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4 Tips for Finding the Right Talent for Your New Nonprofit

A professional interviews a job candidate.

With nearly 70% of employed adults in the United States working in the for-profit world, nonprofits like yours need to have a strong hiring approach in order to keep up. Competing with businesses to attract candidates to your nonprofit organization and the nonprofit sector in general can present challenges, especially for new nonprofits. However, once you launch your nonprofit and set the foundation for steady growth, you can achieve your hiring goals with savvy strategies.

In this guide, we’ll review the top hiring strategies that your nonprofit can learn from businesses to create your dream team. As we review these tips, consider how your nonprofit has handled hiring in the past (or if your organization is brand new, how other organizations you’ve worked with have handled it). Then, consider your current resources and how they would improve hiring outcomes, so you can start building your strategy.

1. Understand the nuances of talent acquisition and recruitment.

You might operate under the assumption that talent acquisition and recruitment are interchangeable, but to create a strong long-term strategy, you need to understand the differences between these two concepts. They’re both important in different ways for your hiring goals.

According to Jobvite, “recruitment is reactive, focusing on filling vacancies as efficiently as possible…talent acquisition, on the other hand, is an ongoing approach…[focused] on long-term human resources planning by investing time and resources in building relationships with potential candidates, promoting employer branding, and developing a talent pipeline.”

Since you represent a new nonprofit, you should consider talent acquisition and recruitment in your hiring plans. Laying the groundwork right away for both approaches can help you create the most informed hiring decisions down the line. Start by considering your immediate needs—do you have the resources to bring on part- or full-time employees, or do you need to grow more first?

Even if you don’t need additional hands right now, you can look into the future with a talent acquisition lens. Based on your projected growth goals, when will you need to start hiring employees, where will you source them, and how will you structure the hiring process? Answer questions with recruitment and talent acquisition in mind to focus your hiring efforts from the get-go.

2. Leverage hiring data.

If you find yourself stumped by some of the questions from the previous step, data can help. By using recruitment data, you can determine an ideal candidate’s qualifications,identify sourcing channels, and better predict your future hiring needs. Lever recommends collecting and analyzing data, using hiring software that:

  • Integrates with your current HR tools. Seamless integration between your HR tools  ensures you can turn new hires into productive employees, and streamlines your daily operations.
  • Simplifies data hygiene. The best hiring software identifies bottlenecks, eliminates data silos, and presents data clearly to make better recruiting decisions.
  • Reveals top sourcing channels. Keep track of all of your sourcing channels, so you know where your best candidates come from can strengthen your relationships with them.
  • Tracks relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). The best way to determine and capitalize on your hiring strengths is to give them shape with data. Your software should be able to track the KPIs you need to succeed.

Remember to test out the software before you make any big purchasing decisions through free demos and product tours, so you can select the right solution for your needs.

3. Define the core aspects of your employer brand.

Just as your nonprofit’s brand helps to secure new donors, you need to cultivate your brand as an employer for recruitment marketing purposes. Your employer brand allows your nonprofit to attract candidates who identify with your mission and collaborate effectively with the rest of your team. To establish your employer brand, determine the following components:

  • What it’s like truly to work in your nonprofit
  • Your employer value proposition (EVP)
  • Key areas that set you apart from competitors
  • Organizational values and culture
  • Recognition and reward systems
  • Employee success stories and testimonials
  • Employee giving programs

As you build out these elements of your employer brand, ensure your mission remains at the center of every branding decision you make. For example, let’s say your organization’s mission is to help youth improve their literacy and overall academic performance. You could offer professional development classes as an employment benefit to align with your mission. And remember to update your employer brand accordingly if your mission changes over time.

4. Leverage your network for referrals.

Creating relationships with entirely new audiences can be challenging, so your nonprofit should use the existing connections in its network to facilitate the process. Starting a referral program can help you get the word out about your job openings and attract applicants who already value the work nonprofits do. Follow these steps to launch your referral program:

  1. Determine which roles you should prioritize hiring for based on your hiring plan
  2. Consult your financial records to decide how much value you can allot to each referral reward
  3. Create a marketing plan for promoting your referral program
  4. Spread the word by speaking on panels, posting on social media, and more
  5. Provide rewards for every referral (especially referrals that yield a new hire)

As you start collecting referrals, make sure that your program abides by your organization’s bylaws in terms of equal access. If you have some employees already, make the referral program a part of onboarding, so they have as much time as possible to reach out to qualified candidates.

Remember, taking both recruitment and talent acquisition into account is important when establishing your hiring strategies. This also means that your hiring approach won’t come together overnight. With a clear long-term vision, savvy resource allocation, and an understanding of how your hiring aligns with the mission of your nonprofit, you’ll start reaching the right talent and can set your organization for long-term success.

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