At some point (maybe even right now?) you will be looking for a new team member. You may have a new project for which you need extra hands. Or someone may have moved on, and you may need a replacement. Or you are growing as an organization. So that you can add a new position, separating out tasks that are done by one or more other people on your team right now. Whichever the case may be, how to go about it? How to find your new team member?
For starters, you need to develop a good job profile or description of the job. What is the key objective of the position? Where is it placed within the organization? Who is the manager the person will answer to? Who can the person in the job replace and who will replace them in case of annual or sick leave? What are result areas and related concrete tasks the job is there to address? Which competencies do you expect someone holding the job to display? What are key qualifications needed?
It helps to do this with your team. If it concerns a position that is new to the organization, as ask around in peer organizations for tips. Maybe they have experience with the position and can let you interview someone from their team doing that job. Even if you have someone doing the job already, whether they are leaving or not, it is good to go through the profile together. So that you can make sure it is still all valid and up to date.
You can draft a text for a job ad using key elements of the job profile, combined with more general information about your organization and its mission. A job ad should also include information about the kind of person you are looking for in terms of qualifications and competencies. But other characteristics may also be relevant. The ad will also include contact information in case of further inquiries. And of course a deadline for submitting an application and details of what that should look like.
Nowadays, many organizations understand that a diverse work force is helpful to them. With people with difference backgrounds and perspectives you are able to look at challenges from more different viewpoints and are more likely to find a solution that works. Your network is broadened. And people in the community you serve will feel more at home if they recognize themselves in your team and if it feels that your team recognizes them and their challenges. Just imagine that you are serving young girls with a team consisting of only elderly men. How are they to know what young girls nowadays face? And could young girls feel safe in sharing sensitive thoughts with people they might perceive as higher in a hierarchy? In other words, could your team function effectively this way?
Affirmative action or discrimination
If you feel you need diversity in your team and if that requires a successful applicant to be something (or to not be something) you may want to refer to this in your job ad. For instance, by saying that in case of equal qualifications, your preference is to hire a woman. Or by writing that you encourage people with a migration background to apply.
Whether and how you can do this within the law depends on your local context. In some countries anti-discrimination policies prohibit you from not hiring someone because of their age or because they are pregnant. In other countries there are official affirmative action policies in place which make it possible to preferentially hire people from so-called marginalized groups. Sometimes such policies apply to certain sectors or positions, like in countries where the government wants to support more women getting hired for top positions in the business sector. So exactly how you can formulate any preferences you may have, depends on the context you operate in and is likely subject to change. Meaning that you need to apprise yourself regularly of what the rules are for you to play by.
Once you have your ad running and people start applying, make sure you collect all information properly. Keep in mind this is confidential information that not everyone in your organization should have access to. Keep in mind also that after the procedure is finalized, you will need to destroy any information about unsuccessful candidates, unless you have requested and received approval otherwise.
Make a grid to score the applicants so that you can determine who meets the minimum criteria and who does not. This will help you identify who to invite for an interview. But it also helps you justify and explain those choices, for instance to unsuccessful candidates. For some people it works to score everyone when their papers arrive, for others it works best to score them all in one go.
Make sure you plan your interviews well: who will be present at the interview? See if you can make the team of interviewers as representative of the whole team as possible. What are general questions you want to ask each candidate? What specific questions do you have for certain applicants? Do you have concerns regarding their application? Think about whether you want to present a case and ask the candidate how they would handle that situation. Leave sufficient time for the person to ask questions, too. This, too, can provide you with important insights.
Conflict of interest
Keep in mind that in general it is not done for nonprofits to employ a (close) family member in your team, especially not if that person would be working under your supervision. This is considered a conflict of interest. Since nonprofits often use public funding, taxpayer’s money, they need to account for how they spend it quite scrupulously. And this includes avoiding conflicts of interest, where hiring a new team member would directly increase your family’s income or your standing in your family or circle of friends for instance.
My best tip is to always follow your heart or your gut or whatever you call that feeling that does not come from your rational mind. Can you see yourself working with the person? Can you imagine how you would feel then? Sometimes people who have more to learn can be more suitable to the team and to the work you want to do with the community you serve.
Have you seen my checklist?
If you are interested in organizing your staff files, you can get my free Staff File Completeness Checklist here.
Want to know more and ask questions?
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You can join my free Facebook group how to become a professional and resilient nonprofit with Suzanne Bakker here. In this group we will create a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.