When thinking about the importance of job descriptions, we at RealHR Solutions cannot resist a quote from a sports legend who understood the value of defining roles and responsibilities better than most:
Individual commitment to a group effort — that’s what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. – Vince Lombardi
“Know where you fit in, know how you contribute to the greater whole, and know and appreciate the roles of those around you,” another former coach told his players and staff repeatedly throughout the season. These coaches understood that each individual on their team and clearly defined roles were critical to the success of their organizations.
Yet, one of the biggest barriers to success for small businesses is the lack of investment, whether of time or resources, in the development of a successful team. This often starts with resistance to creating too much structure—and skepticism about defining and formalizing roles.
But, for your business to grow, you must define and communicate not only your vision of success for your employees but also how they can achieve it. Effective job descriptions can help you accomplish both.
In this quick guide, we will review everything that leaders of growing organizations need to know about job descriptions, including:
As you lay the foundation for your organization’s growth, job descriptions can and should be a cornerstone piece of your strategy. They are a critical tool for defining roles and building your team and your business—you just need a firm grasp on the essentials to get started.
Why Job Descriptions Matter
There are a number of important implications when it comes to defining job requirements and objectives with formal job descriptions. We break them down into three key categories:
1. Strategic Implications of Job Descriptions
On a strategic level, job descriptions align people with company goals, vision, and culture. They help you determine and define:
How needs will be met
Any gaps in the responsibility of roles
The functional expertise needed for a given job
How each job fits into the company as a whole
Job descriptions, when utilized and written properly, are a communication tool that sets transparent expectations and helps create value for both the organization and its employees.
2. Tactical Implications of Job Descriptions
On a tactical level, job descriptions serve as a tool in all areas of the employee lifecycle. More specifically, job descriptions have a direct impact on how you hire, manage, pay, and develop your employees. In the process of carefully drafting job descriptions you will:
Determine the functional expertise needed for a given job and clarify specific job requirements and qualifications, which leads to better hiring decisions.
Delineate work assignments, serving to detect overlaps or gaps in positions and drive realignment of organizational structure as necessary.
Create agreement around expectations between managers and staff.
Define performance standards, inform performance evaluations, and clarify expectations for performance management and corrective action.
Clarify jobs internally to maintain equitable and competitive pay programs, and to benchmark positions in the external market.
Influence job-related training and employee development.
3. Legal Compliance Implications of Job Descriptions
Under the ADA, an individual must be able to perform the “essential functions” of the job, with or without reasonable accommodations. Employers who use job descriptions have the opportunity to set forth those essential job functions in writing to avoid areas of doubt. This can help prevent any controversy about what an employee must be able to do to perform their job successfully.
Under the FLSA and similar state laws that relate to overtime pay provisions, job descriptions are used to categorize positions as “exempt” or “non-exempt.” Employers must accurately describe the job duties in order to determine whether the position is eligible for overtime pay or meets any of the exemptions under the law. Improper classification could lead to backpay of overtime and possibly penalties.
Essential Elements of Job Descriptions
Job descriptions should include the following elements:
FLSA status (exempt or non-exempt)
Statement of purpose or objective of the position
Purpose of the work as it relates to the company’s mission and goals
Education, including degrees, professional certifications, and licenses required to perform the job
Qualifications and specific skills required, including years of and type of experience; and management, decision-making, and problem-solving skills
Work location and conditions, physical requirements, equipment and tools used, travel required, and work schedule
A statement that the job description is not intended to represent a complete, comprehensive list of all duties and that there may be unplanned activities and other duties assigned
You may also want to consider more competency-based job descriptions that emphasize expectations and accountabilities rather than specific tasks. This approach focuses more on results rather than just job duties.
Job Description Template
This template combines the essential elements listed above into one easy example:
By including these essential elements, you will have covered all of the most important bases of an effective job description. Of course, your organization should take the time to fully consider exactly your exact needs and how your descriptions may need to differ from this example. HR consultants can be invaluable partners in this process.
How to Write a Job Description
Creating job descriptions requires a careful analysis of each position needed to support your business operations and the relationship of each position to one another. Here are our suggestions for completing the process successfully:
In the absence of an internal human resources professional, it is advisable to get legal or human resources expertise in the job description process.
Engage employees early in the process. Create a questionnaire to be completed by staff and approved by managers.
Determine requirements for a position by interviewing and observing appropriate incumbent employees.
Begin compiling job requirements and observations.
Start by providing a broad description rather than listing every task—in listing every task you are bound to leave something out or box yourself into a corner, where employees may question activities not specified in their job descriptions.
Additionally, base descriptions on current job requirements and responsibilities, not only on what an incumbent is actually doing or the incumbent’s qualifications.
Identify and use sources for sample job descriptions, like the template above.
Draft your job descriptions with managers and employees, following a consistent format by using a job description template.
Create a review and approval process to ensure buy-in from employees and management.
Develop a process to keep job descriptions current by reviewing them on a periodic basis.
If you update a job description, just be sure to share it with incumbents in that role and get their written acknowledgment of the updates.
Wrapping Up: The Importance of Defining Roles and Responsibilities
There is no more essential tool when it comes to human resources planning than well-written job descriptions. When your employees know where they fit in, understand how to contribute to the whole, and appreciate the roles of the people around them, they can successfully contribute to the growth and success of the team and the business.
