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Filling jobs

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QUESTION:

What are the three most important considerations in finding a fit between a nonprofit and a job candidate?

ANSWER:

Finding the right person for leadership at a nonprofit is both an art and a science.  There are several keys to keep in mind:

* Know what you want.

It is impossible to find the right person if you don’t know what you want in a leader.

Considerable time and effort should be spent upfront to define the functions of the position and the characteristics and skills of the right person to fill the position.

Involve board, staff, volunteers, clients, or anyone who will have a stake in this person’s leadership.

With a clear picture of what is needed, many candidates can be eliminated and the nonprofit can concentrate on those who fit the bill.

* Really look.

Placing an ad in the paper and waiting for resumes to float in is not a good strategy for finding top leaders.

The best candidates aren’t looking for you; you are looking for them.

Tap into your network of supporters, volunteers and board members to identify the best leaders.

Then directly contact those candidates and recruit them to serve your organization.

It takes extra time and even some wooing, but you’ll find the quality of leaders this process produces is well worth the effort.

* Consider the “Show Horse vs. Plow Horse” syndrome.

In his book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins explains the characteristics of truly great leaders.

In your interviews with prospective candidates, you may be attracted to the most dynamic interviewees.

Take another look.

That person may be what Jim Collins refers to as a “show horse” — a person whose personality is larger than life and who is keen on making an impression.

Collins’ research found leaders who are more reserved and thoughtful are often a better choice to help your organization thrive.

— Compiled by Caroline Monday


Rebecca Worters is principal for the Capability Company, a Raleigh-based consulting firm with offices in Indianapolis that focuses solely on helping nonprofits recruit leaders.

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