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How To Land Top Talent in a Competitive Market

Is your organization hiring? We're guessing you have at least one vacant position on your team. How do we know? Well, one look at the DRG Gigs board will tell you that there's an exceptional need for fundraising professionals at every level. Our team is made up of hiring managers, and as consultants we've helped numerous organizations in the talent search process. We know what it takes to find and land amazing talent—and this week, we're sharing our secrets with you.

On finding and landing quality candidates right now:

Right now the market is HOT. That means as a hiring manager, you cannot take your time and allow applications to accrue or let candidates languish while you review applications, over-analyze interview panels and schedules, collect feedback, and route through bureaucratic approval processes. Candidates aren't waiting. They have plenty of options and your lack of nimble and timely response only deters them. You must have your ducks in a line when you start the process, recruit hard and fast, and be prepared to make decisions quickly and decisively in order to get your top candidates.

Because the market is strong, candidates are able to ask and typically get the high end of the salary range. Be sure to set your ranges realistically and competitively based on clear benchmarking measures. Be very clear with your candidates at the beginning at the process what the salary will be - during the initial phone screening - so that if salary is an issue, you can address it before you get too far down the line. Nothing is worse than losing your top candidate at the end of the road because of salary surprises.

Be prepared to network and network hard in this current environment. Candidates aren't running to us - we have to go out and curate them. Sometimes we may even have to poach them. It's competitive right now as turnover is high and people are more open to leaving the comfort of their jobs than ever before. You may get an onslaught of applications, but that doesn't mean they are the types of candidates you are looking for. Don't be afraid to go out there and promote the heck out of your position(s) and be prepared for out of the box recruiting - the post-pandemic workplace is a new and evolving challenge.

Don't be afraid to embrace a new approach to filling positions—we call it the wildcard method. Years ago, this study demonstrated that female applicants usually don't take the leap to apply unless they are 100% qualified for a job. And we thought, what if we are doing the same with candidates? Only interviewing them if they check all the boxes? Since then in the first round of every search we're a part of, we try to bring through one or two wildcard candidates. People who meet 40-60% of the qualifications but have a great cover letter, interesting experience, or seem like they can bring a spark to the interviewing table! And guess what? It's working. We recently conducted in a series of interviews for a client and the wildcard candidate came out above the rest. Try it!

On infusing DEI into the hiring process:

A lot of our organizations have reaffirmed a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion -- but how well are we living up to that standard through recruitment and hiring practices? Truly living these values means that we are advertising open positions in ways that invite historically excluded populations to apply, from the language we use to the places we post. And a commitment to equity means we're transparent about the salary range from the start -- put it in the job posting!

Show that the commitment is real by writing DEI expectations into job descriptions and discussing these topics in interviews. Candidates want to know that organizations can "walk the walk" when it comes to inclusivity.

Beware of unconscious bias in screening and hiring processes. Challenge yourself and your colleagues. How are we creating opportunity for those whose experience with power, privilege, and oppression is different from our own? Consult with HR on ways you can identify and reduce/eliminate bias (and if you don't have an HR function, a quick Google search will help point you in the right direction). Look around your organization and ask how welcoming it truly is to difference. Because our commitment to DEI is only as strong as our ability to accept and support the success of team members once they're on board -- otherwise, it's a false promise and an exercise in tokenism.


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