If you know that your organization could use outside expertise in creating or updating job descriptions, reach out to an HR expert. Alternately, if you are unsure whether your current job descriptions, FLSA classifications, or hiring practices could be improved, an audit conducted by an HR consultant might be the best first choice. And to keep learning, continue your research with these additional resources:
Response to the Great Resignation. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues impacting the labor landscape in unforeseen ways, all organizations can stand to brush up on what these changing trends mean and how they can adapt.
Culture: Your Company’s #1 Asset. An organization’s culture has far-reaching impacts on employee engagement and retention, and even its bottom line. Learn more with our thoughts on why culture is so critical.
These and similar retorts are frequent responses when someone is the focus of a discrimination or harassment complaint. Sometimes, the individual in question does not understand what they did wrong, and attempt to defend their actions by explaining that others misconstrued what took place.
Although the employee may be describing their state of mind accurately, that is not the measure of whether unlawful conduct occurred. Simply accepting this explanation does not address the complaining employee’s concerns nor fulfill the company’s obligations.
In this blog, we explore the following topics to help you understand these concepts and how they affect your workplace and HR initiatives:
Intent lies within the mind of the actor. It is solely from their point of view and may or may not be apparent to anyone but that person. Impact focuses on the feelings and reactions of those present when a person utters certain words or engages in particular conduct. How others receive a message is the impact – the effect of those actions.
Often intent and impact do not align.The individual speaking or acting may have the best intentions but that does not necessarily translate to those around them. In some instances, unconscious biases can lead good intentions to go awry.
If the message does not come across as planned or is misinterpreted, conflict can result. The reality is that someone may feel offended, degraded, or harassed. When an employee feels this way, they may believe they are the target of unlawful discrimination or harassment.
For example, a supervisor makes a point of explaining everything in detail to an employee for whom English is not their primary language. The supervisor just wants to help and make sure the employee is not at a disadvantage. However, the employee does not need the added explanation and views the supervisor’s actions as condescending and demeaning. They report the supervisor to HR.
How your organization responds when someone raises questionable behavior will inform employees about your level of commitment to maintaining a welcoming, positive workplace and set the stage for any legal action that may follow.
The Injured Party’s Perception Is What Matters
Many individuals accused of discrimination or harassment do not see themselves as malicious or trying to mistreat others, but their opinion of the situation does not determine when improper conduct occurred. Bad intent is not required if the end result is a hostile work environment or adverse employment action.
The law does apply a reasonable person standard when assessing if conduct rises to the level of legally actionable, but that does not mean that the recipient needs to accept unwelcome conduct just because others do. As long as the individual’s reaction to the comment or behavior is within reason, unlawful conduct may have taken place, warranting a company response.
We were all just joking around!
Addressing Discrimination and Harassment in Your Workplace
Everyone perceives the world differently based on their unique backgrounds and experiences. To avoid miscommunication, we must sensitize ourselves to how others approach the world and understand that our actions have consequences – some positive, some negative.
Setting the Ground Rules
As an employer, you need to send the message that harassment, discrimination, and retaliation are not accepted in your workplace. Implementing thoughtful, well-designed policies and procedures is an important first step. Consistent application of your policies shows that the company will do the right thing and take corrective action if employees raise concerns.
Getting Employees Up to Speed
Communication, training, and modeling are critical to understanding and embracing anti-discrimination and harassment policies. Incorporating policies into your handbook, reviewing them when onboarding new hires, and periodically disseminating them company-wide are good practices. However, engaging, interactive training sessions may be the best way to reinforce this information. In fact, this type of training is required in certain states.
Whether or not mandated by the state or locality in which your organization has operations, a comprehensive engaging program is highly recommended. Effective training sessions focus not only on the legal implications of discriminatory conduct, but also the benefits of creating and maintaining a work environment that appreciates and values every employee’s contribution and unique talents. Modules that focus on unconscious bias are often incorporated when discussing these topics.
No one looked upset!
Taking Action After an Incident
Even with all the right policies, programs, and training in place, situations will arise that need addressing. In addition to having a legal obligation to investigate these matters, it is the right thing for employers to do – for employee engagement, betterment of the organizational climate, and overall business success.
The procedures you have in place should provide employees, managers, and HR representatives with a clear roadmap for handling complaints. The key to reaching a fair and satisfactory resolution is a thorough and objective review process. Every employee involved must be treated with respect and have an opportunity to share their version of the events as well as any concerns they may have without fear of reprisals or retaliation.
Some employers have the resources within their organizations to conduct investigations, but many hire outside counsel or consulting firms. When you engage a third-party, you have the benefit of an objective, outsider’s view of the incident.
Oh, c’mon. They are being overly sensitive!
How RealHR Solutions Can Help You Commit to a Welcoming Work Environment
If you are looking for ways to enhance your culture, improve employee communications, and avoid the problems that may arise when employee intent does not match the impact, RealHR has solutions. Our team of HR professionals has decades of combined HR expertise and experience developing policies, training programs, and conducting workplace investigations. Our goal is to help our clients create a positive, welcoming and productive workplace, but if complaints arise, we can help to address them promptly and fairly.
We do not market off-the-shelf solutions. Instead, we assess each company’s particular needs and design HR strategies and initiatives to address those exact concerns. When meeting with our HR professionals, we review your current situation and help you determine what makes sense for your business.
Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced the launch of the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program (NICIP), aimed at bolstering New York’s vital social safety net. This initiative will provide a minimum of $60 million in capital grant funding to eligible nonprofit human services organizations, facilitating the delivery of essential services to the people of New York. These funds will support both small- and large-scale construction projects, enabling nonprofits to enhance their infrastructure and meet the increasing demands for their services.
Grant Opportunities for Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofit organizations that directly serve New Yorkers by providing crucial programs and services are eligible to apply for grants ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. These grants will aid in the successful completion of construction projects, ensuring that organizations can meet the needs of their communities effectively. The program’s emphasis lies in advancing projects that are ‘shovel ready,’ with completion anticipated on or before December 2026.
Governor Hochul stated, “The Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program is one of our state’s most powerful tools to strengthen and preserve New York’s social safety net. Nonprofit organizations are an essential partner in delivering critical services to individuals in need, but far too often, infrastructure needs and a lack of capital funding stretch these organizations to capacity. By making transformative investments in our nonprofit sector, my administration is committed to maintaining the vital resources and services that New Yorkers rely on.”
Administering the Program
The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) will oversee the administration of the NICIP and will publish the Request For Applications (RFA) on its website. Additionally, funding opportunities will be made available through the New York State Grants Gateway. Prospective nonprofit applicants will receive crucial information through an informational Webinar Video to be posted on both platforms on October 18, 2023.
NICIP will operate on a first-come, first-served basis for this competitive grant program. Applications can be submitted between December 1, 2023, and January 12, 2024. Scoring of applications will commence as early as December 2, 2023, and applications meeting the minimum threshold will progress for grant processing by DASNY until all funding has been allocated. In the event that an applicant is unable to proceed with the proposed project, the funds will be returned to the NICIP pool and awarded to the next qualifying applicant.
Building on Commitment to Support Nonprofits
The NICIP initiative is an extension of Governor Hochul’s dedication to safeguarding and fortifying the nonprofit sector, which plays a critical role in delivering essential resources and services across New York. Recent announcements include over $63 million in capital funding awards for numerous colleges and universities to support substantial construction projects, equipment acquisition, and other essential investments in university infrastructure.
Additionally, the Governor has earmarked nearly $38 million to enhance the facility security and preparedness of nonprofits, $13 million for organizations offering career training to New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, and $2.7 million in funding for organizations aiding veterans.
Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program (NICIP)
DASNY serves as the administering body for the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program (NICIP), managing grants awarded through a competitive process. The initial wave of NICIP projects, totaling approximately $120 million, was awarded to recipients in 2017 and 2018. The 2023-2024 Enacted State Budget has authorized $50 million for this new competitive NICIP opportunity.
For more information on NICIP and to access application materials, visit the official website and explore the available resources:
Tania Quigley has been a member of Cerini & Associates’ audit and consulting practice area since 2005 where she focuses on serving the firms nonprofit and employee benefit plan clientele. Tania has experience in performing financial statement audits and reviews, tax return preparation, cost report preparation and filing, retirement plan audits, and other consulting. Tania brings her expertise, diversified background, and helpful approach to all of her engagements.
When Ginni Rometty was appointed CEO of IBM a few years ago, she was tasked with adapting the successful global brand to remain at the forefront of the next decade of computing advances. Overhauling a company as large as IBM was a massive undertaking, but as Rometty herself said, “You can engineer change.” Central to her strategy for doing this was a revamp of the company’s culture.
As she pared away less relevant sectors of the company and started new initiatives, she also thought about what kind of culture would foster the innovation and productivity necessary to secure the company’s future. She came up with a list of key traits and values she felt exemplified IBM’s new direction and distributed them on ID-type cards to every employee in the company. She used these values to guide her own decision-making as well, creating a model for thought and behavior that began at the very top of the organization.
Rometty’s view that “Culture is your company’s number one asset” is one widely shared by top executives at some of the most successful, relevant companies worldwide. CEO’s are coming to see cultivating culture not as an amenity or a secondary concern but as a critical factor in business success or failure and the glue that binds together strategy, innovation, leadership, talent development, customer service and excellence in execution.
The famous management consultant and author Peter Drucker once pointed out that culture is one of the most underappreciated essentials in business: no matter how visionary, brilliant and far-reaching a leader’s strategy might be, it can all come undone if it is not fully supported by a strong and spirited corporate culture.
Strong culture does not happen by accident or overnight. Rather, it is created by a number of practical tools and techniques designed to change the way an organization thinks and acts. Here are some recommendations of steps you can take, as CEO, to build and foster a rich cultural identity that will have impact on your company’s performance:
1. Zero in on your company’s core values
Identify what is already working well and emphasize it. If there is a lot that needs to be changed, keep it simple and sustainable. Pick a few values and practices you’d like to encourage, and focus on them.
2. Lead by example
If you want to encourage greater energy and collaboration in your organization, you will want to consistently exhibit these traits yourself, and get your senior staff on-board as well. People will pay as much attention to what you do as what you say, and as the CEO you have the best platform to demonstrate what you want to see.
Seek out employees who exemplify the characteristics you are looking for, as well, and encourage and reward them. The rest of your workforce will take notice and align themselves with what is clearly expected and rewarded.
3. Reinforce innovation and change
Employees feel empowered when they are encouraged to be creative and when their thoughts and ideas are valued. Create an organization that promotes and rewards entrepreneurship and a degree of risk-taking.
