Mind Shifts to Transform your Hiring Process – Part II : Successful Nonprofits

Mind Shifts to Transform your Hiring Process – Part II

Mind Shifts to Transform your Hiring Process – Part II

by goldenburggroup

Have you ever hired someone you thought would be great, but realized you made a huge mistake within the first few weeks or months?  You are not alone – lots of people have made this mistake. Which is why part two of this episode explores everything to do once you post the position. We’ll uncover some of the secrets to determining if a person can actually do the job and ways to make your next hiring process more inclusive.

 

Listen in below!

Referenced Resources

Candidate Assignment PDF (Link)

Questions to Ask References (Link)

 

Timestamped Highlights

(3:57) The seven stages of an effective recruitment process.

(5:00) Drafting and posting your job description

(7:40) Should you have a minimum period for posting a job opening?

(9:35) Here’s a radical idea: Hold a candidate conference

(13:30) Here’s another radical idea: Give candidates assignments

(31:25) Six things you must do to research your final candidate

 

Episode 137 Transcript

Dolph Goldenburg (00:00)
Welcome to the successful nonprofits podcast. I’m your host doff Goldenberg and this is part two of our series on mind shifts to transform your hiring process. Before we jump into the rest of the mind shifts, though there is something that I need to get off my chest. Now, I’ve been hosting the podcast for about three and a half years and it is done well enough that publicists will reach out to me almost every day and so at least once a day a publicist sends me an email and pitches a prospective guest. I don’t mind that. In fact, sometimes it’s helpful because I’d say probably about one out of every five or six prospective guests, I’m like, wow, this person would be a great guest. You, our listeners would love to hear from them. I want to get them on. Well today, a publicist pitched a guest who was a fundraiser for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign and he also worked for an organization that sells books with titles like help my teen struggles with same-sex attraction.

(01:06)
And by the way, I checked out the preview on Amazon and it actually includes the phrase homosexual center. Now, this was an easy no for me to make to the publicist because we are unabashedly progressive and we are unabashedly liberal. But I thought, huh, this palace just really did a poor job and deciding to pitch us. So I went and checked out their website and they specialize in quote-unquote faith-based PR. Their clients include the creation museum in an organization that is seeking to convert Jewish people and of course several homophobic thought leaders and I put thought leaders in air quotes if you could see it. Now, I have always said that the successful nonprofits podcast is unabashedly progressive, but I guess I also need to make it clear that we are pro-gay, pro-trans, pro-choice and pro-science. We intentionally do not feature bigots hate mongers and those who want to restrict the rights of women and LGBTQ plus folk.

(02:14)
Now, I assume if you’re listening to this, you may have already figured that out, but if for some reason you really do want to hear from hate mongers from homophobes, from transphobes, and from others, then I would suggest that this is not the best podcast for you to listen to. So if you’re sticking around, I assume you’re down for liberal, progressive nonprofit thought leaders. Now with my little two-minute rant out of the way, let’s move on with the topic that we’re going to talk about, which is part two of transforming your hiring process. Now, as you may recall, in part one we talked about the five mind shifts that will help you have a more effective recruitment process. And the first one was stop lying to candidates. The second was you can’t fix fit. The third is that an empty seat is better than a bad hire.

(03:12)
The fourth is to encourage candidates to fat you. And of course the fifth, and I guess this makes my rant kind of appropriate, is that you must commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout your recruitment process. So those were the five mind shifts that we covered in the last episode might be worth the listen. If you do not already here, it might be worth to listen to. Go back and listen to that one as well. Today we’ll we’re going to be talking about though is your actual recruitment process. Everything from the moment that you are getting ready to post the position to the moment that that person accepts the position and everything in between.

(03:54)
Now as we think about this, there probably are about seven stages of the recruitment process. The first stage, of course, is putting together your position, announcement and job description and posting it widely. The second stage is your resume screen. The third is if it’s a management position, kind of an information session. This will be new for a lot of listeners, so make sure that you stay on for this third piece, which is the information session. The fourth is an assignment for the candidate. That also, by the way, might be new for some of the listeners. It’s kind of this radical idea of let’s give our candidates an assignment, make sure they can actually do the job. The fifth is your interview itself. The sixth is research that you’re going to do on your top candidate or candidates, and of course, the last one is a negotiation.

