My Mom has given me some great advice over the years.
- Choose your own star. Mom always encouraged me to live my own dreams, and she never tried to pigeonhole me or push me to become something I wasn’t. (In retrospect, this is probably why she let me major in art in college! Gasp!)
- Follow the Golden Rule. Mom told me to treat others how I would want to be treated. It’s age-old advice that she assured me would pay off over the long-haul.
- Life does not stop and start at your convenience. Wait, that wasn’t Mom. That was Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski. Still, it’s great advice.
Anyway, let’s get back to the the Golden Rule. It occurs to me that some nonprofits don’t employ the Golden Rule during the hiring process. Specifically, they fail to treat candidates in a professional and kind manner. Ironically, this behavior hurts the organization more than it does the candidates.
Here are some classic examples of nonprofits failing to follow the Golden Rule during the hiring process:
- Letting Searches Turn into Sagas
We’ve all heard about (or been a part of) a search like this. A search that could have been wrapped up in weeks somehow turns into a months-long saga. Any momentum that existed in the early stages of the search fades away, and the hiring organization and candidates have lost their enthusiasm by the time things finally wrap up.These types of searches, of course, are incredibly frustrating for the candidates involved. At some point during the search, candidates come to believe the organization isn’t serious about filling the role, doesn’t really know what it wants, or is too disorganized to make a decision. Candidates usually walk away thinking the organization didn’t respect their time. And they often share this frustration with friends in the liberty movement.
Ironically, I doubt these organizations would be pleased if candidates treated them in the same way. Picture it: an organization invites a candidate for an interview and the candidate takes three weeks to respond. I imagine the candidate would be gone faster than a Pabst Blue Ribbon at a NASCAR race.
And while the process is less than ideal for candidates, consider how much it hurts the nonprofit. Searches that drag on for months and months are not only highly inefficient, but they waste staff time, allow the best candidates to slip away, and create a negative buzz about the organization.
Of course, there are times when an organization must prolong a search for good reason. If that’s the case, the organization should communicate with candidates about the updated timeline or cancel the search altogether.
- Failing to Communicate Adequately
On a related note, some nonprofits fail to keep candidates informed throughout the process. They say they will be in touch about next steps within a week, but several weeks pass and the candidate hears only crickets. They indicate a decision will be made by a certain day, but the deadline comes and goes without a peep. Or the process moves in fits and starts with no word about what in the dickens is going on.Case in point: we recently had a highly qualified candidate drop out of the running for a senior level role because the organization had done such a poor job of communicating during the search process. The candidate surmised that if the hiring process was dysfunctional, the rest of the organization likely was too. She didn’t tell the hiring manager why she dropped out (understandably so); but for his sake, I hope he put two and two together.
And what if we turned the tables here and the candidate were to fail to communicate adequately during the interview process? Say, the candidate isn’t responsive to requests for additional information, references, or salary requirements. Or, imagine if the organization makes an offer and the candidate falls off the grid for days on end. No doubt the organization would drop the candidate like a faulty transmission.
- Neglecting to Close the Loop with Candidates
Whether good or bad, candidates just want to hear news about where they stand. This is one reason we implore our clients to let us know about each and every candidate we send them; we want to be able to give our candidates timely answers, even if they are not the answers for which they had hoped.When we deliver such news, this is the type of reaction we often get from job applicants: “I really appreciate your letting me know, even though it wasn’t what I had hoped to hear. I usually don’t hear back about the jobs for which I apply.”
And again, let’s envision candidates failing to close the loop with organizations. What if an organization were to call a candidate to make an offer, only to have the candidate say, “Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t follow-up with you, but I accepted another offer weeks ago.”
There’s really no excuse for not following-up with candidates. It takes just a few minutes and will build a lot of goodwill. Remember: candidates who never hear back feel disrespected and are more than happy to tell friends and associates as much.
My suspicion is that many nonprofits who fail to follow the Golden Rule during the hiring process have no idea how much damage they are doing to their reputations, let alone how negatively they are impacting the search itself.
One candidate recently told me this behavior drove him away from the liberty movement: “It is this ‘flaky’ aspect of non-profits, both the slow pace and often difficult to understand logic of their decision making, that led me to leave the sector…”
If we truly care about advancing liberty, we need to care about the people who want to work with us to effect change. And following Mom’s advice about the Golden Rule is a good start.