Hiring a nonprofit CEO in a mid-COVID environment
The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts have proven to be incredibly challenging for businesses and nonprofits alike. Many have had to adapt and change their processes and procedures to accommodate social-distancing and other public health measures, and others have had to close their doors for good. Now, as restrictions are being lifted and doors can be opened again — let’s call it a “mid-COVID” environment — organizations are faced with another challenge: nonprofit CEO hiring.
Since the world shut down around us and many of us transitioned to working from home on a long-term basis, perspectives and expectations around where and how we work have shifted. 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 unique and alternative options for employment.
Here are some considerations for nonprofit board members to keep in mind when hiring in the “new normal” market:
Use your existing market: Sometimes the best candidates are right under your nose. Tap into the board members’ networks and let them know that the organization is hiring. If the board is actively engaged in the community, they will already know the caliber of people to refer. Members of those networks and communities will not recommend just anyone, so you can rest assured that the candidates presented will have at least the minimum qualifications.
Commit to diversity and inclusion: Many of the people who lost their jobs to COVID are now looking for employment. This could be a great thing for your organization in that there is a larger pool to select from; however, this could also mean that some candidates may be overlooked. Ensure that the board makes diversity a top priority when selecting potential candidates.
Make a standout offer: Just as your board members are out scouting for talent, so are more than a thousand other organizations. Make sure that potential candidates can hear the “heart” of your organization; making a “heart” connection is going to be key to the recruiting process, as candidates are no longer motivated only by salary and benefits. Many candidates who are back out on the job market are people who had decent salaries and benefits that were lost when their nonprofit had to close their doors or downsize as a result of the pandemic. Make sure that your organization presents other ways in which it plans to retain the candidate, even if another pandemic or other crisis were to arise.
Be clear about workplace expectations: Be prepared for many of the candidates to ask about hybrid or remote work options and let them know what your organization’s stance is. Take into consideration that many people are fearful of becoming sick or being in a large crowd, so be prepared to address this new question that was not a question candidates would ask pre-COVID. Board members should be prepared for some candidates to walk away from the opportunity if remote or hybrid options are not 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.