Develop an Effective Hiring Plan for Your Nonprofit

A common mistake made in the hiring process is an organization’s failure to first assess their current hiring needs. By overlooking this, a department may miss out on an opportunity to restructure their department or organization to fit its current need.

Assess the Hiring Need

A common mistake made in the hiring process is an organization’s failure to first assess their current hiring needs. By overlooking this, a department may miss out on an opportunity to restructure their department or organization to fit its current need.

Let’s say an administrative assistant leaves your department. The vacancy provides an opportunity for you to conduct a needs assessment.  By conducting the assessment, you may discover that you do or do not need to fill this vacancy; or you may determine that what you now need is a position that has a less administrative and more of a programmatic focus. Remember that for some funded positions, the opportunity for flexibility of job function may be limited. 

As your first step, you will want to examine some hiring fundamentals. Ask yourself as the hiring manager:

  • Is this the right job given our current goals?
  • What are the essential job functions of the position?
  • How will I ensure that our hiring process complies with employment laws
  • What kinds of previous experience and skills do we need?

If the answers to these questions point to the need to fill an existing or add a new position, then proceed with creating a hiring plan that will:

  1. List all tasks associated with the hiring process
  2. Assign tasks and responsibilities
  3. Contain timelines for the activities
  4. Determine the criteria for evaluating applicants
  5. Address the protocol for creating applicant communications and advertisements
  6. Outline how interviews will be conducted and how the information gleaned from them will be documented
  7. Clarify how the full hiring process will be documented
  8. Identify all resources needed weighed against available resources
  9. Understand compliance areas and address protocols for ensuring compliance

For each new position, you will want to review the plan and make revisions accordingly.

Tip: You can convert your hiring plan to a checklist to ensure that tasks get completed.

Determine Sustainability

Before you decide to hire for a position, you must know whether or not your nonprofit organization can afford the position. In order to make this determination, salary information is required. The salary, determined by Human Resources staff, should be based on the relative worth of the position within the organization. The implementation of a fair and equitable salary pay scale will help your nonprofit provide fair treatment of employees and avoid internal inequities.

There are a number of sources that a nonprofit organization can use to obtain salary data and other information regarding compensation. They include:

Of course, it is one thing to have a fair and equitable process for determining a salary and another to assure that you can afford to pay the salary while also taking into account your policies around salary increases, cost of living adjustments, benefits and other employee costs. Before venturing into your hiring process, make sure you are able to sustain the position by seeking this approval.

In some organizations, the approval mechanism may be as simple as having a conversation with your controller, chief financial officer or executive director. In others, there may be a more formal process requiring the completion of paperwork typically known as a position requisition.  

Tip: For positions that are dependent upon funding, you may find it helpful to develop a system for tracking the specifics of the position such as the funding source, time period, job requirements, salary, etc.

Ensure Compliance

Every nonprofit is responsible for complying with a myriad of employment laws, some of which are applicable to the hiring process. To protect your applicants and your organization, you need to know and understand your employment policies and applicable federal and state employment laws. A proactive approach can save the organization’s reputation and resources in the long run.

These employment laws exist to ensure that an employer’s hiring process is nondiscriminatory and that applicants and employees are treated fairly in all employment matters. Many of these laws are within the equal employment opportunity family. Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects disabled individuals and requires that they are judged solely on their ability to perform the essential job functions of a position, with or without reasonable accommodations. In addition, as an employer, you should know whether you are required to develop an affirmative action plan (organizations with 50 employees and 50K in federal contracts must do so). If you are required to maintain an affirmative action plan, your hiring process must have specific reporting requirements.

Tip: For further information on employment laws, contact the following regulatory agencies:

Create the Job Description

Before you begin the active hiring process it is best to have a finalized job description in writing that includes the roles and responsibilities of the position. The job description should list required competencies, experience and skills. The written job description is crucial to the hiring process for a number of reasons, as it:

  • Contains information to be included in a job announcement or advertisement
  • Informs job applicants of the expectations of the job
  • Provides the basis for selection criteria when evaluating resumes, conducting interviews and selecting candidates
  • Gives those involved in the hiring process a clear, shared understanding of the position
  • Includes information that is essential in grading a position to determine compensation
  • Ensures that your nonprofit organization can classify the position according to FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act)

Having done all of your preplanning, you are now ready to begin the hiring process.

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