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Best Technology Practices for Hiring Nonprofit Staff, Part One

At the core of your nonprofit is, of course, your mission. But success in delivering on that promise to your community depends on your employees. To that end, being able to attract and successfully recruit top talent for your nonprofit is of utmost importance. Whether you are new to recruiting or you're a seasoned veteran, technology plays a big role in how you recruit, even before you reach out to a candidate. In this two-part series, we'll go over some areas to think about as you set up your recruitment process.

In our first installment, we'll cover the technological considerations you'll need to keep in mind. In part two of this series, we'll go over how to best manage the recruitment and hiring process once you've identified your job candidates.

Let's dive in.

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The Importance of Keeping Up to Date

Technology platforms are constantly changing, and those used for recruiting employees are no exception. You want to attract the best candidates, and to do that, it's important to have a solid recruiting strategy in place. When technology fails you or the recruiting logistics are not efficient, it shows the candidate that your organization may not be the right place for them. It's important to do an audit of the technology you currently have available to you and to review your recruiting processes — ideally, every year.

There are a lot of advantages to conducting this sort of audit. Having the right tools to create, store, and maintain your job descriptions is useful. You can use them to inform hiring teams about the role they're recruiting for and to lead discussions about performance once the candidate has been hired. They could even be helpful for legal purposes.

Choosing the best platforms to advertise your roles will allow the right candidates to find you and help build a strong and diverse workforce. It's important to think about the technology you are using to power your recruitment and hiring process as central to your efforts. Using the right solutions to support processes here will help save employee time, reduce budgets, and allow you to keep a bird's eye view over the hiring process in general. 

But using the right hiring tools will also show candidates how you operate, technologically speaking. If a candidate isn't impressed with your use of technology, they may choose to work elsewhere. It may not seem obvious, but your tech infrastructure around the hiring process tells candidates a lot about how your organization operates and what it values.

Functionality Within Platforms

You may be using multiple platforms that each has a specific function, but in the HR world, there are platforms that have multiple functions. Oftentimes, adopting those platforms and upgrading may mean fewer tools (so money saved), fewer places for documents to get lost, and more time spent where it counts — on recruiting the best candidates.

You may have platforms that can act as a career page and applicant tracking system (ATS), as well as serve as your HR information system (HRIS) on the back end. You can find an HRIS (like ADP, PayCom, or Paylocity) that can perform payroll functions, manage performance, administer benefits, store documents, and onboard. This means you don't have to buy new systems to perform this function.

Some platforms integrate with other systems to supplement the features they don't have. For example, an ATS like Greenhouse, JazzHR, and Lever may integrate with a calendaring system to schedule interviews more easily. This would save you from having to go back and forth between candidate and hiring manager to schedule an interview. You might even have an ATS that integrates with your HRIS. Once you are done recruiting the candidate, you can move them into your HRIS and start the hiring process.

Creating and Storing Hiring Documents

While it's best to ask the hiring manager for the duties of the position being offered, often they will need help figuring out how to best express what it is they are looking for. You can find similar job descriptions on any job board — don't be afraid to refer to them. You can also refer to O*NET OnLine, a U.S. Department of Labor–sponsored website. O*NET has many resources for creating job descriptions and reviewing them against tasks, skills, and other values and employment trends. Lastly, it is always recommended to review HR-focused websites such as SHRM and Nonprofit HR, where you will find myriad talent management and workforce planning resources.

Once you've created your job descriptions, you'll need to store and manage them for recruiting, talent management, and potentially legal reasons. Wherever you store them, whether it's in a personnel file or elsewhere, it must be consistent and accessible to the right people. Some HR information systems and applicant tracking systems have a document cloud where you can create and store files. You can also create a folder on websites like Google Drive or Box to keep the files secure.

The Recruiting Process

As more organizations go remote, it's important to plan how you will recruit candidates that you won't be interviewing — or working with — in person. You may want to use RingCentral if you are scheduling phone interviews, and for video calls you may want to use Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, or even FaceTime.

If you assign a take-home project or presentation, think of where you will want the candidate to upload their work. Again, having an upload link in Box or Google Drive would be useful here. Avoid asking candidates to submit these items as email attachments since you will then be required to store them in a central location anyhow, where the entire hiring team can review them. This also prevents losing these documents if a member of your hiring team leaves your organization and forgets to store them in the cloud before doing so.

Advertising Jobs

Once you've identified all the back-end logistics behind recruiting for your role, it's time to post the position. Depending on the type of organization you are, your size, and how well known your organization is, different platforms work better for different scenarios.

If your nonprofit is small or new, it may not make sense to have a career page until you've grown your operations a bit. In this situation, it might make sense to stick to recruiting within your network, asking for referrals, or simply having an email address that people can reach out to in order to submit their resumes or make general inquiries. But again, you should be storing all candidate submissions, including resumes, in the cloud. It might even make more sense to go to meetups that target the sort of hiring you're looking to do. Meetup.com is a good place to start.

As an organization grows, it's essential to build a career page on your nonprofit's website. You want to be able to point someone to the job description and receive their application via a central source, such as a form on a career page. If you are not ready to invest in an ATS that connects with your website, you may decide to post your position on job boards like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Craigslist. Include contact info for interested candidates to reach out to. These days you'll even see positions on social media, targeted diversity boards, or even at university career fairs.

And remember, even if you don't have all your "dream software," it doesn't mean that you can't recruit great talent. However, it does mean that you need to be resourceful and think about what you currently have and how you can make it work for you. For example, most organizations have access to basic productivity suites such as Office 365 and Google Workspace. Either of these solutions can work well provided the right processes are in place.

Now we've laid out all the recruiting steps before a candidate even enters your process. In our next post, we will talk about how to manage the process once you've started interacting with candidates.


TechSoup's Elaine McKay contributed to the development of this blog post. 

Additional Resources

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