What Do Non-Profit Recruiters Do?

Terry Masters

Non-profit recruiters typically work to identify, recruit, qualify and place executives in open positions in the non-profit industry. This type of recruiter performs the same duties as for-profit recruiters, except in a different context. The most relevant distinction between what non-profit and for-profit recruiters do concerns the way candidates are selected and vetted for positions. Candidates selected to work for non-profits must often be above reproach financially, morally and ethically, because the ability of a non-profit to raise money depends on the public's confidence in the organization's leaders. Many for-profit companies have the luxury of hiring based solely on skill and aptitude for the job.

Non-profit recruiters identify and place executives in open positions in the non-profit industry.
Non-profit recruiters identify and place executives in open positions in the non-profit industry.

At a basic level, non-profit recruiters do the same things as their for-profit counterparts. Recruiters are expected to identify candidates. They do this by placing job ads in relevant places and by engaging in a process often called "head hunting." A recruiter head hunts by identifying a qualified non-profit executive who is currently working and trying to entice him to throw his hat into the ring for an open position with a different organization. Once candidates are identified, non-profit recruiters must vet their qualifications by checking work histories, conducting interviews and administering personality and aptitude tests.

Those candidates who successfully make it through screening are matched to open positions that are listed with the staffing agency. Non-profit recruiters manage the candidate's interview process and the firm's relationship with client until a job offer is made. Once the candidate is hired into the position and remains in it for a specific length of time, the firm is paid a placement fee and the non-profit recruiters begin identifying new candidates to start the process again.

These duties are the same as those assigned to for-profit recruiters. The difference in the two positions lies in the nature of the underlying industries. Non-profits operate based on public confidence. If the public loses confidence in an organization's leadership, donations can dry up. One scandal involving a non-profit executive can put the organization out of business and lead to formal governmental investigations.

The role of non-profit recruiters in selecting appropriate candidates to fill open positions is somewhat more critical in this context than it is for ordinary corporations. Filling an executive director position for a major cultural institution, for example, can send ripples through the donor base that can immediate impact an organization's bottom line. Non-profit recruiters must add a level of personal and professional vetting to the candidate selection process that protects its clients against poor choices that only become evident after hiring.

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