HR Toolkit

Getting the Right People


Once you have established the vacancy and defined the position you can begin recruitment. In this step you identify how you will select candidates and attract them to your organization.

Related HR Management Standard:

Standard 2.2

Recruitment is through an objective, consistent process.

Develop selection criteria for the position

Now, you are ready to develop the criteria that will be used to screen resumes and select the best person for the job. These should come from the job description for the position and must be measurable within the selection process. Having clear and measurable selection criteria will help to avoid bias so that interviewers are able to objectively evaluate a candidate’s suitability for the job.

Consider the following:

  • What knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience are essential for a new employee to be able to perform the duties of the position?
  • What attributes must the new employee have to ensure he/she fits the culture of your organization?
  • Do any of your criteria exclude certain groups as prohibited under human rights legislation?
  • Are the criteria specific, measurable and job-related?


Care must be taken to ensure criteria are in compliance with human rights legislation.

Choosing your methods of recruitment

Recruiting for skilled positions is becoming increasingly competitive, meaning organizations need to be increasingly creative in how they go about attracting the right.
Assess where you are most likely to find your ideal candidate

  • Will they be recent graduates from colleges or universities?
  • Will they come from other nonprofit organizations?
  • Are they within your volunteer base?

Be innovative and prepared to consider several different methods in order to attract the best person for the job

  • How likely is it that your chosen methods will reach your target candidates?

Recruit efficiently

  • What are the timeframes to fill the positions?
  • What size candidate pool will you need?
  • For a general, unspecialized position you have a higher probability of finding a suitable candidate within a smaller pool so you will want to recruit in a ways that keeps the number of applications reasonable
  • For a very senior or highly skilled position you will likely need to reach out to the widest possible pool in order to get the best candidate


Good Practice

A good recruitment plan includes a mix of recruitment strategies and a variety of communication processes to inform other organizations and relevant communities of the available position.

Internal recruitment

Internal recruitment gives existing employees and volunteers the opportunity to apply for the job opening. It is linked to succession planning and career development. Internal recruitment can include promotions to a higher level position, and also lateral moves to a same level position. To keep the process positive is very important to be fair and consistent in how you go about recruiting internally.
Potential benefits of this approach

  • Management already has a good idea of the employee’s capabilities
  • Rewards the employee/volunteer for past performance
  • Gives the employee/volunteer an opportunity for career development
  • Retains the organization's investment in the employee/volunteer
  • Reduces the amount of time necessary to orient the person to the new position
  • Reduces the time and costs of recruitment
  • Supports positive morale and retention by signaling the possibility of internal progression

Potential drawbacks of this approach

  • If used in isolation, provides a limited number of people to select from
  • Reduces the opportunity for increasing diversity within your organization
  • Employees that apply for the position and are not selected may be disgruntled

Employee referrals

Recruitment through referrals encourages employees to recommend potential candidates from their network. To ensure employees are willing to recommend their contacts for positions at your organization it is important to treat all referrals with respect and follow-up in a timely manner.

Potential benefits of this approach

  • The quality of employee referrals is usually high because employees usually only refer people that they are confident would be a good match for the position and organization
  • The position is more likely to reach qualified candidates that aren’t actively looking
  • People recruited by employees usually have some understanding of the work of the organization
  • Reduces the time and costs of recruitment

Potential drawbacks of this approach

  • There can be a tendency to feel that you must hire someone who is referred by an employee even if your assessment is that the person is not the best match
  • People tend to recommend others with similar backgrounds - relying solely on employee referrals may not provide a wide enough scope of prospective candidates and you may end up hiring more of the same type of employees with similar backgrounds and experiences rather than diversifying your workforce

Print advertisements

Print advertisements may appear in national or local newspapers, bulletins, professional journals, or magazines.

Potential benefits of this approach

  • You can reach a large audience in a specific geographic area
  • You can reach a large audience with specialized skills

Potential drawbacks of this approach

  • If the ad is general you may receive a significant number of applications from unqualified candidates
  • There is a wide range of costs – some can be expensive
  • Professional publications may not be published frequently which can lead to increased recruiting timeframes


Remember to target diverse networks and community agencies in order to develop a diverse workforce. See Diversity at Work for more information.

Internet recruiting

The opportunity may be posted on an internet job board, on your own website or on professional association websites. One study has shown that 96% of people looking for jobs use the internet

Potential benefits of this approach

  • Internet recruiting is cost effective – some sites offer free postings
  • Internet job postings are available to potential candidates 24 hours a day
  • You can minimize the number of unqualified candidates by directing people to more information on your organization's website
  • Greater flexibility to post, amend and remove the ad at your convenience

Potential drawbacks of this approach

  • The number of applications may be overwhelming
  •  Postings that only appear on your organization’s website will likely not reach a large enough number of candidates

Internships/field placements/co-op placements

You may connect with a university or college’s career centre to post positions and receive resumes of students and new graduates looking for work.
Potential benefits of this approach

  • Cost effective solution for short term hiring needs
  • Provides an opportunity for students or new graduates to gain work experience and experience what it is like to work for your organization
  • Continuous fresh perspective and new ideas if hiring a student every four months
  • Opportunity to evaluate a future employee
  • University and college career centres help to make the recruitment process efficient and less time consuming
  • Opportunity for your organization to develop a positive reputation among students if the co-op views their experience as positive
  • Reduced orientation times for returning co-ops

Potential drawbacks of this approach

  • The time it takes to get up to speed in a new job may outweigh the benefits of a short term placement
  • Lack of continuity and potential loss of information as co-ops move on after 4 months
  • May require greater supervision as they are new to the workforce

Recruitment agencies /Executive search firms

These private companies will find and screen potential candidates for a fee, typically a percentage of the annual salary. It is important when using these services that you take the time to clearly define the position and your expectations of the services to be provided by the agency.

