Portrait Of Businesspeople In Modern Open Plan OfficeAs an executive search firm, we know how much easier it is to recruit for an organization that has a reputation as a “great place to work.” However when an organization has a poor image as an employer, it can be difficult to get anyone, let alone the best talent, to consider employment there.

Having qualified and motivated employees is essential to the success of any company or organization. So, how can nonprofits attract individuals with the right skills and experience, especially when competing with other non-profit and even for-profit companies? Developing your “employer brand” will help you to establish your identity as an employer and market to potential employees. It is essential to market to your “talent community,” or current and future employees, just like your donors and supporters.

The First Step: Current Employees

The best place to start building your employer brand is with your current staff. Like it or not, your employees are talking about your organization to others, including potential future employees. It’s important to determine what your staff is saying about your workplace. If you don’t like it, address any issues and change the conversation.

Happy employees can serve as ambassadors for your organization—spreading the word about your fun and challenging workplace. When a position is open at your organization, they will reach out to their network and help you find candidates. To harness the power of your staff, make sure your employees have an elevator pitch about your employer brand and what it’s like to work at your organization.

It’s not news that many nonprofits are constrained by tight budgets and can’t always provide salaries that are competitive with for-profit companies. However nonprofits can cultivate a friendly and attractive workplace united around a common mission that many corporations cannot.

Finally, don’t forget that great benefits and time off is very attractive to most people- sometimes even more than a six-figure salary.

Define Your Employer Brand

Defining your employer brand will not only help you attract the best applicants to your open positions—it will make it easier to choose candidates who will thrive at your organization, and contribute to your employee culture.

To begin defining your employer brand, ask yourself and your employees the following questions:

  • What personality traits would your organization have if it were a person?
  • What makes your organization different from other similar nonprofits?
  • Why should someone want to work for your organization?

Market to Your Talent Community

Once you have clarified your employer brand—it’s time to make it visible to potential employees.

Part of your website should be dedicated to careers at your organization. Listing job openings is only one component—a career page should include information about your organization and what it’s like to work there.

For instance, your career site can provide profiles of your current employees with information about how long they’ve worked at your organization, their favorite part of their job, and their hobbies. You may want to consider including photo and video, which are a very effective medium to communicate your employer brand.

You can even give your employees the microphone and have them write a blog post about their experience working at your organization. Keep in mind that the materials directed toward future employees should be just as powerful and effective as those for donors.

A mobile website is not just helpful for marketing to donors—it is also a great tool in the hiring process. In a recent study[1], 68% of participants said they use their mobile device to search for jobs at least once a week. In addition, posting open positions and promoting your employer brand on social media is a must. Social media posts are also easy for your employees to share, and will help spread the word about open positions to a wider network.

Candidate Experience

Lastly, don’t blow it once potential candidates are on the phone or in your office. Make sure that your candidate experience represents your employer brand. Let your candidates know when you have received their resume and practice good interview etiquette. Be transparent about your workplace culture and use your now defined employer brand to show candidates what it’s like to work at your organization. Keep in mind that even if an individual is not a fit for a current position, they could be a good candidate for a future position.

Attracting exceptional employees is essential to your organization’s success. Define and market your employer brand—and watch your organization blossom.

[1] Survey from Glassdoor.com http://www.glassdoor.com/blog/infographic-rise-mobile-job-search/

(Adapted from article originally posted by Nora Bright in Association of California Symphony Orchestras Newsletter Summer 2014)

Nora is Vice President and Co-Owner of Bristol Associates and recruits for the Nonprofit and Arts divisions. She represents the third generation of our family-owned search firm founded in 1967. Raised in Los Angeles, Nora enjoys playing the drums, attending outdoor summer concerts, and reading fiction. You can contact her by email or for her full bio click here.

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