expansion strategies.
So, with just a cover letter, resume, and a couple of interviews, how on earth can you really know if an applicant will be committed to your mission on a long-term basis?
Here are a few key questions to ask to determine just that:
What is the applicant’s professional and volunteer history? Your ideal candidate should have experience working in some capacity with your cause. That doesn’t have to mean that the person has volunteered or interned for your nonprofit (although that’s a major plus!), but they should be familiar with the state of your cause in the community.
- What nonprofit trends excite them? If your team is passionate about text giving or other emerging fundraising technologies, you shouldn’t hire someone who’s a stickler for old-school strategies. Ask your applicant what their favorite fundraising tactics are to make sure their methods will align with or enhance your own.
- Does the candidate fit in with your nonprofit culture? Though it’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, the culture of your organization does play a major part in finding the right fit. More than just the “vibe of your office,” your unique culture dictates your work style, communication preferences, and other vital nuances of your team.
As you’re laying out your recruitment strategy, make a list of the values you want in your new hire.
While generic responses (such as work ethic, personable nature, and appropriate nonprofit knowledge) are okay, you should also brainstorm with your staff to determine what specific traits would make your nonprofit office a better, more productive place.
And if you’re not sure, don’t forget that an executive search firm can analyze your organization’s needs to help you determine who an ideal candidate would be—and then find them!
5. Diversify your marketing strategy.
Once you’ve worked with your team (and in some cases, your consultant) to establish your nonprofit’s needs, and you’ve put together an awe-inspiring job listing, you’ll need to figure out how to make sure the right individuals see it.
Plenty of nonprofit professionals scour the job boards on a regular basis, but to get the word out most effectively, you should create a marketing plan that places your listing in front of the maximum number of potential contenders.
Where should your job listing find its home? Here are a few worthwhile options:
- Nonprofit and generic job boards. In this post, we’ve primarily been discussing strategies for amplifying job listings on nonprofit job sites, but generic boards (such as Indeed or Monster) can also be a viable way to attract applicants. You never know where your candidates are hiding, so diversify your approach.
- Social media. The age of social media recruiting is upon us! While you shouldn’t make Facebook, Twitter, or even LinkedIn your primary recruitment tool, social media is one of the most shareable mediums nonprofits can utilize. That being the case, it only makes sense to update your followers with opportunities (and encourage sharing!).
- Your nonprofit website. With no word limit and endless customization options, your website gives you an open forum for posting open positions. Plus, since supporters are already visiting your site to get updates or make donations, having up-to-date job listings increases the odds that a donor might apply or share your page with a qualified friend.
And while these online methods are certainly accessible and highly useful, don’t forget to take advantage of classic word-of-mouth marketing, too.
The nonprofit world is a tight-knit place, so reach out to colleagues and friendly faces in your network. You never know who’ll know someone who knows someone (who just happens to be your perfect candidate).
Navigating nonprofit job boards can be tricky, but when you approach your search strategically, you’ll be able to find your ideal applicant in no time.
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