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How to hire a nonprofit CEO in a pandemic

An integral part of the process, says one expert, is to ‘make sure potential candidates can hear the heart of your organization.’

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  • | 11:00 a.m. September 2, 2021
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The pandemic has proven to be incredibly challenging for businesses. Many had to adapt and change their processes and procedures to accommodate, and others closed doors for good. Now as we are possibly arriving at a point where restrictions are being lifted and doors can open (somewhat) normally again — let's call it mid-COIVD — businesses and organizations are faced with another challenge: hiring.

As the world completely shut down and many transitioned to working from home, this has created a unique workforce. If your nonprofit was in the process of hiring a CEO before the pandemic and had challenges finding qualified candidates, hiring now, mid-COVID, is going to be even more difficult as candidates will be seeking out unique and alternative options for employment.

Here are some factors for board members to keep in mind while hiring a leader in this environment:

Use your existing market: Sometimes the best candidates are right under your nose. Tap into the board members’ market and let them know the organization is hiring. If the board is actively engaged in the community, existing markets will already know the caliber of people to refer. Your existing market members will not give their recommendation for just anyone, so you can rest assured the candidates presented will have at least bare minimum qualifications.

Commit to diversity and inclusion: Many of the people who lost their jobs to COVID-19 are now looking for employment. This could be a great thing for your organization as there is a larger pool to select from, however this could also mean some candidates may be overlooked. Be sure the board keeps diversity as a top goal when selecting potential candidates.

Make a standout offer: Just as your board members are out scouting for talent, so are 1,000-plus other organizations. Make sure potential candidates can hear the heart of your organization. Making a heart connection is going to be key in the selection process, as candidates are no longer motivated by only salary and benefits. Many of the people back out in the job market had decent salaries and benefits that were lost when their company shuttered or downsized to accommodate the lack of business during the pandemic. Make sure your organization presents other ways in which it plans to retain the candidate, even if another pandemic arises.

Be clear about workplace expectations: Be prepared for many of the candidates to ask about hybrid or remote work. Most of the working class have been working from home for 18 months and are used to the adjustment. Be sure to let potential candidates know what your company’s stance is on remote work. Take into consideration many people are fearful of becoming sick or being in a large crowd, so be prepared to address this new question — which wasn’t a question candidates would ask pre-pandemic. Board members should alsa be prepared for some candidates to walk away from the opportunity if remote or hybrid options aren’t available.

Hiring will be a unique experience mid-COVID and your organization must be prepared to adapt in order to attract qualified and dedicated candidates to the team.  

Tiffany Rucker is a small business and financial literacy coach in Tampa with Jackie Sue Griffin & Associates, which works with boards and teams to increase individual and organizational capacity.



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