(04:49)
So we’re going to talk about negotiating with your final candidate. Now in the first episode, we already chatted a good little bit about how to put together your job description and the importance of having both minimum qualifications and preferred qualifications listed separately. The only other thing I want to make sure that I say about your job description is please do not overinflate the qualifications. Ask yourself, do we really need someone with a graduate degree or would we prefer someone with a graduate degree? Now obviously as an example, if this is a therapist position, not only do you need someone with a graduate degree, but you probably need someone with an LMSW, LCSW, LPC, or other licensure. But if this is a case management position, do you really need someone with an MSW or do you prefer someone with an MSW? Now once you have put together your job description, you’ve kind of vetted that within your own organization.

(05:48)
It is now time to post that job description. And so there’s a handful of things I want you to be thinking about. The first is to make that you post internally, you want all of your staff to know that you value them and you want all of your team members to know that they have mobility opportunities. Some of those might be outboard, some of those might be lateral, but you want everybody to know that they have mobility within your organization. So make sure you post internally. Second, make sure that you also post externally but do it widely. So don’t just post in work for good or idealist and say, well we posted it in that one place. Are there other community publications or community job listings or bulletin boards where you can be posting this position? And of course when I say bulletin board, I mean the electronic kind and not the bulletin board of your grocery store.

(06:40)
I don’t even know if grocery stores still have both and boards where people would post jobs. But you know the electronic types of bulletin boards, so posed externally as widely as you can, make sure you also get it on your website. Um, and also make sure then that you send it out to some key stakeholders. Are there stakeholders in the community that you should be sending it to because they might know folks? Are there funders that you could send it to that’s just critically important to get this out? Absolutely. As widely as you can. And the last thing is when you post your position, make sure that you’re really clear about what the minimum period is. What I normally suggest is that you post an exempt position for at least three weeks and a non-exempt position for at least two weeks. Keeping in mind that exempt is typically thought of as salaried and non-exempt is typically thought of as hourly and typically more your direct service types of folks.

(07:38)
It is absolutely critical that you not only have a minimum period that a position will be open for, but that you include that in the posting and then all of your communications when you’re emailing out about it. The reason is that you want to give all candidates a fair opportunity to apply. I have seen a lot of organizations where maybe they already have a favorite candidate or two in mind, and so they’ll post for two or three or four days or a week and then they’ll close the posting and they’ll interview and they’ll hire someone. But if we’re serious about diversity, equity and inclusion, and we are trying to go broadly to diverse communities and we’re also going to stakeholders in those communities, we have to give those stakeholders and opportunity enough time that is to send the job posting to others, have them think about it, and have them draft a thoughtful, really intentional cover letter that they’re going to submit with their resume.

(08:36)
Now if you’re like me, you’re going to post a position, you’re going to post it widely. You may get 125 to 175 resumes, and so the first big thing that you want to do is you want to do a quick what is sometimes called an executive sort of those resumes. You’re going to end up with two stacks. One stack, people who are qualified, one stack people who are not qualified. And again, these are people who meet your minimum qualifications, not your preferred qualifications. So if your job openings or anything like my experience, while you might get 150 resumes, there may only be 15 or 18 people who meet those minimum qualifications. I would encourage you to move every one of those candidates forward in some way if they meet the bare minimum qualifications. So let’s bifurcate this real quick. We’re gonna take, we’re going to take a quick, um, side trip if it’s a management position versus a nonmanagement position.

(09:40)
If this is a management position that you’re hiring for, I would actually recommend that you put together a candidate conference and you invite every single person who is qualified to come to that candidate conference if at all possible. You also want to have a remote option, whether it’s through Skype or blue jeans or GoTo meeting or something like that. But what you’re going to do is you’re going to invite all qualified candidates. They’ll have the opportunity to participate in the conference in that conference. You as the hiring manager will actually be doing most of the talking cause. What you’re doing is you’re going to give every single candidate sort of an orientation on the organization and the position, so the first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to describe the position and then of course you’re going to talk about the challenges that any candidate will have coming into that position and that’s probably challenges for the department that they’re going to be managing when outlining those challenges, don’t forget to be brutally honest, don’t lie to the candidates.

