Hiring the right executive director is perhaps the most important decision that a nonprofit Board can make. The search process behind this decision can be long and unruly; or it can be thorough and productive. By breaking down the process into tasks and conducting them with integrity, search time can be spent wisely and good decisions can be made. Here are some tips to keep in mind to find the right candidate for your position:
Organize the Search
- Determine who “owns the process” — often a Board-appointed committee, sometimes including non-Board experts.
- Determine who will do the work — the search committee or an external executive search firm.
- Define the committee’s authority — how and when should the full Board be involved.
Research and Candidate Development
- Develop the position specification – reflecting required experience, competencies, personal attributes, significant issues to be addressed and compensation range.
- Identify potential candidates – through multiple means (research, networking, advertising).
- Develop a “long list” of preliminary candidates – who satisfy appropriateness criteria and are available and interested.
- Comparatively evaluate the “long list” – using a matrix of relevant criteria including skills, experience, and personal characteristics.
- Prioritize and identify a “short list” of candidates best suited to the position.
Interview and Decision Making
- Conduct in-depth interviews with short list.
- Identify the preferred candidate and a strong back up. Check references – including peers, subordinates and superiors.
- Negotiate compensation.
- Gain Board approval and make the final offer.
It is a critical Board responsibility to hire, support and evaluate the Executive Director. Don’t rush the process. Organize to search thoughtfully; develop a thorough list of qualified candidates; and invest time in selecting the right candidate for your organization. Tomorrow’s success depends on the leadership decisions of today.
Additionally, NESC’s Executive Search Division has successfully placed dozens of President/COO,CEO, CFO, Executive Director and Board Chairmen for nonprofits throughout the country. To meet with our Executive Search division, click on the box below.
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