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Accelerating Your Nonprofit Executive Search with LinkedIn

The nonprofit executive search is a notorious hiring challenge. Finding someone who is aligned with the organization’s mission and able to take on so much responsibility makes executive hiring considerably more time-consuming and expensive than filling most open roles, which means that nonprofit hiring teams are under a lot of pressure to make the right hire as efficiently as possible. 

This is where LinkedIn can help. By tapping into the platform’s vast professional network, nonprofit hiring teams can streamline their nonprofit executive search and find candidates who match their needs quickly and effectively. In fact, two out of three surveyed nonprofit professionals already use LinkedIn to source talent.

During your nonprofit’s next executive search, try using these strategies to find and engage the right candidates on LinkedIn. 

Write a descriptive (but not prescriptive) job description

Whether you want candidates to come to you or plan to proactively search for the right person, writing a great job description is essential. A strong job description for a nonprofit executive role will be detailed enough to help candidates self-select in or out depending on their interests and experience, while also being concise and easy to read. Your candidates are likely busy people and may not be actively looking for a new role, so communicating key information quickly is critical. 

In any job description, it’s important to highlight your organization’s mission, key responsibilities of the role, and the impact your new hire will have. For nonprofit executive roles in particular, you’ll likely have a longer list of requirements than you would for a more junior position. Before you write the job description, take the time to go over each requirement with the hiring team and determine if it’s essential or just nice to have. By sticking only to essential requirements, you may find it easier to attract a wider pool of applicants with diverse experience that can benefit your nonprofit.

If you’re not sure where to start, explore the LinkedIn hiring guides, which include job description templates for roles like Director of Donor Relations and Executive Director. When you’re ready, you can post the job for free on LinkedIn or pay to promote it to the most qualified candidates. 

Use search filters and Boolean strings to find relevant candidates

Every LinkedIn member has access to basic search features, allowing them to search their extended network and filter the results based on criteria like job title and industry. If your organization uses LinkedIn Talent Solutions, you’ll be able to search the entire LinkedIn network — over a billion professionals around the world — and rapidly home in on the right people by leveraging over 40 advanced filters, including years of experience, spoken languages, seniority, and more. 

To take your search strategy to the next level, try using Boolean logic when running nonprofit executive searches. This involves combining keywords with the operators AND, OR, NOT, quotation marks, and parenthesis to get even more specific about what you’re looking for on a person’s profile. For example, if you were recruiting a new Chief Financial Officer, you might want to only see profiles for people who are both a Certified Public Accountant and have “nonprofit financial management” as a listed skill.

A simplified look at a search in LinkedIn Recruiter showing a list of nonprofit professionals who match the job title and skills that the user has searched for.

After you’ve typed your keywords or Boolean string into the LinkedIn search bar, select “People” from the menu to view a list of profiles that match your search criteria. If you use LinkedIn Recruiter, you can further filter your results based on factors like a person’s profile activity and interest in your organization, so you can prioritize candidates based on who is most likely to respond. If a person has been in their current role for longer than the average tenure, for instance, they may be ready to explore new opportunities. 

Get busy candidates’ attention using InMail messages

When you identify a top candidate for an executive role at your nonprofit, you want to make sure your outreach message gets read. Reaching out via LinkedIn can help you avoid their cluttered inbox and get their attention on a platform they likely already use to explore professional opportunities. 

If you use LinkedIn Recruiter or Recruiter Lite, you’ll have a monthly allocation of InMails (direct messages) that you can use to reach out to almost anyone on LinkedIn, even if you’re not connected. Spend a few minutes reviewing the candidate’s LinkedIn profile before drafting your message. Weave in some personalized details about why you think they’d be an ideal fit for your organization, how your mission aligns with their interests and values, or why the role is a great next step in their career. If you share a mutual connection, you could even ask this person to introduce you to help get the conversation started. 

Hiring a new executive for your nonprofit can be challenging. But by using these strategies, you’ll be interviewing promising candidates in no time. 

To maximize the efficiency of your next nonprofit executive search, get started with LinkedIn Talent Solutions for nonprofits.