(10:41)
If the department has high attrition, say the department has high attrition, if the department is understaffed because of lack, lack of funding, say that to the candidate. Hey, we added two positions out of eight that were cut over the last year and we’re now really stretched thin in this department. It’s important to be honest with the candidates. I know we talked about that in the first episode of this series, but I just cannot say that enough. It is so important to be honest. Now just as you’re going to talk about challenges, you’re also going to be pretty upfront and honest about both the strengths of the department and the strength of the organization. Everything’s not about, Hey, here’s where we have challenges, here’s where we’re weak. It’s also here some of the other assets and strains that we are going to be able to bring to you if you get this job to help you do this job well.

(11:32)
The next thing you’re going to do is you’re going to explain the process to every single person around that table. And again, this for me is a diversity, equity and inclusion step that you should be taking. So instead of you having one on one conversations with candidates about the process and because when you do have those one on one conversations, the candidates that you are inclined to like the best be the ones that you maybe give the best information to and that you spend the most time with. So instead in this group setting, you are going to share the information about the process. And then the last two things you’ll do, you’re going to give everybody their assignment. Everyone’s going to have the same assignment. That’s where we’re going to talk about next and then you’re going to answer any questions. The other thing that I will typically do is since I’m already doing the candidate conference remotely, I record it and I can make a copy of that recording available for everyone that participates in the Canada conference as well as anyone who might not have been able to attend the Canada conference and again for me that’s just a way that I can ensure that all candidates have a level and clear playing field.

(12:39)
If in that Q and a section though there is something that I say, Oh, I’ll need to put some information together and send that back out, I send that out to every single candidate that participated in the candidate conference and then anyone who RSVP it and said they could not participate but still wanted to be participating in the process. Again, this is all about a level playing field for everybody. Now let’s turn our attention to that assignment that you are going to be giving candidates. Before we talk about that assignment, let me just quickly say that we had to swap out microphones. So you will undoubtedly notice a change in the tone of the recording. And again that’s just because we went from the Roadster, um, microphone to the Yeti microphone. Sorry for the disruption. But so now let’s talk about that assignment. Really there are multiple reasons why you want to be giving your candidates assignments.

(13:36)
The very first is that you want to be able to assess the candidate’s ability to perform actual tasks required for the position. And so as an example, if the person is an accountant, you want to make sure that they not only understand theoretically accounting, but they can actually do what you need. Whether that’s processing accounts payable, accounts receivable, a balance, the checking account, whatever. If the candidate is going to be an outreach and prevention worker, you need to make sure that they’re comfortable having whatever conversations it is they’re going to be having in nonjudgmental non-stigmatizing ways. The second reason for you to do an assignment, and we’re going to talk about some example assignments in a minute, but the second reason for you to doing the assignment is to assess the candidate’s ability to perform under pressure. Let’s face it, every single job in your organization has pressure.

(14:32)
This is true if you’re the executive director or the development director. It’s also true if you were the person at the front desk or you were the person doing outreach or you or someone in the finance office and while that pressure might have different causes, every position has pressure and you want to see how people are going to deal with a little bit of pressure. And then the last reason we’re doing the assignment is it allows you to consider your candidates based on their competency and not on their charisma. The job search process is heavily biased toward and weighted toward people who are really extroverted and have charisma. And that’s one of the reasons why if someone comes into an interview with you and they’re high energy, you are much more likely, as long as their energy is not off the chart, you are much more likely to think, huh, this is, this is a highly competent person.

(15:23)
But if it’s someone who’s lower energy who’s a little more reserved, you are less likely to think that. Now a candidate assignment helps you understand how competent someone is regardless of whether they’re extroverted or introverted, regardless of whether they’re higher energy or lower energy. So now that we’ve talked about some of the reasons to actually have an assignment, let’s talk about some examples of assignments that I’m actually going to give you a real-life example that I use in the consulting practice, successful nonprofits. But before we go there, let’s talk about some general rules for the assignment. So the first rule is there needs, it needs to either be a time to set assignment or there needs to be a deadline. And so if it’s in your office, it needs to be a time to Simon. I would suggest giving 90 minutes to two hours on the assignment.

(16:13)
And I would also suggest as an example, if it’s a 90 minute assignment, you give 120 minutes of work that needs to be done in that assignment and be really up front with a candidate and say, Hey, we believe that it would probably be very difficult for you to do everything in this assignment over a 90 minute period. But we want to see a, how you perform under pressure and B, we also want to see how you prioritize. So you kind of give the candidate some freedom to decide which things that are going to do first, second, third, et cetera. And again, then you’ll get a real sense about how they prioritize. Now if it’s a remote assignment. And so for example, when we were talking about a manager position and maybe you have a candidate conference and you’ve brought all of your, all of the perspective, uh, managers together and you are explaining the position to them.

