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Blog: Recruiting for Nonprofits: 7 Tips to Help Attract Top Talent

Recruiting for Nonprofits: 7 Tips to Help Attract Top Talent

The world of work is changing. With the entry of Generation Z in the workplace and Millennials into more management roles, we’re seeing organizational shakeups and new expectations around when, where, and even why we work.

Workers within these two generations have gained reputations for frequently switching jobs in order to achieve the compensation, flexibility, and sense of purpose they desire. As Deloitte reports in its Global Gen Z and Millennial Survey, four in 10 Gen-Zers and nearly a quarter of Millennials want to leave their jobs within the next two years, and many of these future job-seekers want jobs that align with their values. Meaningful work that helps drive positive change is important to these generations. It also provides one key way in which nonprofits stand apart from other employers. However, this shared purpose alone is not enough to attract quality candidates. 

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With these changes within the labor market, now is an excellent time for nonprofit employers to take a fresh look at their recruitment strategy and messaging to ensure that they’re tuned in to what today’s employees want. Below, we offer seven tips to enhance recruiting for nonprofits.

1. Ensure your employer brand reflects your mission

Your employer brand is what employees think of when they hear your organization’s name. For nonprofits, this likely includes your mission. Many individuals are attracted to nonprofits because they care deeply about an issue and want to serve as an advocate. That said, you can’t assume that candidates are searching for your organization based on a shared interest.

Clear messaging around your mission will help with recruitment beyond niche job boards. This audience may not have initially considered nonprofits as an employment opportunity. However, it’s also important to highlight your organization’s culture, values, and benefits to create a picture of day-to-day work within your organization.

2. Promote inclusivity in your work environment

Employees want a work environment where they feel like they belong and that their contributions are valued. Recruiting for nonprofits is all the more impactful when the mission is aligned with inclusivity.

An emphasis on inclusivity can be communicated through clear, detailed job descriptions that encourage anyone to apply. It can be conveyed when you reach out beyond traditional recruitment websites to social media or membership societies targeted toward groups under-represented in your sector. Whatever strategies you choose, it’s important to also explicitly highlight in your recruitment messaging how inclusivity is reflected in your mission and workplace.

3. Determine how you can compete on compensation and benefits

When it comes to for-profits, a competitive salary can be the biggest differentiator in attracting top talent. But with an average salary of $67,000 a year, nonprofits tend to find compensation a sticking point in attracting top talent. It doesn’t have to be. It may be that nonprofits can offer more meaningful benefits – think volunteer time or greater work-life flexibility – that truly hit the mark for what matters to employees.

The first step to competing is to craft a compensation plan that reflects what’s expected in your sector and region. Your industry association may be able to provide salary data for your sector. While nonprofits may not be able to offer a salary as high as their for-profit peers, it shouldn’t be too far off the mark either. Location-based salary surveys may be available through the local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, among other sources.

4. Provide opportunities for professional development

Job candidates want to know they will be able to grow and develop within your organization. When recruiting for nonprofits, encourage these conversations so that candidates understand how you aim to support them. Professional development doesn’t always require funding. Mentorships are a cost-effective strategy for building job skills and deeper knowledge in your sector. Simply affording individuals the time to attend conferences or pursue additional training or higher education can be a powerful enticement.

5. Identify career path opportunities and limitations

Prospective employees want to know what a future with your nonprofit holds for them, but it can be hard for smaller nonprofits to offer a comprehensive career path. It is important to have these conversations upfront and ensure that candidates understand potential opportunities for growth.

Individuals should recognize that there may be some limitations in how far they can go in a short amount of time at a small nonprofit. That doesn’t mean there’s not an opportunity to grow – it may simply require more patience as opportunities for advancement may take longer to arise. In the meantime, career mapping can help nonprofits and employees identify those opportunities and a potential timeline for advancement. It may also help to focus on growing impact over growing into clearly delineated roles.

6. Recognize and reward employees

Employees appreciate being recognized for their hard work. Taking the time to recognize and reward employees for their accomplishments can build engagement and loyalty. This can be done through formal recognition programs, such as awards, or through informal recognition, such as public praise, thank you notes, and kudos on internal chats. Public recognition that celebrates employees on social media channels can also serve as an extension of your employer brand.

7. Track employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. Take time to understand what makes your current employees happy in their jobs, that they’re finding the sense of meaning they expected in their role, and are developing in a way that they find satisfying. Make sure, too, that your people feel they are able to talk about their experience with their managers and are getting regular feedback.

It can help to have an employee experience diagram that provides a clear visual of what employees should expect in terms of the workplace culture and how management accessibility and feedback delivery will meet these expectations. This tool, alongside surveys and interviews with team members, can ensure expectations are being met.

Attract top talent with a strong recruitment strategy

Recruiting, for nonprofits, is an opportunity to express how your organization can offer employees the meaning they seek in their careers. With these tips, nonprofits can begin to craft a competitive strategy for attracting candidates from a broader pool than ever.

Ready for one more tip? The most impactful way to enhance your recruitment strategy is to outsource your nonprofit’s HR management to a third-party expert. Reach out to Vault Consulting at any time to learn more about how we can help attract top talent while you focus on your mission.

Kendra Janevski, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Kendra Janevski, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Kendra’s varied background in non-profit organizations, associations and consulting is the perfect fit to lead Vault’s outsourced HR business unit. She drives creative process improvement for internal systems, designs forward-thinking policies and programs,...
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