In addition to impacting organizational performance, it will boost employee confidence and feelings of increased value, as well as build loyalty to your company.
4. Hire people who get it
Part of leading the culture of your company is deciding who will best contribute to it. Hiring people who show an understanding of the kind of ethos you are fostering is an important step in reaching your goals.
If your company is small you may be more directly involved in the hiring process. If not, you will want to influence recruitment and on-boarding practices in a way that ensures the selection of the best employees for your company culture.
5. Make an emotional appeal
When laying out cultural goals and practices for employees, keep a balance between the rational, business-oriented reasons (productivity, attendance, etc.) and more emotional arguments that will appeal to people on a personal level. Your ultimate goal may be for better statistics and higher returns, but for your employees, it is more immediate and relevant to understand how corporate culture will affect their quality of life on the job, their identity within the company and their personal relationship to the brand.
Business culture originates with the philosophy and behaviors of the people in charge. As Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft said “Everything I do is a reinforcement or not of what we want to have happen culturally.” As CEO, you are in a prime position not only to direct corporate culture but to personally implement and enforce it through your own actions and leadership style.
Recruitment is the gateway to organizational success. Everyone wins when an employer hires the right candidates to fit their culture and goals. However, the recruitment process is more complex than simply identifying and hiring the best talent.
Talent acquisition is a multi-step process requiring a well-thought-out strategy that addresses both immediate needs and long-term goals. A well-thought-out and structured approach to hiring decreases recruitment costs, reduces turnover, and promotes employee engagement.
This guide explains recruiting basics and identifies key steps for designing an employee recruitment process that propels your organization forward and distinguishes you as a desirable employer. In particular, we’ll cover:
There are many aspects to a robust recruitment effort, but it is critical to understand the fundamentals before you build a strategy best suited to your organization.
In this section, we address some employee recruitment basics.
What is employee recruitment?
Simply put, employee recruitment is the process of identifying your organization’s talent needs, attracting candidates, and selecting the individuals that best satisfy your criteria. But this high-level definition does not fully explain employee recruitment’s importance or impact on an organization’s long-term success.
It is the people that make an organization successful. So, having the right people in the right jobs is critical – from the C-suite to managers to staff positions. Each new hire supports and builds upon your culture and has the potential to take your organization in new and exciting directions.
Hiring must be deliberate and well thought out. Recruiting individuals dedicated to your values and goals will bolster a positive work environment, advance productivity and performance, and increase retention rates.
What are the different approaches to employee recruitment?
There are many paths to sourcing and hiring great candidates. Every organization and hiring manager must assess their needs and determine what methods for recruiting will identify the best candidates with the proper skill set that will also align with their culture and values.
Here are some of the top recruiting methods:
Leverages known talent
Taps into pathways for growth within the organization
Upskills current employees
Demonstrates investment in the existing workforce
Provides for a potential internship program that creates a pipeline for future entry-level positions
Relies on endorsements by current employees
Builds on existing connections to the organization
Engenders trust in the current workforce’s opinions and recommendations
Provides for a potential referral/reward program
Related to employee referrals, but includes former employees, customers, and others with a connection to the organization
Relies on external branding and community reputation
May reveal opinions that help inform the process
Portals and Career Websites
Reaches a high volume of job seekers
Better suited for entry and mid-level than high-level positions
Requires a platform that has a screening process that enhances the quality/fit of candidates, as the number of applicants may overload the ability to screen for qualified candidates
Requires you to be thoughtful with keyword parameters so you don’t exclude quality candidates
Passive Candidate Sourcing
Proactively reaches out to potentially qualified individuals that are not necessarily on the job market
Creates opportunity for more targeted candidate referrals
Actively searches social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, and utilizes professional organizations and associations, corporate events, and other networking opportunities
Creates a pipeline for future hiring
External Recruiter or Professional Search Process
Acknowledges the pool of quality leadership candidates is often limited
Empowers you to search for individuals who possess the specialized skills and experience to be successful in these challenging positions
Connects you with experts specialized in executive searches
Typically, a robust employee recruitment process will take advantage of several channels.
When considering which avenues to pursue, do not underestimate the hidden potential of reaching out to individuals content with their current situation – those not looking for a new job. Career research site Zippia recently reported that “73% of potential candidates are passive job seekers who are currently employed and open to hearing about new job opportunities but also too hesitant to apply.”
Remember that the fundamentals of your recruitment process will remain constant for most positions. Still, some openings may require tweaking your standard operating procedure to focus on particular attributes or credentials.
Who is involved in the recruitment process?
Attracting and hiring the right people to build your team is more than just a Human Resources priority. Successful recruitment that leads to productive, engaged, long-term employees requires input from key stakeholders, including:
Hiring managers who identify the need for a new hire due to a vacancy in an existing position or the creation of a new role. They give vital input into the job’s essential functions and the qualifications a successful candidate must possess. HR should work with hiring managers at all process stages, from devising job descriptions to making offers.
Human Resources managers or Human Resources consultants, who work with hiring managers and other interested parties to create job postings, determine the best avenues for sourcing talent, conduct initial screenings of candidates, schedule interviews, and follow up with candidates. The duties that fall under HR will differ from organization to organization, and how much of the process they own will be determined based on company culture, HR resources and bandwidth, and hiring budgets. Organizations sometimes engage HR consultants specializing in recruitment or talent acquisition to guide the process or assume these functions.