(17:03)
And then you explain the assignment. Typically that’s going to be a take-home assignment. And typically you’re going to say to everybody, you’ve got a week or you’ve got 10 days to do this assignment. A pretty easy assignment for a manager position is to explain to them that you have laid out the strengths and weaknesses of or really strengths and challenges of the department of the organization. And then you’re gonna ask them to put together a 90-day plan and a one year plan to show how they’re going to build on those trains and how they’re going to address the challenges that the department, there’ll be leading a will address. And so that’s a take-home assignment, but you want a hard and fast deadline. And so for example, you might say, we need these back by next Tuesday at 4:00 PM and by the way, I would grant absolutely no extensions.

(17:53)
And the reason for this is it’s been my experience that people who are late in turning in an assignment, that’s what their work is. Like every time there’s a deadline, whether it’s a funder deadline, a board deadline, anything at all, they’re going to be late in turning that assignment in as well. So people typically do not perform better after you have offered them the job. In fact, it’s usually the reverse. They might perform five or 10% worse after they have started the job and then once they perform in this assignment. So I would also keep that in mind. Now let’s get back to the individual contributors in your organization. Uh, and so maybe that’s someone who is the only person in your finance office or an outreach worker or your front desk worker. What you need to do is you need to put together an actual assignment that will test the skills that they will actually have to use to perform their job.

(18:47)
And so for example, for a person in your finance office, you might want to set up a dummy account in your, uh, financial accounting package. Whether that’s QuickBooks or finance edge or Peachtree accounting or something else. Although I think Peachtree accounting is not around anymore. But still you’ll want to set up a dummy account and then you’re gonna ask them to do some things. You’re gonna ask them to create a journal entry. You’re going to ask them to run some customized reports. You’re probably gonna ask them to enter an invoice, to process a check to a balance, a credit card statement, to uh, reconcile a checking account statement, et cetera. So you’re going to give them some specific assignments that you will actually need them to do on a daily basis. So that’s something you might want to do, uh, for a finance person. Now let’s talk about what you might do for a front desk person.

(19:40)
Well, let’s say that the front desk person is checking people in and that they’re using some type of database to do that. And accuracy is really important. So then what you might wanna do is, uh, get some of your staff, five, six, seven, eight staff members to do a role play right where they walk up and they pretend to be a client who needs to be checked in. And once again, you know, and this does not have to be actually inside your database, you can just use an Excel spreadsheet or you can use an access database. So each of those staff members who plays a client in this roleplay would walk up to the desk and would say to this candidate, hi, I’m so and so, I’m here for this service. And then again, what part of what you’re testing is how do they interact with people they don’t know.

(20:26)
Part of what you are testing is how do they interact when people have different reactions. So in this role play, you can have someone maybe who feels really flustered. You could have someone who is really grateful, you could have someone who has missed three appointments and you need to have some additional cover or the front desk person needs to have some additional conversation with. And then what you’ll do on that spreadsheet or on that access databases, you’ll then see how accurate they are in actually entering the data into the spreadsheet or into the database because we’ve all hired people and realize that they’re not so accurate on their data entry. And that can be an issue as well. Maybe in addition to that, you also need the person at your front desk to be answering phones, and so then you’ll do some role-plays around answering phones.

(21:13)
Maybe they’ll be going to do some filing, so you’re going to give them a filing assignment. Essentially the core tasks that they’re going to do, you’re going to create mini assignments around and you’re going to ask them to do those assignments. Now, I will often be told by folks, Hey, Dolph, this sounds great if I’m hiring someone that’s performing a specific hard skills task. So for example, finance or for example data entry, but what about some of those softer skills tasks, like a, someone who’s going to be a fundraiser or someone who’s going to be a case manager? Well, you can develop assignments for those people as well. As an example for a fundraiser, you can, um, you can ask them to put together a pro forma for an event, uh, as well as a timeline for an event. And you can even describe kind of the general budget and the general outline of the event, but they’ve got to put together the proforma and the timeline.

