Here’s What the Foreseeable Future of Hiring Looks Like in Your Nonprofit

Here’s What the Foreseeable Future of Hiring Looks Like in Your Nonprofit

Let’s say you meet a young person, Molly, age 18. After what appears to be a relatively successful interview, you decide to employ her in your nonprofit. Knowing she is university bound, you offer her a scholarship of a couple thousand dollars. You give Molly a bonus of $1000 for 3 months of good work. When she’s on break from university, Molly returns home and works a few shifts. Then along comes the perfect project for her, something you know she would excel at.

You reach out via text – “Hey Molly, I’ve got something interesting for you”. She doesn’t answer the first text, nor does she respond to the next two you send. She doesn’t return your calls, and she’s not answering your emails. You hear nothing back. You think, “I hope Molly is okay”. And then you have to realize – Molly doesn’t care. And it’s up to you to stop the chase. You admittedly have a hard time stopping the chase because you know what Molly did, how effective she was, and how rewarded she was for it. Yet all you see now is her back. She’s onto something else, with no attention or response after you treated her fairly, compensated her well, and rewarded her strengths with work that was a match for her.

The scenario I laid out is happening every single day in businesses across the country – so much that employers are willing to pay a higher-than-normal wage for 50% effort. As employers, we’ve never had so many tools to sell ourselves and our services, and to attract top talent. Yet the resumes and letters we get are chock full of significant spelling errors and employment gaps. Even worse, the shortage of people to work is causing poor performance to be acceptable, and even normal. “It’s better to have someone than to have no one.” This is the attitude today.

It’s time we all admit that up to this point, we’ve had blinders on when it comes to hiring – particularly in the last two years. Do you want a solid resume from every applicant? You’re not going to get it. It’s time to move away from the traditional things you look for when hiring. The person you’re looking for now doesn’t fit the template you have in your mind. Resist the urge to hire a pedigree, and take a chance on someone with no experience who shows up, does their job, and cares about the people they work with. This is someone you can train to do anything.

Here are the preliminary questions I’m using to hire these days (very different from five years ago)…

What made you want this job? Why do you want to work with us? If they can’t answer that question, they’re looking to trade hours for dollars. 9 out of 10 interviewees will look at you with a blank stare. They don’t expect this question. They haven’t thought about it, and their answer will tell you a lot.

Where do you see yourself in 3 years? Most people will look at you as if you are a unicorn. They often answer with something generic like, “I see myself working”. The majority don’t have a plan or a blueprint. No goals. Very unfortunate.

What do you do when you’re not working? They all have an answer to this one. “I play games. I watch YouTube. I binge on Netflix. I live on TikTok.” This question reveals depth (or not). It’s useful to know what they do in their free time, particularly if they (eventually) don’t show up for work.

What do you NOT like doing? They always know the answer to this question right away. I had one interviewee answer, “I don’t like getting up in the morning”. Instead of bringing you what they offer, applicants bring you what they don’t do. We’ve all got a tsunami of people like this. However, knowing what they don’t like doing can also help you know how to sweeten your offer if they have unique talents that would contribute to your organization.

Here is how I am personally navigating today’s hiring landscape…

  1. I look for people who show up with purpose. It could be something really simple – like purpose in how they put themselves together in the morning. It could be the purpose of walking their dog.  If they have ANY kind of purpose, I can work with that.

  2. I avoid hiring rabbits (people who jump around). They don’t stay. There are jobs on every corner, and they’re only looking out for themselves when they choose one. As soon as their wants and needs aren’t top priority, they hop somewhere else. I don’t hire rabbits.

  3. I’m willing to give something to get something. Example: I met a young woman who had a talent that was hard to find. During her interview, she mentioned that she goes to bed at 3:00am every day. I wanted her talent, so I played to what she didn’t like by offering her an 11:00am start time. This is something I never thought I would do 5 years ago.

  4. I don’t call references anymore. What I know is that I’ll find out who I hired within 3 weeks of the day they start. Resumes and references are not indicators of long term attitude and behavior.

  5. As enticing as it may be, I avoid poaching people from their current jobs with lofty promises. Instead, I acknowledge their excellent work, give them my card, and let them know I’m interested in having them come work for me. I let them contact me directly. That’s a person who wants something.

    Hiring today is a game of reaching through to people, igniting their purpose, and giving them some meaning in their life. Nonprofits have a crucial role in getting people back into giving and doing. We all need to recognize that role – and sell it.

    Want help? I offer individualized coaching and consulting specifically tailored to meet you where you are, with the people and resources you have available to you, and with your goals in mind.

    Reply to this message directly to set up a conversation. Even if we don’t end up doing work together, I promise our conversation will highlight a direction and solutions you haven’t yet considered.

    Let’s start there.