Interviewers, who will work with HR and hiring managers to identify and coordinate what information to elicit from interviews; legal guidelines; who will be asking technical questions, behavioral questions, and questions to assess cultural fit and in alignment with DEIA practices. They will also help to determine how the information is aggregated. Interviewers may include:
Internal or external Recruiters and/or HR Consultants
Employees holding the same or similar roles as the open position
Managers from departments that will have regular interaction with the role
Executive Management, if relevant to filling the position
Executives or decision makers identify finalists and ultimately who will be hired. If the open position is of a high- level, executive management may participate in the interviews and have input or the final say regarding which candidate will be offered the job, and who will extend the offer.
The search process may reveal numerous candidates with the basic skills and knowledge to perform well in your advertised position. Identifying who among them will be the most successful in your organization takes a team effort.
Each stakeholder – from HR to coworkers – brings a unique viewpoint to the recruitment process. When everyone’s perspective is appreciated and factored in, the best candidate will be selected.
How the Employee Recruitment Process Works
Recruiting quality candidates is competitive – everyone wants to hire the best talent. To shine in this area, your organization must create a robust, consistent process that generates compelling job posts, hones in on the most effective ways to share those posts, engages in well-planned interviewing, and commits to acclimating new hires.
While each organization will tailor their employee recruitment process to meet their point of view, here are some general steps that every employer will want to follow.
1. Identify vacancies you need to fill.
A variety of circumstances can trigger the need to make a new hire – some you can plan for, and others may come as a surprise. Here are some common examples:
Terminations for Cause
Reorganizations (e.g., downsizing, merger)
No matter the reason, hiring managers typically want to fill their positions quickly. While speed is a factor, every opportunity to hire a new team member is critical. At this point, leadership and hiring managers, possibly with the expertise of an HR consultant, should take a moment to reflect on organizational and team needs. Whether to hire immediately and make the right hire should satisfy not only immediate demands but tomorrow’s as well.
Through such a lens, initial requests may be modified to upgrade the original position or expand the team to meet the demands of a growing organization. You can continuously evaluate open positions against the organization’s direction to align recruiting efforts with business needs and critical skills gaps.
2. Write thorough job descriptions.
The starting point for any solid hire is a well-written, thorough job description. Comprehensive job descriptions are essential for recruiting and retaining satisfied, long-term employees because they impact almost every aspect of people management.
Job descriptions play a critical role in defining the essential functions of a position. From a compliance standpoint, job descriptions need to specifically define the responsibilities and the functional expertise required for a role and serve as a guide for setting expectations for recruiting and performance management.
Beyond the day-to-day, job descriptions serve a broader purpose by making the connection between individuals and the larger organization. When certain key information is included, job descriptions:
Demonstrate how and where the individual aligns with organizational goals and needs
Are a tool for measuring performance
Outline potential vertical and horizontal pathways for job advancement within the organization
Inform total rewards strategies and salary ranges
The essential elements to include in any job description are:
Essential functions (daily tasks, expectations, and responsibilities)
Nature of the role (full-time, part-time, consultant, or independent contractor)
FLSA status (salaried, hourly, or over-time eligible)
Experience and education requirements
Specific skills or physical requirements
Work location (office, remote, or hybrid)
Any travel requirements
Additionally, all job descriptions should include a concluding statement that the position may not be limited to the duties listed in the job description as unplanned and additional assignments may fall within the position’s responsibilities.
3. Share your job posting.
With job descriptions in place, you have a strong starting point for drafting a job posting. In most instances, your posting will be a candidate’s introduction to your organization, so the content and language used should accurately reflect your organization and brand. You should also showcase the job function and your culture, vision, and organizational accomplishments.
In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, holding a candidate’s interest with shorter, creative posts is important. Use various ways of reaching the widest audience (e.g., traditional written advertisements, videos, blogs, and social media posts).
Strategically select where you will share your job posting. Depending on the nature of the open position, broad-based job boards and recruiting sites may serve your purpose, but when highly-skilled or professionally-credentialed candidates are sought, you may need to refine your search and look toward more focused recruiting resources. This approach is particularly important when embarking on an executive search.
4. Collect and screen job applications and resumes.
Not everyone responding to your job posting will proceed to the interview phase. Each application received must be vetted to ensure that the candidate is qualified for the job, and setting up a well-planned screening process will facilitate sorting resumes and identifying who should be contacted for interviews.
Some best practices for screening resumes and applications include:
Referring back to the job description and post for the best matches
Use an applicant tracking system (i.e., ATS software) or create a chart to record applications and relevant details such as experience and education
Separate applicants into three groups: those contacted for interviews (the Meets-Criteria Group), those held in reserve if the first group does not work out (the Possible Group), and those in whom the organization is not interested (the Declined Group)
Conduct introductory phone calls with the Meets-Criteria group to confirm the information provided on the application and set up initial interviews
When sorting the submissions into groups, it helps to focus on whether each applicant possesses experience that is critical to the job, is job-specific, or is just nice to have.
Even though the number of applicants may seem daunting at times, with a consistent screening process in place, the review will be more manageable, and all applicants will be treated similarly and fairly.
5. Conduct interviews and any needed assessments.
With your shortlist in hand, it is time to conduct interviews. Prepare a schedule that establishes the number of interview rounds that will occur and identifies how many company representatives will participate in each round.
