About Organizer Recruitment
Thomas R. Hawkins, PH.D.
... Briarwood Group Associates
This communication is to provide some insight about organizer recruiting from a recruiter's perspective utilizing the facts about hiring organizers in a ‘not for profit’, faith based organizing network, over the past decades.
Recruit means to "form or strengthen an organization by enlisting members or followers." Experts say you must develop a "recruitment culture" for the organization.
The following is the usual scenario after a search committee contracts with the Briarwood Group Associates to recruit for the local community organization. This effort may be in concert with a lead organizer, executive director or where there was no organizer, by the search committee. In earlier years it was found that at least 50 applications for a position would have to be available to find a capable organizer. This number was even difficult to find in the earlier recruiting years, but most recently, there have been over 100 applications and several times 200 or more, which almost certainly would reveal someone worthy. The use of the Internet and broader approaches to reach potential organizers has been more productive. Experienced organizers are not always seeking another position, or ready and willing to move to your community. In addition, the cost for the trained and experienced faith based organizer is sometimes prohibitive for a new organization.
Process to Find Competences and Life Experiences
Finding the potential organizer then, is important. What is the profile for a successful faith based organizer? Currently, the Briarwood Group Associates has research in progress and has developed a 'profile' of an organizer's key characteristics and aptitudes to help the hiring process. The initial screening searches for these characteristics, including the ‘life experiences’ mirroring the job description. During the processing of resumes, initial screening isn’t based on just looking over the resume, but a detailed analysis, and numerical scoring is used to reach the top twenty that you wish to pursue. This process is concurrent with also determining whether the prospect wants to improve communities and seek social justice to offset inferior public policies. An organizer job description is the paramount vehicle to screen candidates more so than the usual personality traits one may use as a part of the process. Their personal life, family obligations, ethnic, religious or any other possible discrimination aspects that may be used when questioning the prospect must be done with care. Avoid any illegal interview questions not approved by EEOC regulations. Therefore, a detailed, documented, and consistent recruitment and interviewing process is necessary for satisfactory and unchallenged results.
Process and Timetable to Meet the Search Deadlines
Briarwood’s methods of recruiting is cost effective and gets the result of the numbers of applications necessary to find someone that stands out for hiring. The methodology is not going to be done easily by volunteers. New strategies are continually brought into the system to get more out of the dollar spent for this outsourcing method. There may be applications on hand by Briarwood, from people with appropriate backgrounds, including Peace Corp, Vista, Americore or minority candidates. But they may be lost, after being on file for sometime. Current posting and advertising is the effective path for successful recruiting. Applications going to one source, evaluated, and screened with a definitive scoring mechanism become very effective for the actual hiring process.
After the best prospects are listed a screening of those people is now appropriate. Key members of the organization’s search committee should now be poised to help the recruiter screen to detect the finalists, on a day selected, for nine hours. It is highly recommended that officers and lay people agree to help, keeping to the consultant’s recommended process. The only work by the committee, up to that point, is authorization, and then help with the final screening which is essential. The Briarwood Group will have recommendations to seriously screen twenty candidates that meet the basic requirements for an organizer position. The collaboration is recommended and actually needed. Put the candidates available through a process that cannot be easily criticized, and can meet EEOC regulations to avoid liability for inappropriate or apparent inappropriate procedures.
Demographics play a part in the outcome for someone wanting to work in your community. Over 4000 applications have been processed by Briarwood Group Associates since 1999. The Briarwood Group Associates have experienced that out of every 100 applicants, less than 20 people (20 %) appear to have the competencies that may work in this field, and few with actual experience that parallels a faith based organizer. After pre-screening to get these 20 or so, there is the screening interview and possibly a re-interview of four or five (5 %) that are called "finalists." After that, there is a hope that at least two (2) or more can be recommended for hire, and that decision would usually be made after going to training as a prerequisite to hiring. This option creates a seasonal hiring mode due to training dates. Training dates and the hiring date anticipated must be coordinated. Based on the above statistics, it is obvious that you can’t just find the ideal person because they seem to be nice and knowledgeable. To acquire an organizer trainee without detailed screening and comparisons to each other from a pool of applicants may not lead to a successful professional candidate, but merely provide an assistant to help the organization temporally. Planning is important to avoid missteps in the process.
The detailed process for this work has been developed by the Briarwood Group Associates as a copyrighted process, all rights reserved, due to the unique concept utilized. Details about the process can be provided to the local committee, as requested.
In most searches, in today’s society, there is a keen interest in obtaining a diverse spectrum of applications. Appreciating diversity and attraction of a diverse pool is a concern when advertising. Obtaining minority recruits in earlier years was disappointing. More recently, however, due to a transition from the less responsive and costly newspaper advertising, Internet searches and advertising have produced remarkable results, with greater numbers of minorities applying, thus providing a good cross section of available people. Local, community and regional newspaper ads, intertwined with the response to web sites have enhanced the process and kept costs down. All applications are processed through web sites and the Internet by e-mail, exclusively.
On occasion, a community specifically seeks to find a minority organizer. Initially, not every community organization has a specific reason for the type of organizer they want to insure success. The best prospect is most important. It remains to be seen, however, who will be selected according to the generic and specific requirements for a community organizer, and the outcome of an objective/subjective process many minority applicants, particularly African American, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern candidates have been interviewed in the screening process and have been sent to the prerequisite special leadership training. Yes, minorities are being hired, including women, and are doing well.
The local community perspective about hiring an organizer should always be the paramount consideration in regard to the above review, since the local organization provides the leadership that moves the organization and pays the bills. The main concern is to find the best variety of prospects available at that time, and have a good idea what the community needs in the way of an organizer for that environment and demographics.
