Four critical things to do with your next executive director search

In the last four months we have been honored to work with some of the most revered nonprofit organizations in the Ann Arbor area to help them find their next leader. Here are some tips that we wanted to pass along in case you know of a nonprofit that will be looking for a new leader in 2023.

  1. Create a job posting that sells the position

It is important to have an internally focused “job description” that covers the full gamut of day to day work, including the customary phrase, “And other duties as assigned.” However, when it comes to attracting great candidates, make sure that your job posting tells the story and passion of your organization: Candidates looking at nonprofit opportunities are motivated by more than money or benefits. Effective job postings need to highlight your mission in the most engaging way.

  1. Know your salary range and know if it’s competitive

Salary transparency is required by more and more job sites. Be prepared to disclose pay information up front. Also, if you are unsure where the market is for your job, consider doing a paid compensation survey. Salary negotiations can be frustrating - being armed with salary data in advance can help you avoid the drama.

  1. Candidate outreach

The best candidates are often only passively looking for new opportunities. Use your search committee’s network and industry websites to effectively help spread the word via word of mouth and social media platforms. Reaching out to people via LinkedIn Recruiter and other specialty sites is often the most effective way to bring in the largest candidate pool.

  1. Finding the right fit

Resumes don’t always tell the whole story. In fact, for many of the positions that we have helped fill recently, the perfect person did not have direct experience in the nonprofit sector, but had many transferable skills and was passionate about the mission. Thus, be sure to cast the net wide, and have a thorough process to assess and validate skills. Consider requiring either a cover letter or asking promising applicants to complete a short written questionnaire. We have also found that including video interviews of the candidates for the search committee to review can be really helpful at understanding communication and leadership skills - which are so important when hiring an executive director at a mission driven organization.


We hope that these tips will help you with your next nonprofit executive director search. Let us know how we can help! Schedule an appointment with our HR expert, or call us at (734) 747-2936 to determine if this is the right fit for you!


About The Author: Amy Cell

Amy Cell is a renowned and passionate pioneer in HR and Talent initiatives. She also leads an innovative consulting firm that specializes in recruiting and HR services for startups, small businesses, and municipalities.

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