A standard set of questions should be compiled. The conversation should include a mix of open and closed questions. Concentrate on diving deeper into the applicant’s background and interests and what they will bring to your organization. Ensure the topics discussed do not violate local, state, or federal employment laws.
Always allow the interviewee to ask questions. What they are interested in gives you additional insight into their perspective and what they value. Allowing time for their questions also demonstrates that their concerns are significant.
In advanced rounds of interviews, it may be beneficial to ask candidates what expectations or criteria must be met for them to consider accepting an offer (e.g., expected salary, benefits, or work schedule/conditions/location). This information will help you formulate an offer that is more likely to be accepted if you determine that they are the person you want for the job.
Remember that interviews are a two-way street. As you evaluate each candidate, they are also assessing your organization and gauging your work environment. So, it is equally important for the organization to put its best foot forward.
Consistently extend a cordial welcome to candidates at the commencement of every interview, providing virtual tours when remote (ensuring a balance between security and proprietary information), and facilitating introductions to staff members across various tiers. This approach enables them to grasp your organizational ambiance, leadership approach, and day-to-day functioning, regardless of whether the interaction occurs in person or remotely.
The interview phase is also the appropriate time to administer any necessary skill assessments and request work samples but confirm that any testing complies with applicable employment laws.
6. Check references.
Once you have narrowed your list to a few finalists (typically two or three), you will want to elicit feedback from outside the organization. Reference checks will provide context and deeper insight into the candidate’s suitability for the role.
Ask candidates to identify at least three references and specify the most relevant reference type. Gather the reference’s contact information and utilize the reference’s preferred mode of communication to increase the chance that they will promptly and amicably respond.
Develop questions for these interactions before reaching out. Confirm the candidate’s experience and background. Also include questions grounded in any concerns raised by the interview team or any follow-up items they would like to know more about.
Start the conversation by gaining an understanding of this person’s relationship with the candidate. Describe the position for which the candidate is being considered and request the interviewee’s opinion on how the candidate will perform. Ask open-ended but pointed questions. Attentively listen to responses to glean the most information.
Keep in mind that many organizations do not allow employees to provide references. They may require all inquiries to be directed to HR, where only proof of employment will be provided. In these situations, you may request additional references or contact professional contacts who have interacted with your preferred candidate.
7. Decide who you’re going to hire.
Now you are ready to select one candidate and make an offer. Each organization must decide who will be making the hiring decision. In some organizations, it is the hiring manager; in others, a team – typically comprised of the hiring manager, the hiring manager’s supervisor, HR, and other interested parties – will reach a consensus.
Regardless of approach, the decision maker(s) should compare and contrast candidate strengths and weaknesses, assess each applicant’s potential for success in the role and as part of the organization’s future, and rank the candidates according to their preferences. Ranking will allow the organization to pivot to an alternative candidate if the front-runner declines.
If a team approach is taken, all team members need to listen to each other and allow for expressing and hearing all viewpoints. Be sure to listen for and avoid biases. The decision makers must agree so the new hire has the best chance of fully integrating into the organization and succeeding.
8. Extend job offers.
Now it is time to invite the selected individual to join your team. It is best practice to make a verbal offer in person or over the phone. Detailed information about the offer will be provided in a follow-up email or formal letter.
After extending an offer, the potential new hire may have questions and want to negotiate salary or benefits (e.g., additional time off or tuition reimbursement). If your organization cannot meet a particular request, consider extending alternative perqs that fit into your total rewards program and might convince the candidate to accept.
9. Begin the onboarding process.
Now that you have finalized all the details with your new employee, recruitment transitions to onboarding. Onboarding is the process of introducing the new employee to their role and the overall organization. For long-term retention, employees need to start on the right foot.
According to Apollo Technical, 33% of employees quit after the first six months. An official onboarding process can set the tone for the entire employee experience, alleviating much of the anxiety and confusion new employees feel when joining an organization.
Onboarding begins immediately upon acceptance of the offer. A new hire’s assimilation starts with frequent and informative communication about their start date, what to expect when on the first day, contact information for any questions, and sharing forms that need to be completed.
Effective onboarding procedures extend beyond a one-time orientation, often lasting months into a new hire’s introductory period. Each onboarding experience will be slightly different based on the position, the needs of the individual, and how individuals learn best.
Key features of successful onboarding include frequent and meaningful communication with the new employee, scheduled on-site or self-paced training, introductory meetings with players central to the new hire’s success (e.g., co-workers, clients, various levels of management, etc.), a mentor or buddy system, and feedback mechanisms to identify additional integration needs and ways to improve the onboarding process.
4 Best Practices for a Strong Recruitment Process
Because every employer is unique, recruitment philosophies and procedures will be customized to fit their environment. Still, despite these innate differences, every organization should incorporate the following best practices to build a strong foundation for their employee recruitment efforts.
1. Strengthen and communicate your employer brand.
Today’s employees want to work for organizations that align with their values and have a reputation for contributing to the community and the greater good. The impression potential employees have of your organization often stems from the brand you present in the marketplace. Still, you must go beyond that and communicate an employee value proposition (EVP) that encourages job seekers to want to be associated with your organization.
2. Look for candidates who identify with your organizational values.
Incorporating your values and standards into your job postings will attract individuals who identify with your organization’s perspective. Such applicants are more likely to mesh with your culture, making for a smoother onboarding process and increasing the likelihood of long-term employment.
