Finding a Needle in a Haystack in a Tight Nonprofit Job Market
I have been involved in many nonprofit job searches through the years. At times, I have had many quality candidates for a position. At other times, I couldn’t find a quality candidate for a position. Some searches were relatively fast and others painfully slow. In the last several years, with a very tight job market, I have seen candidate behavior changes. In one case, I had two candidates accept written offers only to immediately decide to take another position with another nonprofit organization. In another case, I had a position open for months with few quality candidates. With the employment rate between 3 and 4 percent, you must retain employees or suffer gaps in team productivity.
The Indianapolis nonprofit job market has been tight for a while. According to Indianapolis Business Journal, a tight job market can be tough, especially for organizations that have limited resources and a budget at the mercy of donations and grants.
Some local entities have increased their attention on retaining existing staff, encouraging volunteers to move into paid positions and expanding searches by targeting recent graduates. Another issue is that many nonprofits do not have a recruitment plan or formal retention plan. It is especially noted that the social service industry has high turnover levels. Another reason for turnover relates to the need for higher paying jobs. In other cases, people leave because of a toxic work environment or poor leadership. For many, employees stay because of a positive work experience.
How do you find quality individuals to fill positions in a tight job market?
Advisor Perspectives provides suggestions to improve your hiring processes:
- Be sure you talk about the culture of your firm and the type of person who fits well within your organization in your job description.
- Cast a wide but targeted net. LinkedIn can be a great place to find job candidates, but one must be highly targeted.
- Be sure to include behavioral and cultural questions early in the interview process.
- Engage your current employees in the search process.
Paycore notes that hiring managers in every industry, including nonprofits, are concerned about the lack of available talent. According to Gallup, about a third of today’s workforce is made up of 75 million Baby Boomers. InvestoPedia indicates that about 10,000 Boomers a day are retiring. Factoring in Generation X workers and Millennial workers, there is a shortage of skilled and experience workers to replace others who are either retiring or going from full-time to part-time. Tips for helping your business survive the new economy include: retain the talent you have, engage the talent you have, develop a recruiting pipeline, optimize your benefits and benchmark your compensation.
A recent HireVelocity blog pointed out that 2011 recruiting tactics will not work in today’s market environment.
Consider eight practical recruiting tips to get you started:
- Recruit beyond the job board by using social media, referrals, personal connections, general networking and any other relevant channel.
- Tap into overlooked talent pools, such as veterans and long-term unemployed, by going to job seeker services, employment offices and job fairs.
- Stop hunting for purple squirrels by hiring for a cultural fit and train for skills.
- Rethink requirements and adjust job descriptions that broaden the possibility net.
- Hang out in different social media “right places,” such as Stack Overflow, Doximity or Quora;
- Build your own talent pipeline by evaluating current employees and determining which employees can be promoted.
- Crush it with the candidate process by streamlining your search process to make faster hiring decisions.
- Make the offer attractive in compensation, job environment and culture.
A Nonprofit HR report notes that hiring qualified staff with limited budget constraints continues to be the top talent management challenge for nonprofits for the sixth year in a row. Nonprofits need a plan to attract employees since it may take more time to find the right candidate.
The report also indicates that 81 percent of nonprofits have no retention program. The nonprofit sector, in general, has not felt the need to invest in employee acquisition or retention because the field offered employees the benefit of satisfaction from purpose driven work. With suggested employees’ motivations changing, that edge might be weakening. Nonprofits need to develop initiatives that offer what workers want in the form of wages and an environment where skills can be built, and intelligence and passion can be well deployed.
To find the needle in the haystack in today’s job market, I make the following suggestions:
- Work by teaming up with your HR department to discuss current issues and seek ways to work closer together to enhance your employment product.
- Look closely at your current organization and reorganize to give those with potential greater opportunities.
- Advertise your organization as” the place to work” for a variety of reasons.
- Seek to stem employee attrition and seek ways to improve retention.
- Look at your last five years of staff turnover and pinpoint the most problematic employment area.
- Think like a job candidate and determine ways to improve the job hiring process.
- Mentor others in your geographical area, as they could be your next future hires.
- Adjust job descriptions if you are not securing candidates.
- Try your best to make ROI a factor in improving compensation packages.
- If you cannot fill positions after a long time, consider eliminating the position and restructure your operation.
With the right focus and attention, you will find the needle in the haystack. It will help if you have a magnetic pickup tool for needles!!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.