Avoid these Nonprofit Hiring Mistakes

by Staffer Team

Successive poor hires can have profound consequences. The agency’s strategy, staff morale and reputation in the community may all be negatively affected. It becomes even more important in this type of environment to ensure the hiring process is done efficiently, and reaps the best candidates for the senior roles they are looking to fill. Here are 3 costly hiring mistakes nonprofits tend to make and suggestions for how to avoid them.

  • Multi-Headed Full Time Employee
  • Problem: Nonprofits have a variety of needs and scarcity of eligible full time employees. Commonly, an open position may be broken down into something like: ½ grant writing, ¼ social media, and ¼ administrative support. Few candidates can perform well in all of these categories, which results in dispersed focus.
  • Solution: Consider outsourcing experts. The value of higher-quality work, more flexibility, and not having to manage in-house staff may be worth it.

  • The Hopeful Hire
  • Problem: The belief that “He can grow into this role” may have fatal consequences for a nonprofit. The hopeful thinking that nonprofit executives possess shouldn’t carry into their hiring process. Similar standards should be applied as if the candidate was applying for a sales role. They should meet the requirements and be eager to learn and grow. Don’t settle!
  • Solution: An HR professional can help guide your candidate decision. Asking your board or network if they know anyone who would be willing to volunteer their time is a great way to start!

  • Low Quality Pool
  • Problem: Nonprofits often have a thin candidate pool by the nature of their companies. While nonprofits don’t have the pay to drive recruiting, they usually offer a better cause and more flexible lifestyle. Both are important factors in attracting talent. 
  • Solution: Building your network beyond the nonprofit world can be largely beneficial. Create relationships with people in the corporate world that don’t involve immediately asking for money. Asking for help on talent scouting is a natural way to engage people with your cause.

Despite challenges that nonprofits frequently face in the hiring process, there are several ways to get the best candidates. Stick with the hiring process until you’ve found the perfect new hire!

Sources: https://www.bridgespan.org/insights/library/hiring/top-10-tips-running-hiring-process; https://ssir.org/articles/entry/three_nonprofit_hiring_mistakes_to_avoid

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