3. Expand your sourcing channels to reach a diverse pool of candidates.
Rethink where you advertise for candidates, especially if your DEI priorities include diversifying your workforce. Ensure that you are promoting your positions on channels utilized by your target audiences and the strategy is broad enough to include professional organizations, job boards, and social media platforms that are new to your organization.
4. Work with an HR consultant.
Establishing and deploying effective employee recruitment strategies is time-consuming and overwhelming, depending on available internal resources. HR consultants with expertise in recruitment strategies and talent sourcing can ease this burden, primarily when focusing on executive leadership.
RealHR’s experts assist clients in meeting their recruitment challenges wherever they are in the process. We can be as involved as needed – taking the lead or providing support to find the best talent. We work with our clients to create a consulting arrangement that meets their needs and takes into account their available resources.
You need to hire the right people to build a successful business and a supportive work environment. With stiff competition for the best talent, a plan is critical. Winning organizations understand the value of comprehensive employee recruitment strategies that reflect the times and marketplace, address the recruiting needs today, and help prepare for the future.
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As discussed in Part I, What, Why, When, and How to Conduct a Pay Equity Audit, Pay Equity Audits are garnering increased attention by many organizations in order to look at pay through the lens of equity and fairness in the workplace. Here, Susan Kreeger, RealHR’s founder, and CEO, and Jennifer Loftus, Founding Partner and National Director of Astron Solutions, a total rewards and talent management consulting firm, follow up that conversation with a discussion on how best to understand and implement audit results.
While a Pay Equity Audit may be a one-time event, addressing the results and implementation are long-term with the goal of making systemic change. When looking at pay, it is the end-product of so many other HR activities—hiring practices; establishing pay grades and ranges; managing the performance review process; rewarding certain roles more highly than others; recognizing turnover and retention. Implementing pay-related changes in an organization will inherently reach deep into the organization, requiring careful consideration of who is involved in the process, how to make meaningful changes, and when and what to communicate to employees.
When should an organization communicate to employees that it is conducting a Pay Equity Audit?
Let’s look at two situations for responding to this question. If there are no specific underlying issues for conducting the audit, an organization might do the audit work first and then communicate results to employees. If the audit is a result of general or specific complaints of unfairness in the workplace, the organization’s leadership might want to demonstrate to staff that they hear the concerns and are going to look at pay equity within the organization. Culture will also influence the decision about when to communicate information—some cultures are very transparent and will share the information upfront.
How do you present your results to the client?
It is critical to have legal counsel involved with the process from the start so that you can have open and honest conversations that are protected by the attorney-client privilege. Counsel should be involved in presentations and conversations throughout the process.
Typically, the results of the audit are presented to leadership including the head of HR, the CEO, and legal counsel. In the report, Astron will address the methodology; overall findings highlighting what looks good and red flag issues to address immediately; recommendations for action; and supporting appendices with statistical information.
How transparent should an organization be about the results of the audit to its staff?
Three things come to mind—culture, legal advice, and what are the findings. If the results are very individual, the results typically stay private. If the results are organization-wide, let people know about the general results and what the organization plans to do. Look at Pay Equity Audit results broadly along with other DEI initiatives. While we might believe that in an ideal world results could be transparent with employees and external clients, reality says defer to legal counsel on this topic. When the results are more positive, organizations are more inclined to share the information.
If the results are negative, it’s okay to admit that you haven’t lived up to your standards or that the standards have changed. The goal is that the organization is correcting, making positive changes. This can give everyone comfort—employees want to work there and people want to do business with you. With systemic problems, be truthful but careful.
Can you walk us through the process if you find that remediation is required?
An organization might start with consideration of the volume of change–are there a handful of changes or is it more systemic? Also, how to manage the financial impact of making changes.
Some adjustments might be made immediately to correct serious inequities. Other adjustments can be mapped out over time. You can bring a salary or salaries to equity over three or six months. Also, consider having someone in management speak directly to the employee or employees impacted. Typically, the discussion would be with HR and possibly their manager as well.
How might an organization handle remediation if its budget does not allow for salary increases?
Here are a few ideas:
Freeze or slow down higher-level pay
Consider giving bonuses or variable pay—that might buy you a year or so
Look at where else to cut the budget
An interesting consideration for non-profits is to bring in your Development Department for donations. As an example, Astron recently conducted a review of pay ranges for an organization where the results raised budget issues. The Management Team knew that raising money for this would resonate with their donors and funders by making a direct appeal.
How significant is the prevalence of social media and widespread sharing of information to the decisions around transparency?
Social media can be a friend or foe. There are probably more concerns about Glassdoor reviews where people go to find salary information, not as much on Facebook or Twitter. Take what people say with a “grain of salt.” There is not much an organization can do to control what is said. There are first amendment and freedom of speech rights for an individual. Look at how to manage what is said. That said, you can’t ignore what is said on social media. Listen to general themes. Is there some truth to what is being said? Is there a call to action that you need to pay attention to? You might consider bringing in your marketing or communications functions if there are social media concerns.
In some situations, employees decide on their own to reveal their salary information. This can happen on social media. But this more often happens around the “proverbial water cooler,” other communication modes in today’s world. Often, individual salary information is understood out of context—someone needs to consider performance, education, and skill level, among other factors, when assessing salary. It’s important that an organization is clear and transparent with its employees about its overall compensation philosophy.