(22:05)
You can then also give them a fictitious scenario of a donor who’s upset about something. Maybe their name was left off of a donor recognition in the annual report. Or maybe they felt snubbed in an event. And frankly, you could probably even take an actual donor email and just anonymize it and then say to the, each of your fundraising candidates, please draft an email of apology or explanation to this particular, uh, donor. And then you can see, okay, how are they going to draft that email? You can ask them to draft a solicitation letter or a thank you letter. There are many things that you can do. And also keep in mind that there are typically some hard skills in most positions. And that includes data entry. So in most development shops, there’s not just one person that is the full-time CRM manager that’s doing all of the data entry.

(22:59)
Frankly, even the development director or the director of external affairs will often be putting their own data, their own meeting notes, et cetera, into the CRM. So you probably still want to give people some type of a data skills test as well. So that’s one example. Another example is let’s say a case manager or a social worker. Well obviously they’ve got data entry too, so you’re going to give them a data entry skills test, but then you’re going to be able to set up some role-plays again perhaps with members of the team. And so different people would, would be coming in and talking about different issues and then the team would assess how that individual responds to those needs and those issues and the various personalities that you are going to ask your team members to play in the role. So again, it’s just critically important that you have an assignment.

(23:49)
Now, uh, at successful nonprofits, we do a test, our prospective employees and what I’ll do in the show notes is we will actually post the real test that we use for our special projects coordinator, but just to kind of walk you through it. The test starts with a little bit of a preamble and it’s one slide and it explains a that the test is a two and a half-hour time test and that we think that there’s probably about a half an hour or 45 minutes more work than they can do an into and a half hours because we want to make sure that we understand how they prioritize work and how they work under pressure. The next point on that slide, since it’s a remote position, we also say you can work on this over whatever time period you want. You can work for 30 minutes and stop. You can work for 45 minutes after that and stop.

(24:40)
You just can’t exceed two and a half hours. And we need you to do a screen recording so that we can actually look at the work you’re doing and assess where you are actually at and assess, okay, your skills are strong in this section and maybe not so strong in this other section. Or we’re going to have to provide you with some training around that. And it’s interesting because whenever I present this at a conference, I’ll often have someone who like me is deeply committed to equity and social justice, raise their hand and say, how fair is it that you’re asking someone to give you two, two and a half hours of their time and you’re not compensating them. So I also think that for non-exempt positions, you need to be compensating people when you ask them to do this skills test. And that also means that you’re only going to be asking people to do the skills task that you believe might actually be a very strong candidate for the job.

(25:32)
And so in our own special projects coordinator position here, we offered $50 of compensation just for completing the skills test. That is whether or not they get hired. And I’ll share with you kind of how we came up with that is this position makes $15 an hour. And I said, okay, two and a half hours. So $50 is more than enough compensation. We are really clear that it does not create an employment relationship and that essentially, you know, that they would be doing it as a contractor, talk to your own HR counsel and your own legal counsel about that. But that’s typically how we have handled it. So here are some of the things that we asked our special project coordinator candidates to do. Um, since we have podcast guest sourcing, we gave them some prospective topics. So things like, um, implementing trans-inclusive policies and determining if your nonprofit needs a five Oh one [inaudible] four and we said to choose one of these four or five topics and then identify three perspective guests who you think would be really great.

(26:40)
So the second task is we ask them to draft an email that might be used to invite one of the suggested guests to be on the podcast. So what does that do that kind of gives us a sense of how they write and is their writing strong and is it, is it the type of writing that we want and successful nonprofits to be known for or really is that a type of email communication we want to be known for? And then again for that one guest that they suggested above, we ask them then to think about some marketing, for example, to develop possible titles for the episode as well as to write short promotional pieces that could be used on Facebook and LinkedIn. We also, by the way, in addition to podcast guest sourcing, there are some other things that this position does. So this position also is responsible for maintaining our websites.

(27:33)
So we wanted to test their WordPress skills. We set up a dummy site on WordPress and we gave them the password and the login for that dummy side. And we asked them to do a few things like creating a menu item to create a blog post and two a find one plugin and activate it. And, and if you’re not someone who understands WordPress, that may all sound like jargon for you. And so I’m not sharing that with you listeners, so that you’re impressed that you know, I know what a top-level menu item is or I understand what a plugin is, but I’m sharing that with you because anyone who updates the website, we kind of need to know whether or not they understand that so that we know if the person is strong there or not strong there. And if the person does not have skill strength there, we know that if we choose to hire that person, we need to provide a Drake additional training, that next task, frankly, as a reading comprehension piece.

