8 Tips for Creating Compelling Nonprofit Job Postings
In the midst of the Great Reshuffle, it’s more important than ever to write job descriptions that truly capture what it’s like to work at your nonprofit, and what a candidate will need to thrive in the role. A laundry list of responsibilities and requirements won’t win hearts or minds, especially for candidates who are looking to move out of roles they’ve found unfilling.
If you have existing job description templates, taking an hour or two to review and adjust them now can save you time in the long run by helping your organization reduce turnover and repeat hiring. Here are eight things you can do to improve your current set.
1. Create a strong opener
Today’s candidates are looking at nearly twice as many job postings per application as they were two years ago. That means that if your job description doesn’t start strong, they may click away before they even get to the important parts.
It’s crucial to strike the right balance between compelling and concise. One way to do this is to make your introduction about your candidate first, allowing you to grab their attention before you start talking about your organization. Speak to readers directly by using “you” and “your” statements, rather than phrases like “the ideal candidate,” then hook candidates with your amazing mission.
Feeding America is one nonprofit that uses this approach to great effect. When hiring for an Innovation Manager, their job description opened by getting readers to picture themselves in a role where they could make a real difference, before zooming out to talk about the organization’s broader team and mission:
“Imagine a place where your talent can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Working at Feeding America is a uniquely rewarding experience in which our employees work together as vital parts of a much larger mission. We are innovative, mission-focused, diverse, collaborative, values-driven and focused on results.”
2. Go beyond words alone
Job descriptions can include more than just blocks of text and bullet points. Pictures, videos, and audio recordings can help you bring the role to life and showcase your nonprofit’s unique culture and powerful work, all while making your job posts incredibly memorable.
Consider linking to a video of an employee discussing how meaningful they find the work, or one of your leaders talking about your mission and how the new hire will contribute to it. Kiva, for example, features a video on its career page that addresses candidates on a more personal level and communicates the nonprofit’s mission and culture—from the friendly dogs in the office to the organization’s goal of creating a more equitable global financial system.
While content like this will take some time and effort to create, it may be worthwhile for certain high-profile or high-volume positions that have large applicant pools. And once you’ve created a great piece of content, you can reuse it when hiring for countless more roles in the future!
3. Seek out feedback
The more authentic your job posts are, the more likely you’ll be to attract candidates who are an ideal match for your organization. And one of the best ways to test authenticity? Ask other employees to review your job descriptions and provide feedback.
This could include the person who currently holds the role, or other people on the team that the new hire will be joining. Is the picture you’re painting an accurate one? Is there anything about the role or team environment that you’re missing?
4. Tell real stories
Beyond asking employees for feedback, you can also weave their stories into your job posts to give candidates a real sense of what day-to-day life at your nonprofits is like. Hearing directly from the people who might be their future coworkers can leave candidates inspired and excited to apply.
Feature short quotes for employees, or gather concrete examples of past projects and successes that will pique candidates’ interest. Getting employees more involved in the hiring process may also boost their engagement and make them feel more connected to your organization.
5. Double check for biased language
The language used in job descriptions can have a big impact on the diversity of your applicant pool. Certain word choices can signal to candidates that they won’t belong at your organization, even if that wasn’t your intent, which could cause you to lose out on exceptional talent.
It’s always worth double checking your posts to ensure they use inclusive language—like gender-neutral pronouns and job titles—before you hit post. (This can also help you catch any stray typos!) If you’re not sure where to start, there are a variety of tools, such as Textio and Textmetrics, that can help you identify unconscious bias and adjust your language.
6. Don’t shy away from talking about inclusion
Many job descriptions include an equal opportunity employer statement—often buried right at the bottom. But without surrounding inclusive language to back them up, these statements can sometimes come across as canned.
Highlighting not only that your organization is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion but why can send an encouraging message to candidates from all backgrounds. Take charity: water’s careers page, which underscores the nonprofit’s commitment to building a diverse team talent by stating “we believe that a diverse team, informed by different cultures and perspectives, makes us stronger.” The page then explains that charity: water is “committed to doing the work and challenging each other to be an organization in which everyone is respected and heard… and we will continue to embed diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equity in everything we do.”’
7. Emphasize skills and results over education and experience
While a college degree and past work experience can certainly be useful, there are many candidates with unconventional backgrounds who could be a huge asset to your nonprofit. Take a self-taught designer with an incredible portfolio who never went to college. They could completely transform your organization’s branding and marketing materials—but if the job description lists a four-year degree under the requirements, they’ll likely assume they’re unqualified and never apply.
Unless they’re absolutely essential to a role, consider removing educational requirements altogether from your job descriptions. Focus on the specific skills candidates will need to thrive, including both hard skills like being able to use a particular type of software, and soft skills like verbal communication. Better yet, outline what success in the role will look like and how a candidate’s skills will help them achieve it.
8. Be transparent, especially right now
The level of transparency you display in your job description signals to candidates how transparent your organization is as a whole. You don’t have to tell readers everything they could possibly want to know about your nonprofit (there’ll be time for that later), but being open and honest about things like your reporting structure can go a long way toward building trust.
The pandemic has also had a huge impact on what candidates want to know about jobs before they apply. Can the role be performed remotely? Is there any flexibility around work schedules? Consider adding these details when describing your culture, like the Rainforest Foundation does on its careers page:
“Rainforest Foundation US prides itself on providing a flexible, equitable, family-friendly and inclusive work environment that values work-life balance… Since the pandemic, employees can come into the office as they wish or negotiate with their supervisors to work from home or remotely.”
Hire exceptional nonprofit talent
Without incredible talent, your nonprofit couldn’t continue its incredible work. Revisiting your job descriptions from time to time as the market and your organization evolve can help you find the right people and get candidates excited about what your team is doing.
To learn more about posting jobs, building your employer brand, or sourcing candidates on LinkedIn, explore our nonprofit talent solutions today.
This post was inspired by the LinkedIn Talent Blog article “8 Tips for Writing Enticing Job Descriptions in a Candidates’ Market,” authored by Kate Reilly.