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Making Entry-Level Nonprofit Jobs Truly Entry Level

“Make entry-level jobs entry-level,” reads the image accompanying a viral LinkedIn post from last year that highlights the large number of so-called entry-level roles requiring years of previous experience. This isn’t just an issue affecting job seekers in the corporate world: a recent analysis of more than 3.8 million jobs posted on LinkedIn since December 2017 found that 37.9% of entry-level positions at nonprofits ask for three or more years of experience. 

While it may seem intuitive to gravitate toward candidates who already have experience and therefore may need less training, this approach also has its downsides. For one thing, these new hires may need to unlearn certain processes before they can adapt to your organization’s way of doing things. 

More importantly, by creating a barrier to entry for people just entering the workforce or making a career transition, you may miss out on untapped talent with huge potential to go far at your nonprofit. 

5 ways to improve how you hire for entry-level positions

Making your nonprofit’s entry-level jobs more accessible to high-potential talent may require small but significant changes to your job posts and hiring process. These actions can help: 

  • Remove rigid requirements. These days, full-time jobs and college courses are not the only ways that people pick up skills. From boot camps to volunteering to gig work, your candidates may have gained a lot of valuable experience that your current list of job requirements doesn’t account for. Consider removing formal education and experience requirements altogether and replacing them with a description of the skills your new hire will need to succeed. 

  • Resist the urge to clone top performers. Rather than looking for someone with the same skills that your departing employee has now, consider the skills they had when they first joined your organization. Your new hire will be able to learn on the job, just like they did. If you don’t remember, see if you can find old job posts for the same position and use them as a guide.

  • Screen in, not out. If a candidate has an unconventional background, give them an opportunity to tell you more about themselves. You may find that they’ll bring a unique perspective to your nonprofit that can drive innovation—and they’ll appreciate that your organization took the time to get to know them. 

  • Test candidates’ skills. It can be difficult to gauge candidates’ skills from their resumes alone. Building assessments into your hiring process can provide a more accurate picture. If they’re coming onsite for an interview, for example, you could ask them to perform one of the tasks that your new hire will do regularly. Pay attention to their soft skills, like collaboration and creativity—the technical skills can more easily be trained. 

  • Consider creating paid apprenticeships. Unpaid internships can help people gain experience, but they aren’t financially viable for many job seekers. Paid apprenticeships can be a great alternative, emphasizing the training component and giving your team time to really get to know a person before extending a full-time offer. 

Nurture emerging talent and watch employees grow

Whether someone is just starting their career or transitioning into a new one, creating pathways to opportunity can pay off for your nonprofit in the form of greater loyalty and retention. Give new hires the opportunity to grow with your organization and they may stay with you for years.

As you build your nonprofit team, LinkedIn for Nonprofits’ hiring solutions can help you find the candidates you need—from emerging talent to C-level executives. Explore our solutions today.

This post was inspired by the LinkedIn Talent Blog article, Viral Post Asks Why 'Entry-Level' Jobs Often Require Years of Experience,” authored by Samantha McLaren.

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