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A Crucial Element for Successful Recruiting: Honesty

By November 16, 2023January 18th, 2024No Comments

Recruiting for new roles or to backfill old ones is never easy. The huge range of recruitment tools, job boards, recruitment platforms, a litany of best practices, and recruitment professionals for hire can help you seek out large numbers of candidates, making that part easier than before. However, it can be extremely challenging to not just find good candidates but find ones who will stay in their role for a while. Studies have found that 80% of new employees feel prepared to quit a job within six months of starting, indicating that there was some kind of mismatch between the person and the role. This illustrates that there are problems with the modern recruiting pipeline, one of which may be a lack of honesty and transparency.

Changing jobs frequently has become more common and is even seen as a way to get larger raises than what is available if you stick around. This means that modern workers are much more familiar with the recruitment pipeline, interviewing, and comparing offer letters. This has created greater competition between organizations to stand out and seem like the ideal place to work. This, in many cases, leads to job postings and interviews that sound the same, promising a great deal with seemingly few challenges or downsides. However, as 80% shows, this approach only works to get new employees in the door. Once they feel the reality of what it is like to work in that role, they may rethink it entirely.

Nonprofit leaders like you know the challenges you face when recruiting and retaining talent. Limited budgets, difficult, mission-driven work, and tough competition for workers mean turnover is a constant problem. While it might seem necessary or even essential to omit some of job challenges when seeking out new candidates, doing so does away with the critical filtering part of the recruitment process and brings in candidates who are likely to become disillusioned with the role or your organization. Being honest, transparent, and upfront with your expectations is a key way to differentiate yourself and bring in candidates who will last.

Here’s how you can make honesty and transparency a bigger part of your recruiting efforts:

Assess if honesty is an issue

If you aren’t sure why you are having trouble retaining people or you are struggling to find new hires, it is critical that you find out why. Developing feedback loops in your recruitment and on the job will help you gather information about whether or not your employees feel they understood the nature of the role coming in or if they feel misled. If you frequently have new employees who feel they are being asked to work more than they expected or who don’t understand the role, these could be signs of miscommunication during recruiting. Learning these facts will help you address these issues while allowing you to be more honest when recruiting.

Take stock of your organization

Honesty is important because it shows that you respect each job seeker enough not to mislead them or waste their time. Being able to give an honest assessment of where your organization stands, both the good and bad of it, means building a culture of transparency and feedback within. Whether it’s an internal anonymous survey or just a series of one-on-one conversations, you should be working to get a consensus of how your employees feel, what they need to do their work better, and what is already working well. This is also a great retention strategy as you bring new people on and work to meet their needs.

Don’t imitate other organizations

A common competitive strategy is to look at what others are doing, take the parts you like, discard what you don’t, and fashion your own approach. However, doing this with recruiting isn’t going to help you stand out, and it isn’t honest. Keep in mind, that job seekers are often lied to; 36% of hiring managers lie to recruits either during interviews, on job postings, or in offer letters. While having an idea of who you are competing with and what remuneration and benefits they offer is worthwhile, you should have a discussion within your current team about what they need out of the role you’re hiring for, and set wages and benefits to align with the job responsibilities as much as possible.

Be upfront about the bad and the good

While job interviews are primarily about learning about the candidate, they can, along with job postings, be a great time to share information about the role and your organization. Being as upfront as possible about things like salary, schedule, and benefits, as well as more nuanced topics like organizational culture and long-term goals will not only help the candidate make a good choice but it will encourage them to be honest as well. If you are backfilling a role or you’ve had trouble finding the right fit, say that. If you know your salary is lower than what other organizations may be offering, you should be clear about that.

Although these might be difficult topics to discuss, you should also use this time to talk about your organization’s strong points, like their effectiveness at getting the most out of donor support, a culture of people who are passionate about the cause, and a strong leadership team. Another benefit of being honest about your organizational challenges, limited resources, and whatever else, is that you can speak frankly about your best assets, and job seekers will take those claims much more seriously.

We’ve been there before. We can help you recruit a great team

501(c) Services is driven by many of the same values you have — our team of career-long nonprofit HR experts are deeply familiar with the challenges inherent to nonprofit recruiting and retention. Our team can help you identify new opportunities and resources to help you hire more effectively and build a lasting team. If you’d like to learn more about how our services can help you, please get in touch.


501(c) Services has more than 40 years of experience helping nonprofits with unemployment outsourcing, reimbursing, and HR services. Two of our most popular programs are the 501(c) Agencies Trust and 501(c) HR Services. We understand the importance of compliance and accuracy, and we are committed to providing our clients with customized plans that fit their needs.

Contact us today to see if your organization could benefit from our services.

Already working with us and need assistance with an HR or unemployment issue? Contact us here.

(Photo by Tim Mossholder, Andre Mouton)

The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.

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