Friday, April 19, 2013

Recruiting talented nonprofit staff members and leaders

By Marie Vrubelova

Growing demand for talent is one of the biggest challenges for the nonprofit sector, as discussed in The Leadership Deficit by Thomas Thierney. Therefore, nonprofit leaders must learn to build a solid talent foundation in order to succeed.

Here are few suggestions for recruiting talented staff and building a strong employee foundation from Building Talent Pipeline:

Take developing a strategic plan seriously
Hiring talented and skilled staff is the key in the nonprofit sector. In order to recruit the right person for each position, start thinking about the positions in strategic terms: what skills, behavior, and experience those positions require? Recruiting based on only a job description is simply not enough.

Networking, networking, networking

Nonprofit sector is basically one big family and therefore current and former employees present an excellent and fairly reliable source for leads and recommendations.
Further, when you partner up with other institutions you might be able to locate talented staff members faster and it has proved to be a more reliable hiring strategic as well.

Keep it in the family
Look into your present staff members. You might be surprised - you might have already hired the best candidate! Regular reviews, professional development, and continuous training for the current team members might be a great way to start building your own talent base.

Think outside the box
The economy is bad. We do not have enough this and that and, as stated, there are many obstacles for a nonprofit organization. It is time to get creative and get the best people for your organization. Peter Goldberg offers a great recommendation in his article Work with the DataWith new forms of education, an alternative kind of professional development might attract just the right candidate for your organization. Fellowships and other types of internships within your organization or with your partner organization might be what will make you stand out. What is more, you will work on your sustainable talent foundation.

In the present global environment, personnel migration is one of the biggest phenomena. Take advantage of it and help your candidates to relocate their families, help them to choose the best school for their children, to buy a new house, etc. Take the time to get to know your candidate and try to be responsive.

It is imperative to realize that successful and effective recruitment is crucial for sustainability of any nonprofit organization. Consequently, as Lee Mizell suggests in her article The Sustainable Nonprofit, it is important to devote enough time and resources for the hiring process. People make organizations work, so make it clear in your organization that hiring talented staff members is not the responsibility only for the human resources department.

Sites with further reading and tips for hiring talented staff members:


  1. Nice post! When you mentioned having a partner organization the first thing that came to my mind was a sort of staff exchange. I know that nonprofit staff tend to burn out quickly, I wonder if having the opportunity to trade staff positions with another nonprofit could help alleviate this, as well as the need to do expensive staff searches.

  2. Hi Jessica,
    that is a great idea! I am sure that some organizations do staff exchange - even though I can see why that might be troubling at some aspects (employees must adapt to a different environment), overall I think that all parties can only benefit from something like this.

    Do you think that some organizations might not be fond of this idea, as they would not want to share their "know-how", their secret? Because ofter a certain period of time, the employee will go back to their home organization ... what do you think?

  3. Hey Marie,
    I thought you did a great job with this post. I really enjoyed your thoughts on thinking outside of the box. Setting yourself as an organization can truly attract the best and brightest to one's organization. I loved how you brought up that organizations must go the extra mile. Help families move and get settled in is something that truly sets organizations apart. This makes workers feel welcomed and wanting to tell others about the organization they go to work for. Again good post.

  4. Thank you, Tim!
    As far as going the extra mile for your potential employee, I believe it is very important. And the employer does not have to buy them a house or anything extravagant like that. Simple suggestions like what neighborhood to look into while settling down might go a long way.


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