We have been inspired by the work of several groups who are championing changes to recruitment practice in the not-for-profit sectors. In particular we have been following the work of Charity So White, Non-Grads Welcome and Show The Salary. We recommend you take a look! As a result, we overhauled our approach in 2021, and made some further tweaks this year.
We are half-way through our current process – having advertised, shortlisted and interviewed. Here are five steps we have taken to improve our process and what we have learned so far:
As trainers who work across not-for-profit sectors, we seek out people who can be credible and empathetic to the people on our courses. That largely means understanding the challenges that managers working in charities and public sector organisations face, and having some experience of working in these organisations or alongside them. For that reason, we are seeking people with potential, not qualifications and direct training experience. This means we have a diverse range of applications, which has been great to see. It also means we don’t ask for CV’s or how long someone has been in a role in our application form – instead we focus on the quality of someone’s past experience, their understanding of our customers, and their ability to learn.
In our adverts we have been showing an exact salary for the roles we have advertised. This is important to us because we want to be upfront about what we can pay, and are not really interested in what people have been paid before. As above, we are not looking for people who have done this role before, so previous salaries are not relevant. We have also been honest about what our work is like – working hours, travel, tasks, where we can be flexible (and where we can’t). We hope that this means applicants know what they can expect from us. It also means we avoid any negotiation on pay, which can be a challenge for a small organisation and uncomfortable for applicants.
We recognise that in our training courses, trainers will have knowledge of the topic and will be prepared. Therefore, there is no reason for us not to help people to prepare for an interview with us. Trainers will also, from time to time, get an unexpected question and need to think on their feet a little. For this reason, we share question areas ahead of interview stages. This means applicants come prepared to their interview, and also adapt to the specific question asked. We’re not looking for the ability to pitch perfectly or be interviewed by customers once in the role – we help our team to develop these skills later on for those who want to progress to a more senior role. We are looking for people who take care to prepare. As a result, the quality of answers has been fantastic, really thought through.
It can be really hard when you work in a role day in day out to be open to new ideas and approaches. We all have blind spots. Therefore, we have engaged an independent consultant to support our process. First we had the process audited by an HR expert, who then joined us on interview panels. Then this year we have brought in a critical friend – a consultant who has been a participant on our programmes, and was a customer who has booked our programmes. This means they have a really good understanding of what our role is. They helped with shortlisting – which was a blind process (all personal information removed before the panel reviewed the applications). This has been really useful. They have held us to account, been objective in their scores, and helped us to clarify our scoring mechanism by challenging our assumptions.
We are always seeking feedback on our training, and so the same applies to our recruitment process. In 2021, we were delighted to welcome Rachel Whittle and Andreia Monteiro to the team. Both have given feedback on their experience which has helped us to tweak the process this year. Their feedback was invaluable – it’s really important to listen to the experience of your applicants. We are aiming to make the process as comfortable as possible for applicants – whilst acknowledging it will always be a bit challenging. I’m really thrilled that they will both be helping further down the process too. So far, applicants have been positive about their experience, sharing feedback in interviews and applications that they welcomed our approach. We’ll be sure to ask for further feedback as we go along as there will always be further improvements we can make.
We’re only half way through our current recruitment process, so there’s plenty more to learn. Coming up we have a group stage and a final interview. I’m really excited to see the results. If you’d find it useful to have a chat about your recruitment process, and to share ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us online.