(28:25)
So we ask them to read one blog post on the [inaudible] website and then write a one or two-paragraph summary once again that reading comprehension is critically important because we are asking our special projects coordinator to read things and then write summaries. And then finally we have a writing summary skills test. And by the way, um, let me be clear that there’s a lot of writing summary skills tests throughout. And so that email that they wrote, the reading comprehension piece is also a writing skills task. But then we asked them to listen to one bonus break, which is pretty short, typically eight to 12 minutes. And then write a summary of that as well. And then I said finally, but actually there’s one more thing. We did also give a data entry and Excel skills test. We do a lot of work in Excel. We need to understand whether or not candidates know how to do some higher-level things in Excel.

(29:21)
Things like creating pivot tables and things like doing a mail merge into word. So we actually did both data entry and an Excel skills task all in one. And that’s actually the last piece of our hard skills candidate assignment. Now I will share with you that we often people who interview really, really well but do not do nearly so well on that candidate assignment. They just don’t. And so then that tells us that they perform really poorly on the candidate assignment that maybe they might not be the strongest person for the position. Now there are some cases because you know, in this candidate assignment we have seven or eight different things we’re testing and it’s really rare that every candidate excels in all eight. So sometimes we also have to look at it and say, okay, out of all of these skills, which ones are most important to us and which ones are willing are we willing to train on?

(30:16)
So once they’ve done the candidate assignment, then you can do an interview based on that candidate assignment. So you can then actually ask, well, you know, when you wrote X, Y, Z, we just got some questions about that. Um, you know, I ha what was your process for determining how to write this paragraph? Or what was your process for writing this paragraph? If you’re doing a role play, you can say, you know, I don’t know if you remember the Vic, the fictitious character Ted, who you did that case management session with, but can you explain maybe your approach there and where you learned that approach from and why you feel that approach is most effective so then you can actually base your interview on what you’ve observed in their candidate assignment. Now I’m not going to spend a lot of time on discussing the interview because we have all done a lot of interviews.

(31:06)
There are other areas in this episode that I spend a lot of time on like the candidate assignment because that’s probably new material for most people. Once you’ve done your candidate assignment and you’ve done your interview, you’re probably just about ready to select a final candidate. Now, once you select that final candidate, you still gotta do some research. Let me share with you six things that you need to do to research the final candidate. The first thing that you need to do is you need to ask them to fill out an application and then you need to compare that to their resume. Couple things about applications. The first is to make sure you run your employment application by legal counsel. Depending on the state, there may be some things that are in, in a traditional or template, uh, employment application that you find online that may not be legal in your state or your municipality.

(31:58)
So make sure that you do run your employment application by legal counsel. So the second thing you need to do is you need to take that job application and you need a verify each of the positions that were held. And so you actually need to call the former employers, verify the approximate start date, the approximate end date, the person’s position title, uh, as well as their reason for leaving. Also, when you look at the job application or the resume, you want to verify all education and licensures. So, you know, some people will list a graduate degree on their resume, but they’re actually one or two courses shy or they’re actually a thesis or a dissertation short. And you need to know whether a candidate actually has a graduate degree or not. Now the reason you want to compare the job application and the resume and you want to verify positions held as well as education and licensure is you need to make sure that you are hiring someone who is honest.

(32:56)
If someone is willing to not be truthful on their resume, they are also probably willing to not be truthful when their job is on the line. So they are willing maybe to tell a manager, Oh, I had this issue with that issue when they really did not. Or they are, they will be willing to tell a manager, well, when X, Y, Z project that I was working on had this major snafu, absolutely none of it was my fault. So really you’re looking for people who have a lot of honesty and integrity. And if you’re not accurate on your resume, if you’re not accurate on your job application and uh, if you claim to have education or licensure that you do not, you can’t fix trustworthiness, you just camp. So that’s an automatic disqualification if any of those things occur. Now, once you’ve done those, you also want to check references.

(33:47)
I’m pretty particular about references. The first thing that I suggest you do is that you not just ask the candidate to give you three references. We all professionally have three people who will say something good about us. Instead, what I suggest you do is you look at the resume and you ask for specific types of references. And so for example, you say, okay, so your job from 2012 to 2015, can you please send us, um, the contact information for your manager there? We would like to talk to them. And for your job from 2015 to 2018 can we talk to one person that you supervised? We’d like to talk to somebody that you see provides. And then the last thing is to get their permission to do backdoor reference checks. So if you’re familiar with the executive director or their manager at a place where they worked, get permission to reach out and ask that ed or that manager, Hey, what was this person like?