Community Self Interest, Marketing and Organization Strength
As a part of the recruitment program, dealing with hundreds of people in the process, another result that happens is an interest about the community and what faith based organizing is all about, and the power of people joining together for a common cause. How can someone get involved, whether hired or not? This happens, at times, particularly with the finalists not hired who live in the community.
Another result of the commitment to get someone hired is to form or strengthen the organization. True recruitment should also be from within the organization, through members of a search committee that can be 'on hand' to go through the process. A local candidate may also be forthcoming, and this local identity, perhaps, an intern, should be ready and available to go through the screening process. This process disallows favoritism, cronyism or any other ‘ism’' that may come from critics. Seldom does an inexperienced recent college graduate (intern or not) make it as a finalist, except to satisfy the fairness of the local process, unless that candidate has a background in real world life experiences.
Sometimes, a strong supporter of a ‘local’ candidate may usurp the recruitment process to push the candidate through to hire. At times this strategy works but a split vote by the board, due to ‘no process,’ handicaps the new organizer with split support. They may have been hired, in any event, but the process was eliminated and the competitive advantage in hiring the best candidate disallows the support necessary to do a good job, even if this candidate was the best fit for the position. This event doesn’t strengthen the organization, or the community.
Search committees are sometimes open to getting someone experienced recommended by a parent organization or consultant. The search committee many times wants a process to avoid complications when 'one of their own' wants the job, as well. A cut down version of the recruitment process can be adapted to this occasion, using the finalist screening procedure, but with all the ‘bells and whistles’ in the process. The Briarwood recruitment process could help a lead organizer if they have the sole 'power' to hire, to show good faith, and to prove that the best available person was recommended to the board. There have been a few occasions that actual ‘parent organization’ recommendations have been met with some contempt, since the local committee wants 'ownership,' although the local organization may then want the parent organization to guide and train 'their person.'
The local recruit, the intern, the good local prospect or someone 'spotted' at training is still possibly the one that will be picked for the position. Everyone, including the new organizer may be happy with the result, especially if they 'won' the position through a legitimate, objective/subjective process.
Considerations about Recruiting Cost Effectiveness
It takes about sixty (60) workdays to hire an organizer, utilizing methods that promote nationwide interest and exposure. In addition, there is a cost benefit analysis to consider if you want to have someone travel across the United States for an interview. Usually, but not in all cases, applicants may seek travel expenses for long distances. This may not prove cost effective. A regional perspective prevails for the screening and final interviews but there have been several exceptions.
Local and national organization grant applications to obtain funds for recruiting have described the amount of work that goes into recruiting, screening applications, hiring and retaining (training) a candidate. Recruiting, once started, is an everyday procedure that must respond to incoming interests, questions, and applications.
It should be noted that applications become stale after about 45 days, and if the recruiter doesn’t make some contact, and be consistent in tone and demeanor, either by telephone, an interview or e-mail, the candidate may be no longer available.
Recruiting those attending leadership training or the use of internships has proved somewhat beneficial by adding organizers to the list of those already employed by an organization. Starting a neophyte as the first or lead organizer for a new or established organization is questionable. The cost effectiveness has not been apparent when comparing the cost of training interns versus the cost of professionally recruiting ‘pros’ or those with the self-interest and/or ‘life experiences’ necessary for good work, and longevity. In addition, those starting out as interns have a questionable rate of retention in the organizations, although if an ‘understudy' to a lead organizer, the loss isn’t as apparent when the intern leaves without the portfolio of a trained organizer. This aspect needs a current review. More research needs to be done about retaining interns as organizers or hiring ‘local’ leaders as the main organizers. Non-profit personnel departments are few and far between, and this aspect hasn't been thoroughly reviewed. Research of grants obtained to hire interns as organizers, in the past, by organizer networks has revealed that the retention rate and success didn’t warrant the cost versus recruiting a trained or mature professional organizer, since the retention rate was not good. Although the grant did provide temporary help with the internship dollars. (Retention rate should be two to three years, and preferable longer). There are a few great organizers who were ‘graduate interns,’ however, with greater life experiences and maturity to develop their career. Some faith-based networks utilize a network of trainees, usually young graduates who will accept the lower salaries, initially, upon graduation. There needs to be a long series of opportunities for the person to grow in their field, and a transparent career path with salary and benefits for a profession.
Network Training as a Screening Process
This is an important final step in finding the best person for your position. The result of candidates attending training as a part of the screening process has led to a variety of impressions by those who were asked to observe the candidates. It is important to keep a liaison at the training to help interpret the results of observations. Even when the local committee has been very receptive to the finalists, they may not get a consistent recommendation from the trainers to hire that prospect. The search continues, unless the search committee pursues the case to their satisfaction. The trainers are there to train, and the impressions as to how someone reacts to the training bring about the opinions from the trainers. Many times there is not a consensus about the candidate’s potential in this isolated situation.
The Hiring Proposal and Contract
In some cases, although the finalists have been accepted and the 'best one' is propositioned with a contract, the candidate’s misgivings about location, the community, salary and/or benefits or surprises squelch the deal. Then the search goes on. In the meantime many phone calls, e-mails and discussions are forthcoming. How the finalists are handled, the liaison from beginning to the end of the process should be consistent, and without undue influence or unexpected barriers: e.g. additional job requirements, unexpected costs, withdrawing of benefits, trying out different strategies to reduce costs that are different than the job announcement prescribed earlier etc. The liaison (contact) for the finalist must be the same person throughout the process that got you to this point. A candidate must have been studied in regard to their present position and salary, their salary requirements, your organizations ability to provide benefits, whether you are going to provide moving expenses, opportunities for living arrangements, or areas to live in the community etc.
All in all, the recruitment process is complex but, if done correctly, will enhance your community organization.
Briarwood Group Associates www.briarwoodgroup.com
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