Is Your Nonprofit Ready To Hire?

November 15, 2013       The NonProfit Times      

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The war for talent is more intense than ever and the organizations that win that battle have the opportunity to rise to the top. Bringing on new employees is more than just putting an ad on an online job board, however; you have to make sure your organization is ready to hire. In the book "Nonprofit Management 101" James Weinberg and Cassise Scarano, co-founders at Commongood Careers, wrote about the steps nonprofits need to take before they can begin hiring new employees. The first thing they suggest is to slow down. "Making a bad hire is much more costly than operating without a hire for a few more weeks," they explained. To back this claim up, Weinberg and Scarano cited the experiences of one of their clients. This particular organization was so anxious to fill a program assistant position that they hired one of the first candidates they met. Six months later, the position was vacant again. Weinberg and Scarano suggested the organization would have been better off had their managers followed a thorough hiring process. Here are the three steps they recommend hiring managers take before they start their search for new workers:

  • Conduct a thorough assessment of your organization. What are your major needs and what functional roles are required to meet those? While hiring for the exact same position that is being vacated might seem like a good idea, Weinberg and Scarano argue that since organizations change and grow over time, what was needed in the past is most likely not what is needed for the future.
  • As you are scoping roles, make sure that they are realistic, appealing, and strategic. Avoid lumping too many different types of responsibilities into one position. To emphasize the need to think creatively when creating job descriptions, Weinberg and Scarano told the story of one nonprofit that outsourced bookkeeping to one firm and brought on a part-time consultant to act as CFO when they realized they didn't require a full-time, senior level finance position.
  • Finally, the two authors wrote that the most effective hiring processes are built around a competency model. This is a predetermined set of experiences, hard and soft skills, and competencies that will make a candidate successful in a particular role.