(34:44)
Would you hire them again? And so in addition to asking a reference if the person is eligible for rehire and if you would hire them for the type of position that you currently have open, you also want to have a set of questions, probably about 10 or 12 questions that you ask every single reference. Now that might mean that it’s a 20-minute conversation and you need a schedule that conversation with the reference. It’s not a quick three or four-minute conversation, but the quality of information that you are going to get back is going to be so much better. Now in the show notes, I’m also going to link to a set of questions that I’ve developed that you can ask references when you call to check when you are clear with candidates that you’re going to be asking for specific people in the resume to talk to for a reference.

(35:35)
And when you’re also clear with candidates that you’re going to check backdoor references, candidates are awesome, much more likely maybe to disclose a work situation that was not ideal for them. And so if you asked to speak to a manager from two jobs ago, they might say, I’ll give you that information, but I need you to know that they’re not going to say great things about me and here’s why. Or if you asked to speak with a direct report from another position, the person might say, you know, that was my first time as a manager and I had some struggles and here were the challenges I faced and here’s what I did overcome those challenges. So again, this is another opportunity to really test your candidates and see how self-aware they are as well as how open and honest they’re willing to be with you.

(36:21)
Now the last thing that you want to do is you want to Google a candidate and you want to check their social media. Now, this is sometimes controversial and you also need to make sure that you can legally do that in the state and municipality that you’re in, but I believe that’s critically important. Let me give you a couple of examples. So let’s say you’re a nonprofit that works around our reproductive health. Now, let’s say you’ve got a development director candidate and you Google that candidate or you check their Facebook page and you find out that they’re a pro-life activist. Well, wouldn’t you rather know that about your prospective Delmont director before you hire them? Then after you hire them, let me give you another example. Let’s say you’re an LGBTQ community center and you have a candidate who has 15 years of great fundraising experience within the LGBTQ community, but you check out their Facebook page and they’ve got a lot of really transphobic comments.

(37:19)
Now, if you’re an LGBTQ community center, you want a really inclusive environment and a really inclusive workforce, and you don’t want someone who’s transphobic. So while it can be a little bit controversial, I would absolutely recommend that you, if you’re legally allowed to search the candidate on Google and also check their social media. Now the last thing you’re going to do after you’ve done all of that research is you’re going to put together your offer. You probably already have a lot of experience in putting together offers. So I’m not gonna say a lot about it, but what I will say is before you call the candidate, go ahead and put the OD, the offer letter together. Go ahead and put in there the amount that you’re thinking about paying and then call and have a conversation with a candidate. I would also encourage you to determine that amount, not by how much, how little you think the candidate will accept, but by what you believe that position is worth as well as the skillset that the candidate brings.

(38:22)
And then have an open and honest dialogue with the candidate about equitable compensation. I really feel in the nonprofit sector, this is one of the areas that we fall down and we fall down a lot. You know, we really, we nickel and dime our candidates. We’re like, Oh, can I shave $1,000 off or can I shave $2,000 off my offer? And then you think, thank goodness that candidate did not advocate for themselves. We just saved $3,000 so again, make a decent offer to candidates, have an open conversation with them about compensation and about equity. That’s just critically important. So this concludes our two-part series on mind shifts for better hiring. Gosh, I hope it has been super helpful. If you have just two takeaways from this episode, here’s what I want you to remember. Make sure that you give your candidates assignments and again I’ve got an example assignment at the website and then I also want to make sure that you thoroughly research candidates.

(39:21)
This is an area that a lot of organizations don’t spend much time on and this is your final opportunity to determine whether or not someone is truthful, honest and really a high performer so you want to take the time necessary even if it’s two, three or four hours to make sure that you have thoroughly researched this candidate who you are hoping will be with you for two, three or four years. Gosh, I hope this episode has been helpful. If you like it, please make sure you go on iTunes, Stitcher or your streaming app of choice and rate us and review us. Also, reach out to me on LinkedIn or Facebook would absolutely love to hear from you. That is our show for this week. I hope you have gained some insight to help your nonprofit thrive in a competitive environment.

(40:08)
I am not an accountant or attorney and either I or the Goldenburg Group provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Cause material has been provided for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. Always consult a qualified licensed professional about such matters.

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