Improving Recruiting and Retention

WorkforNonprofits.org released its results from a recent survey on nonprofit employment practices. The data showed recruitment in the nonprofit sector continues to challenge organizations nationwide. Of the 68 percent of nonprofits that will create new full-time positions this year, only 20 percent are increasing recruitment budgets. In a sector where burnout and high turnover rates are all too common, recruiting and retention become a challenge for even the best-performing organizations.

Many organizations are stuck in the past when it comes to recruiting, sticking only to traditional strategies like newspaper classifieds and Web site placements. These do have a degree of success and may have worked well in the past, but in today’s evolving world, those simple strategies may not be enough to attract the top-level talent you seek.

Below is a list of tips and strategies you can implement to improve your recruiting and employee retention.

1. Do a survey of all hires and ask them why they accepted the job.

Your current employees took the job for a reason and will more than likely be very candid about why they accepted and what reservations they might have had. They may also make you aware of any current issues that might be negatively effecting their employment with your organization as well as any positives that you can emphasize to a new candidate.

2. Pitch your mission.

The Brookings Institute did a study and found that almost 60% of nonprofit employees surveyed took their jobs “to help the public, not for the job security.” What does this mean? Emphasize your organizations goals, mission, and values when recruiting and make candidates aware of the opportunities they will have to make a difference in the community and the world.

3. Consider your donors and volunteers as a recruiting source.

Donors and volunteers respect your organization enough to donate time and money so it makes sense that they would also want to help out in other important ways like recruiting. Keep key donors and volunteers up to date on any openings within your organization and have them help in looking for good prospects.

4. Start forecasting the future and stop reacting to the present.

In today’s media driven world, there is an abundance of in-depth analysis on every industry, including nonprofits. Watch unemployment rates, business cycles, and the changing needs of your customers. Don’t just react to problems or job vacancies as they arise, you have the tools and resources at your disposal to see them coming and to plan ahead.

5. Identify how your employment practices differ from your direct competitors.

If you don’t think you are competing with other nonprofits in your area for applicants you’re already behind. You can't beat the competitor if you all do the same things the same way. Differentiate yourselves during any recruiting process with an open house event or add unique perks towards a compensation package.

6. Research the going rate.

Nonprofit salaries can vary between sectors, positions, and region. Take the time to research the going rate for the position you seek to fill and set your compensation accordingly. Doing your homework may make it easier to find support to subsidize the costs of a new hire through a donor.

7. Develop a job rotation program.

Give your current employees a breadth of exposure to all aspects of your organizations operations by rotating jobs periodically. This will give your employees more insight into all aspects of your organizations processes, increase job satisfaction, and leave you less vulnerable if an employee decides to leave.

8. Develop and sponsor Internet business chat rooms and list servers to develop relationships with potential applicants.

Everyone is becoming more internet-savvy each day, particularly job seekers. The more you can establish a presence online, the more it will benefit your organization in many ways, even recruiting.

9. Track applicants that turned down offers and contact them again at periodic intervals.

Keep in touch with applicants that turned down an offer. Contact them 3 to 6 months later to check on the status of their current position. The job they accepted may not be panning out the way they envisioned.

10. Give applicants a pre-assignment to evaluate your organization and have them bring their solution to the interview.

A great way to sift through applicants and find the gems is to have them develop a 30/60/90 day plan on what they would do if they were offered the job. You will get a valuable perspective on their work ethic and skills.

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