Recruiting right now: Strategize your talent acquisition

Written by: UST (Unemployment Services Trust)
Published on: Nov 29, 2021

group standing in a circle with hands together in the center

(Image: Camylla Battani)

Filling vacancies without making smart, calculated moves could increase your employee turnover rate just as you’re starting to rebuild. Instead, figure out where you are currently, where you need to go, and how best to arrive at your destination. To this end, consider these four steps for recruiting in a post-COVID world.

1. Revisit and re-evaluate your recruitment strategy (even if it’s for future use). During the pandemic, most nonprofits were put in a position where they needed to focus on the basics. As we move out of the response phase, it’s time to focus on the potential workforce challenges that might be coming next.

Take a hard look at your mission and goals as they relate to today’s world and then take a good look at your current staff. Labor market shifts, changing regulations, continuing demands for online services, and a tight candidate pool may require that you pivot quickly to address hiring needs successfully. Start thinking about your next way of doing business, who on your staff can evolve with your goals, and what kinds of talent you’ll need to make your new staff robust. Ask these four questions to guide your team:

  • Are you freezing, hiring, or stabilizing?
  • What type of talent will you need in the future?
  • How many people will you need?
  • Do we need employees that live locally or can they work from anywhere?

2. Understand your skill gaps. Make sure to check your existing talent and talent pipelines. You’ll need to know your skill gaps before you can replace critical roles lost due to staff turnover during the pandemic. Moreover, you should determine how your skill gaps might have changed as a result of current events. If your workforce moved to fully remote, you might need to add remote working skills to your requirements. Time management and being a self-starter will be useful for remote workers.

It’s terribly important to look at your current staff with fresh eyes. Has anyone been locked into a role when they could have been doing other things, perhaps rising in the organization as a result?

Once you understand all of your workers’ skills (even those beyond their current job descriptions), you’ll be ready to re-deploy and repurpose your current staff members to fill critical new roles while also benefiting from new opportunities to expand.

3. Your recruitment strategy should help you succeed. Make sure your strategy can carry you into the future. Be sure to engage relevant stakeholders, such as your organization’s executive leadership and hiring managers. Identify which roles, activities, and skills your nonprofit will need. Essential skills (also known as “soft” skills) such as adaptability can come at a premium in the post-COVID working world.

Come up with a plan to locate and recruit talent that will help your nonprofit achieve goals that are six to twelve months down the line. Keep everyone intrigued until you can fully execute your hiring plan: Consider creating Expression of Interest (EOI) capture forms to create connections with external talent and potential services you might add with their skills. Be sure to engage with passive candidates to keep your organization on their radar. Keep the lines of communication open, with honest updates on your needs and reflections on your esteem for their skills.

Don’t forget the benefits of maintaining current-employee engagement, even if a staff member’s job seems out-of-sync with your organization's changing needs. Remember, the value of their institutional memory will grow as they leap into new roles faster than a new hire could.

Be sure to refresh your Employee Value Proposition and your employer brand. Check your messaging across the board to maintain a consistent employer brand. Provide messaging updates to members of your hiring team, so everyone shares the same messaging with their contacts.

4. Keep recovery in mind. You must remain strategically aware while screening for skills that are most valuable to your recovery. Every team in your organization must reconsider the types of roles they’ll need in the future to realign with your post-COVID mission. To this end, you might find that resumes lack the information you require. It might be more advantageous to use tech-powered screening for behavioral attributes that will help you rebuild. Artificial Intelligence, psychometrics testing, and other digital behavioral or competency-based approaches can help you better understand, predict, and match the right people to your needs.

Hiring managers are also now discovering a tight jobs market. The challenges of COVID-19 caused many jobseekers to re-examine their career and personal goals, so it’s more important than ever to provide a highly positive candidate experience. Maintain open communication with these candidates, even if you can’t hire them right now. By focusing on candidate care now, you’re helping yourself with hiring success in the future.

For more on the tactics above, a look at hiring technology, and much more, download the eBook Workplace Management Tactics that Strengthen Nonprofits from UST.

UST provides workforce solutions for nonprofits, including cost-saving unemployment services and ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams.

This piece originally appeared in a slightly different form in the eBook Workplace Management Tactics that Strengthen Nonprofits.