PMA Consulting, LLC

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Kicking Off a Job Search? Advice for Nonprofits Before Getting Started

In recent years, nonprofit professions become among the fastest-growing and most competitive career paths in the country. An elevated, growing talent pool and a trend for professionals to explore cause-based careers leaves nonprofit organizations with multiple diverse candidates when looking to fill an opening on their team. An effective, thoughtful interview process is key to weeding out the best candidates and making the right decision for your organization’s future. The following strategies can help:

1. Assess your priorities, structure, and culture
It is impossible to hire the right person if you don’t know what you are looking for. When filling a key role, gather feedback from a wide range of stakeholders to reach a consensus on key priorities, skills, and character traits for the position. Analyzing and refreshing the position description will ensure alignment with and enhancement of operating priorities, organizational structure, and team culture. In cases where a consensus cannot be reached due to organizational politics, funding, or personalities, it might be best to delay the hiring process as opposed to jumping in too soon.

2. Develop a consistent, thorough evaluation process for candidates
As mentioned above in #1, before starting your interview process, meet with key leaders to outline which skills, traits, and experiences are most important for success. By creating an evaluation tool with concrete assessment metrics, you will be able to assess all candidates methodically and consistently. For example, if donor relations and fundraising will be a key focus for the new Executive Director, each candidate should be asked to complete similar exercises or answer the same questions about their experience and results in this area. A comprehensive and effective interview process has both quantitative and qualitative measurements for each candidate, making it easier to draw comparisons and evaluate your options.

3. Observe candidates carefully
Listen and watch for subtle clues into the type of teammate a candidate will be. Tone, body language, and eye contact can often tell more than any resume or perfectly-delivered pitch. Most nonprofit leadership positions require strong communication skills, poise, and an ability to connect with others. The interview process sheds light into how a person handles stress, engages with new people, and solves problems. Take note of a whether a candidate’s style and delivery would be a good fit for your unique situation.

4. Follow up with qualified candidates who did not receive the job
An effective interview process identifies many diverse and talented professionals. Keeping in touch with those candidates you consider impressive could come in handy under many future circumstances: looking for new community connections, recruiting volunteers and board members, or looking to hire for new openings. As with all aspects of managing a nonprofit, building and maintaining strong relationships is key to your success.

PMA Consulting specializes in search advisory for nonprofits, with experience in facilitating the search, hiring, and onboarding processes for new Executive Directors, Directors of Development, and key leaders. Please contact us for more information.