Case Studies

Reducing Risk in Nonprofit Executive Hiring

Posted by Mitch Corlett on June 9, 2015

The Situation

The Board of a nonprofit client came to us for a particularly challenging and critically important hire. In several previous searches, the organization had experienced mixed results working with the executive search firms who specialized in their programmatic area (we did not).

Our Analysis

Our first step was to methodically review the history of all the previous hiring processes, identifying the factors that led some people to succeed in the role, while other failed. Next, we looked at the recruiting process. We analyzed who was contacted, who engaged with the process, how strong the candidate pools were, and whether the interview process was rigorous enough to select the best candidates.

Our analysis revealed several systemic flaws in the hiring process.

  • There was not enough rigor in identifying the factors that led to success in the role
  • There was not enough effort spent finding candidates with the success factors
  • There was not a compelling outreach effort that attracted the interest of the qualified candidates
  • There was not a rigorous candidate evaluation process to select the very best candidates.

It quickly became clear that the previous executive search firms had relied too heavily on their existing network of candidates, and had not methodically identified candidates who were not in their Rolodex. This is a common, but significant oversight. (More than 90% of the people we contacted were not previously identified by other firms.)

Previous firms employed a “shotgun” recruiting approach, reaching out to hundreds of candidates, with an undifferentiated message. As a result only 5% of candidates engaged in a conversation. Our targeted recruiting approach resulted in a 30% engagement rate and a much larger, far more diverse candidate pool.

The Result Of Our Work

Our recruiting process quickly produced a field of 10 very highly qualified candidates. Additionally, more than 30 people expressed interest in being considered for future work with our client. Our approach not only filled the position, but raised our client’s visibility, creating a pipeline of potential future hires, and a powerful community of supporters.

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