Through an arrangement with TechSoup, PND is pleased to offer a series of articles about the effective use of technology by nonprofits.

Best technology practices for hiring nonprofit staff, part one

Best technology practices for hiring nonprofit staff, part one

At the heart of every nonprofit is its mission. But success in delivering on that mission depends on your employees. Which is why being able to attract and successfully recruit top talent to your nonprofit is of utmost importance. And whether you're new to recruiting or a seasoned veteran, technology plays a big role in how you recruit, even before you reach out to a candidate. In this two-part series, we'll go over some things to think about as you set up your recruitment process.

Let's dive in.

The importance of keeping up to date

Technology platforms are constantly changing, and those used for recruiting employees are no exception. You want to attract the best candidates, and to do that it's important to have a solid recruiting strategy in place. When technology fails you or recruiting logistics are not efficient, it shows the candidate that your organization may not be the right place for them. That' why it's important to do an audit of the technology currently available to you and to review your recruiting processes — ideally, every year.

There are a lot of advantages to conducting this sort of audit. Having the right tools needed to create, store, and maintain job descriptions is both useful and a time-saver. You can use them to inform hiring teams about the role they're recruiting for and to lead discussions about performance once the candidate has been hired. They can even be helpful for legal purposes.

Choosing the right platform to advertise your open positions will make it easier for the right candidates to find you and will help you develop a strong and diverse workforce. Using the right solution also will help save employee time, keep budgets under control, and allow you to keep a bird's eye view over the hiring process while showing candidates that you know how you operate, technologically speaking. If a candidate isn't impressed with your technology, they may decide to go elsewhere. It may not seem obvious, but tech infrastructure around the hiring process tells candidates a lot about how your organization operates and what it values.

Functionality within platforms

Currently, you may be using different platforms to handle different functions, but in the HR world there are a number of good platforms that handle multiple functions. Upgrading to one of those can mean fewer tools to deploy and maintain (i.e., money saved), fewer places where documents can get lost, and more time spent where it counts — on recruiting the best candidates to your organization.

For instance, you may be using one platform as a career page and applicant tracking system (ATS) and/or to serve your HR information system (HRIS) on the back end. But there are HRISes out there (ADPPayCom, or Paylocity) that also perform payroll functions, manage performance reviews, administer benefits, store documents, and deliver onboarding. 

Other platforms are designed to integrate with other systems that have features they don't. For example, an ATS like GreenhouseJazzHR, or Lever can be integrated with a calendaring system to make scheduling interviews easier. You can even find ATSes that integrate with your HRIS. Once you are done recruiting the candidate, you can then move them into your HRIS and start the hiring process.

Creating and storing hiring documents

While it's best to ask the hiring manager for the responsibilities of the position being offered, often he or she will need help figuring out how to best express what it is they are looking for. You can find similar job descriptions on any job board — don't be afraid to refer to them. You can also refer to O*NET OnLine, a U.S. Department of Labor–sponsored website that offers a number of resources for creating job descriptions and reviewing them against tasks, skills, and other employment trends. Lastly, it is always a good idea to review HR-focused websites such as SHRM and Nonprofit HR, where you'll find plenty of talent management and workforce planning resources.

Once you've created your job descriptions, you'll need to store and manage them for recruiting, talent management, and (potentially) legal reasons. Wherever you store them, the repository must be organized in a way that is consistent and makes the job descriptions accessible to the right people. Some HR information systems and applicant tracking systems have a document cloud where you can create and store files. You can also create a secure folder on cloud websites such Google Drive or Box.

The recruiting process

As more organizations go remote, it's important to think about how you will recruit candidates that you won't be interviewing — or working with — in person. You may want to use RingCentral if you are scheduling phone interviews, and for video calls you may want to use Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, or even FaceTime.

If you assign a take-home project or presentation to a prospective candiate, be sure to let the candidate know where he or she can upload their assignment. Again, being able to provide an upload link in Box or Google Drive is useful. Try to avoid asking candidates to submit their assignments as email attachments, as that will require you to store them in a centralized location on your internal system. (It will also minimize the chances that an assignment is lost if a member of the hiring team leaves the organization and forgets to upload them to the centralize repository.)

Advertising jobs

Once you've taken care of the back-end logistics involved in recruiting for a position, it's time to post it. Depending on the type and size of organization and how well known it is, different platforms may work better than others.

If your nonprofit is small or new, it may not make sense to have a career page until you've grown a bit. In such a situation, it might make more sense to recruit within your network, ask for referrals, or simply have an email address that people can use to submit their resumes or ask questions. It might even make sense to go to meetups that target the sort of candidates you're looking to hire. is a good place to start. But again, you should be storing all candidate-related documents, including resumes, in the cloud.

As your organization grows, it will be important to add a career page to your website. As the number of open positions at your organization increases, you'll want to be able to point someone to a particular job description and receive their application via a central source (e.g., a form on a career page). If you are not ready to invest in an ATS that connects with your website, you may decide to post your position on LinkedInGlassdoorCraigslist, or the job board in Philanthropy News Digest. These days you'll even see positions advertised on social media, targeted diversity boards, or at university career fairs. Wherever you decide to post your job descriptions, be sure to include contact info in every one so that interested candidates can reach out with questions.

And remember, even if you don't have all your "dream software" in place, it doesn't mean you can't recruit great talent. It probably does mean you'll have to be resourceful and think about what you have and how you can make it work for you. For example, most organizations have access to basic productivity suites such as Office 365 and Google Workspace. Either of these solutions can work well provided the right processes are in place.

In our next post, we will talk about how to manage the recruiting process once you start interacting with candidates.

Liz Forbes is a senior people & culture generalist at TechSoup. Elaine McKay contributed to the deveopment of the post.