Perren Blackett Law
An Association of Independent Law Practices


Recruiting, Screening, and Selecting Employees for Your Nonprofit

Whether your nonprofit organization is small or large, hiring new employees can be a daunting task. In order to help you recruit the best talent and ensure a smooth hiring process, follow our best tips for nonprofit employee selection.

A Clear Description

For whatever role you’re looking to fill, a clear description is necessary. Make sure you include a list of non-negotiable skills required and also some “nice to haves.” This will help you sort through the resumes and applications as they come in. Highlight the benefits of the position, especially if the salary is low. If possible, offer flexibility to work from home one day a week, childcare, or similar.

Don’t forget the guidance found in the Societies Act and associated publications – if you are recruiting for a volunteer board member role some of the duties and responsibilities of the role might be in your bylaws.

Think Outside the Box

Place job ads as you usually do but increase your reach by posting the job in typically corporate job areas. By expanding your pool of applicants, you’ll have a better pick of skilled candidates.  For better or for worse, given the current state of the economy in Alberta, if you are an Alberta nonprofit your talent pool might be more diverse than usual – pulling talent from corporate or private industry might be attractive.

Interview Committee

Form an interview committee that includes a potential colleague or the immediate supervisor. Depending on the position to be filled, members of the board who are experts in areas such as finance may also provide helpful questions and insights. Then make sure the direction and format of the interview is clear for all involved.

If there are a lot of interesting candidates, you may consider conducting quick phone interviews to narrow down the list, saving time and money with a pre-screening process.

Check and Double Check

Once the applications have been reviewed and interviews conducted, call references and conduct background checks for your favourite two or three candidates – if your nonprofit deals with working with children, the elderly or other vulnerable individuals don’t forget a criminal records check which includes the vulnerable sector check.  

After you check references, you might find yourself with follow up questions.  Don’t be shy about conducting second interviews, if necessary.

After the Final Decision

Once you have a final decision, make an offer!  However, check with your HR folks or with legal counsel about using an employment agreement or offer letter.  There are very powerful tools within a written contract that you might use to reduce liability for your nonprofit’s delicate bottom line.

Leave No Man Behind

Be respectful of your other candidates, especially those who made it to the hiring round.  Keep other final candidates’ information on file - you have to anyway for legal record retention obligations).  Follow up with all “finalists” to thank these candidates for their application, time and interest in the position - you would be amazed at how many organizations (public, private, and nonprofit) who miss this important opportunity to show good manners, generate goodwill and social capital by simply saying “thank you”.

For advice on carrying out a successful hiring process for the nonprofit sector and for more information about using an employment contract contact Nystedt Law for all of your human resource consulting needs.