What are the ways that a pay equity audit supports DEI in an organization?
There are three major areas to consider:
It’s critical for an organization to address inequities and imbalances in pay. Correcting this must support the commitment to DEI. So much of someone’s sense of themself and self-worth is tied up in how fairly they are paid.
Statistical problems reveal a lack of diversity. If you keep coming back with the problem that there are not enough people in a protected class for an accurate statistical analysis, your real issue is probably with hiring or retention.
Correcting imbalances to address HR practices. Making sure that programs live up to the expectations of equity for all. Pay Equity Audits allow an organization to show that it is “not just talking the talk but walking the walk.” If an organization believes in something, it will find the money to show a true commitment.
What are some final thoughts?
We have just scratched the surface. There is so much to be discovered and unearthed with a Pay Equity Audit. Some of the findings may be what we suspected, and some may be surprising. We are committing to this for the long-term, for the good of our employees, our organizations, and for the larger society as well.
In the unfolding chapters of the digital era, artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t just a fleeting trend—it’s becoming the backbone of many of our daily technological interactions. From smartphone voice assistants to advanced, predictive analytics, AI’s touch is everywhere.
At the heart of these technological waves stands tech behemoth Microsoft, ready to redefine our interactions with its newest revelation: CoPilot. But while this integration with Windows 11 offers unparalleled possibilities, there are intricate nuances and concerns nonprofits should be finely attuned to.
Microsoft CoPilot: The Everyday AI Companion
Before we venture further, let’s decode Microsoft’s CoPilot. As highlighted in their recent announcement, CoPilot is built with the intention to aid, guide, and eventually revolutionize the user’s digital journey.
The largest difference here between Microsoft CoPilot and other AI tools we’ve seen up to now is their integration with Windows 11, making it more widely available and easily accessible to users.
How exactly this tool will revolutionize the way we use AI is still yet to be seen, but this first foray into Operating Systems working in conjunction with AI is an exciting prospect.
Artificial Intelligence for the nonprofit world opens doors that perhaps we’ve only dreamed of. Consider an AI that doesn’t just assist but anticipates needs, offering profound insights into donor behavior, suggesting optimized routes for campaigns, and even assisting in mundane day-to-day tasks.
The Bounty of Benefits for Nonprofit Professionals
The advantages of AI integration into the nonprofit framework can be transformational. Let’s delve deeper into these potential game-changers:
Streamlined Operations: Nonprofits often juggle a myriad of tasks—organizing community events, managing volunteers, crafting outreach programs, and the list goes on. With AI, these could be seamlessly streamlined. Imagine an AI offering optimized templates for your next newsletter or suggesting the best time slots for community events based on historical data.
Unveiling Data’s Hidden Stories: Beyond mere data analytics lies the realm of data insights. Every donor interaction, every funding pattern, every campaign result is a story waiting to be told.
Empowering Through Automation: While automation might seem impersonal, especially in the mission-driven world of nonprofits, there’s no denying its efficacy. Routine tasks, especially those administrative in nature, can be handed over to AI. This not only ensures precision but also liberates human resources to focus on areas that truly need the human touch.
The Integration of AI in Operating Systems:
Navigating the Labyrinth of Risks
Innovation, while a driving force for progress, often comes with its set of challenges. Integrating AI at the very core of operating systems is a monumental shift, one that opens up channels, pipelines, and a vast expanse of data accessibility.
The most palpable concern echoing in many corridors is that of Data Disclosure. With an AI’s inherent capacity to sift through, analyze, and process immense data pools, the risk of sensitive data—be it donor information, financial details, or organizational strategies—being inadvertently accessed or disclosed becomes very real.
But the landscape of concerns isn’t just limited to data. AIs, while revolutionary, can sometimes perpetuate existing biases, leading to decision-making that might not align with a nonprofit’s ethos or values. And as we allow AI to take over more functions, there’s always the undercurrent of unforeseen ramifications—results or actions triggered by AI that might not have been anticipated.
Crafting a Robust AI Policy: The Nonnegotiable
These challenges underscore an undeniable truth: embracing AI isn’t merely about technological integration. It’s about weaving a fabric of responsibility, foresight, and ethics into this digital tapestry. Nonprofits, in their commitment to their mission and their stakeholders, must be the torchbearers of this responsible integration.
A well-constructed AI policy is the cornerstone. Such a policy would not be a rigid framework but a dynamic, evolving guide—encompassing governance protocols, setting ethical boundaries, and offering clear operational directives for AI deployment.
So what next?
It’s evident that the world of AI, especially with tools as powerful as CoPilot, offers a new frontier for nonprofits. But as we stand on this threshold, it’s crucial to be equipped—not just with tools, but with knowledge and strategy.
We urge nonprofits to embrace this era, but with eyes wide open. Speak with us and let’s collaboratively craft an AI policy that ensures your nonprofit’s journey into the AI realm is secure, ethical, and truly transformative.
In the grand tapestry of technological evolution, Microsoft’s CoPilot might just be a thread, but it’s a thread that could change the pattern. It heralds promises, offers new vistas, but also comes with its set of challenges. For nonprofits, it’s time to not just watch the dawn but to step into it, armed with strategy, foresight, and a commitment to their mission. As we navigate this new era, let’s ensure that every step we take is both innovative and informed.