Hiring new staff can be exciting, scary, frustrating, and exhausting all at the same time. It’s exciting because a good hire can launch the organization to new heights. It’s scary because a bad hire can stagnate a team or even cripple an organization. It’s frustrating because going through resume after resume and interview after interview without finding the right person leaves a search team exhausted.
Most churches and non-profits start a staff search by creating a committee. Sometimes it works out great. Sometimes it’s a soul crusher. Hiring help is available, but when should an organization consider seek staffing support?
If your church or non-profit has experienced any of these scenarios, it would be wise to consider outside help.
YOU ARE OVERWHELMED AND CAN'T PROPERLY COMMUNICATE WITH CANDIDATES
The vast majority of churches and non-profits do not have a HR department. This means the hiring process is done by volunteers with full-time commitments elsewhere and staff who are already doing many tasks. When this happens it’s hard to keep up with applications. I’ve seen organizations:
- Fail to acknowledge a candidate’s application
- Fail to follow-up after deciding to move on with other candidates
- Send multiple rejection emails to the same candidate (yes, this has happened)
Poor communication doesn’t just reflect negatively on an organization, it also denies candidates the basic decency they deserve. It might be understandable (though not excusable) for a large corporation, whose bottom line is profitability, to treat people like a cog in a machine. But a church or non-profit usually has a mission of serving people. Their staffing candidates deserve to be treated like people.
YOU DON'T FILL A POSITION AFTER SEVERAL ROUNDS
Staff searches often take a long time. I’ve seen organizations search for years and not find the right candidate. They usually cite a line about patience and how it’s worth it to find the right person for the job. But what they don’t consider are all the missed opportunities and damage to the organization, caused by an absence of a critical team member.
A church looking for a youth worker can lose the opportunity to minister to multiple classes of students, while waiting for the right person. A non-profit might lose important donors and miss new funding opportunities. Finding the right candidate is essential but it doesn’t have to take so long it hurts your organization.
YOUR PERSONAL NETWORK COMES UP EMPTY
Filling a role through a connection is the dream. Churches and non-profits often have a hard time trusting unknown candidates, regardless of an impressive resume and good interviews. In the end, they are scared to go with a stranger and hold out for a connection.
It is fine to prioritize personal networks. But when those don’t yield great results, don’t be afraid to take a chance on a stranger. There are great candidates out there. The key in evaluating them is often through fresh eyes and someone not emotionally connected to the organization.
WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT OR NEED
This last scenario is difficult because few organizations have the self-awareness to realize they don’t know what they need and no one admits they don’t know what they want. What an organization needs is also subjective and when things don’t work out, you can always claim that hindsight is 20/20. But this is a real scenario and is often detrimental.
I’ve seen organizations basically say, “Everyone wants this type of person (A). We’re different. We want this type of person (B).” and then hire a person who personifies type (A). I’ve also seen situations where volunteer search committees are convinced they need a certain type of candidate but professional advice conclude otherwise. The volunteer committee goes with their gut and the hire doesn’t pan out. If an organization is wise enough to realize they don’t know what they want or need, seeking staffing support is a wise move.
So what is staffing support? There are consulting and search firms that specialize in working with churches or non-profits. They work just like a headhunter, recruiter, or an executive search firm. They collect applications, conduct interviews, vet candidates, and ultimately present the organization with a shortlist of qualified candidates. The cost is similar to private industry standards, between 20% - 30% of the position's first year salary. This is a significant cost and usually far exceeds what small churches and non-profits can afford and wish to spend. Sun Support is different in that all these services are available, but with enormous flexibility, which can reduce the price point drastically. So if your organization is struggling with finding the right candidate for a staff position, please contact Sun Support and learn what help is available and right for you.