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Nonprofit HR’s Blog

A recent Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) survey reported CFO hunts took longer in 2015 than they did in 2014. And as the economy continues to improve, other executive positions will be affected as well. Today, candidates can be more selective and positions are left vacant as a result.

Furthermore, executive turnover can cost an organization as much as double that individual’s salary. Your nonprofit doesn’t have that kind of money to burn––you have to get it right the first time.  Your organization must streamline its executive search processes to ensure a high-quality leadership hire who aligns with your mission, culture and skill needs.

To maximize search efficiency, nonprofits can tap into the expertise of forward-thinking, results-driven executive search firms. And rather than sacrifice quality or speed of hire, nonprofits and for-profits alike can implement these best practices:

Best practice #1: Integrate technology and streamline processes

Executive recruiting is more of an art than an exact science. Search firms and companies conducting in-house leadership searches are investing even more deeply in technology to access better talent and streamline their processes. For example, workflow tools for scheduling meetings and sending follow-up emails to candidates automate logistical tasks. These improvements maximize efficiencies and allow more time for the most important part of the executive search: finding the right fit for a leadership role.

To be among other forward-thinking executive search firms, Nonprofit HR is on the precipice of developing an online tool that will integrate and leverage our executive search processes and allow our team and our searches to be as efficient and effective as possible.

Best Practice #2: Hire a firm who knows your industry

Organizations need an executive search partner with in-depth knowledge of their sector. And firms with a specialized industry focus are able to provide the best service and highly-experienced talent to their clients. When the executive search field first came to fruition in the 1960s, the practice was much more general. Today, sub-sectors like technology, advertising, health care, publishing, etc., can utilize an executive search firm that specializes in their unique industry to find and place the best talent for their needs.

On the nonprofit side, Nonprofit HR has worked with a wide range of nonprofits across the country, and our deep understanding of the sector allows us to better serve our clients’ needs and match them with the executives they need to achieve their missions.

Best Practice #3: Choose a partner with firm that does it all

Because every executive search is different, firms need to be agile and adapt to the needs of the organization they’re working with. By providing a wide range of services like consulting, executive coaching and more, Nonprofit HR has been able to better serve our clients. And because organizations are choosing partners based on budget, time and existing search firm relationships, it’s crucial to able to customize services based on the client’s needs. With service customization, there’s a lower barrier to entry for executive search services for smaller organizations that may not have been able to afford to hire a firm in the past.

Best Practice #4: Take advantage of the increased access to qualified candidates

Of course, with sites like LinkedIn, companies and organizations have greater access to individuals with their desired leadership qualifications. But now, new tech platforms like ENGAGE provide access to passive candidates and use predictive analytics to determine which ones are “likely to engage” with an organization during their executive search.

With the ability to more easily connect with qualified leadership candidates who may not be actively considering changing roles, the speed to hire for executive positions can be cut down significantly.

Best Practice #5: Seek executive coaching in conjunction with search partners

Executive search is about more than filling a role; it’s about finding candidates who are prepared and capable of furthering an organization’s goals. In fact, Korn Ferry’s “Real World Leadership” study found that the development of leaders who can drive strategic change is a top priority for executives, but only 17 percent of executives surveyed indicated they were fully confident their organization had the leadership in place to drive that strategic change.

At Nonprofit HR, we provide executive coaching for the candidates we recruit for our clients. Leadership training allows us to bring a new leadership hire up to speed on the nuances of an organization so we can ensure a good fit on all fronts: skills, culture and mission-alignment. Once a candidate is onboarded to an executive position, we continue to check in with the hiring organization and the individual regarding organizational fit and overall success of the executive placement.

Best Practice #6: Vet for more than hard skills

There’s more to a successful C-level candidate than the bullets on their resume. When vetting for leadership positions, many organizations and recruiters are looking toward soft skills in addition to hard skills. PDA International assessments are one way executive search firms are analyzing candidates’ behavioral profiles for competency and compatibility with an organization in regards to emotional intelligence and motivation.

Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are also becoming increasingly more important. According to AESC’s 2015 State of the Industry data, diversity is now a top business concern of executive search clients––a significant change in priority from just a few years earlier.

When it’s time for your organization to conduct an executive search, first decide if you should run your search internally or employ an outside firm. But keep in mind that the benefits of engaging a search firm go beyond simply fulfilling a present need. Forty-one percent of those surveyed by AESC said tenure was the most important metric of a successful candidate, and research shows candidates placed by executive search firms stayed in their roles longer.

Nonprofit HR is the leading firm in the country that works exclusively with the nonprofit sector on its HR needs, including executive search. If you’re a nonprofit organization in need of leadership recruiting services, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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