Potential benefits of this approach

  • Reduce time as the firm will do most of the preparation for the posting and the preliminary screening
  • Can reach a broad range of candidates including full-time and temporary job seekers
  • Enables you to tap into the knowledge, experience and contacts of an expert
  • Helpful if is important that the recruitment is kept confidential
  • May be an appropriate recruitment method for the most senior positions

 Potential drawbacks of this approach

  • This is a very expensive method of recruitment
  • A professional recruiter will not have a full understanding of your organization
  • The recruiter may be more interested in placing a candidate than finding you the right person for the job
  • You will still need to invest time in defining the position and making the final selection of candidates

Unsolicited resumes

Individuals interested in working for your organization send in resumes to be considered when a suitable opportunity arises. How you treat unsolicited resumes may have an impact on the image of your organization - respond with courteous and frank information about whether or not the application will be kept for future reference and if you do have a position available, give them the same consideration you would other candidates.

Potential benefits of this approach

  • Having a pool of qualified candidates available can help to reduce time to hire when suitable positions become available

Potential drawbacks of this approach

  • The percentage of resumes with skills appropriate for your organization may be small

Career Fairs and Outreach Programs

Career fairs provide an opportunity to connect informally with interested candidates, often in a particular industry. Outreach programs may be geared towards underrepresented groups or people looking to re-enter the workforce.

Potential benefits of this approach

  • May be a source of readily available, skilled and motivated candidates
  • Can increase the diversity of your organization
  • Can help you connect with a much broader audience than your existing network
  • Can help to increase the visibility of your organization and the non-profit sector, more generally, as a potential employer

Potential drawbacks of this approach

  • If focused too heavily on one particular group or source you may decrease diversity

Networking and Liaison

This can involve reaching out to your existing network for recommendations or reaching out to other nonprofits. This could also involve efforts to build or increase your current networks in the hopes of connecting with new potential employees.

Potential benefits of this approach

  • Those candidates reached through an existing network may have some prior knowledge of the organization or the sector
  • May be possible to work with another nonprofit to create a cost-effective secondment or shared resource
  • Efforts to increase your network can have many organizational benefits beyond your current recruitment needs, such as volunteer recruitment, increased awareness and visibility in the community, etc.

Potential drawbacks of this approach

  • Relying solely on this method might decrease the diversity of your organization



Develop the Job Posting

You can think of the job posting as an advertisement. You want to attract the right type of person to your organization and provide an accurate and honest view of the position. The job posting peaks someone’s interest in the role, while at the same time encourages them to self-assess whether they have the required qualifications and are the right fit for the position.

Attracting Candidates

When thinking about features of the job or your organization that will attract candidates it is useful to consider the following:

  • People are often attracted to nonprofits for meaningful work. How does this position offer that? What contribution does this position make to the organization and society?
  • What is the career path for this position? What opportunities are there for someone to grow and develop new skills?
  • What is the culture of your work place like? Is there a fun atmosphere? An opportunity to work with experts? Flexible work? Social events? In answering this, it may be useful to ask current employees what they most enjoy about working for your organization.

While you want to paint an attractive picture of your organization and the position, overselling the position can lead to problems including candidates not accepting an offer, or worse, leaving after only a few months in the position. Be sure to be realistic in your description.

Developing the job posting

There are three key sections to a job posting:

  • Information about the organization

This is a key part of attracting the candidate to the position and is where you help the candidate understand the mission of your organization, the culture, and what it’s like to work there. It should include:

  • A brief description of the organization.
  • Why your organization is a good place to work.
  • What it’s like to work there (e.g., casual, flexible, team environment, etc.)
  • Opportunities for development and career progression
  • Information about the role

Here you want to give a sense of what the role entails and provide enough information about the minimum qualifications for the position to allow readers to self-assess whether they meet the position requirements and minimize the number of unsuitable applications.

  • Job title
  • Purpose of the position
  • High level overview of responsibilities
  • Identify whether they will be part of a team, leading a team or working independently
  • Work location and travel requirements (if any)
  • The reporting arrangements
  • Requirements including experience, qualifications, skills and personal attributes
  • The salary and benefits associated with the position (may say the salary is dependent on experience)
  • Information about the application process

This section advises candidates:

  • Where to get more information (typically your website)
  • How they can make their application (e.g., by email, by mail, online application) and the necessary contact details
  • Whether the selected candidate will need to meet any special requirements, for example, language testing or criminal records check
  • The application deadline
  • To avoid excessive enquiries it’s useful to advise that while all applications are appreciated, only those candidates selected for interview will be contacted

The format and wording of the advert should be consistent with your organization’s style and brand. Include your logo.

Internet Job Postings

Most candidates will search for positions electronically through your website, or online job boards. Ensuring your job posting considers the following can strengthen the candidate response:

  • Pay careful attention to the job title: The job title is often the first thing a job seeker will see and in many cases, the only thing unless they are interested enough to click through for further information. Use familiar job titles and ensure they give a sense of what the job entails (e.g., “Manager of Financial Services” instead of just “Manager”)
  • Use key words: Job boards and candidates will use key words to pull your position up in a search, so describe the position using words and phrases commonly associated with this type of role
  • Write for the web: When viewing job postings online readers typically scan rather than review each word. Make the most important points stand out by highlighting, using headings for each section (e.g., About the Organization, About the Job, How to Apply), and using bulleted lists

In order to attract a diverse pool of candidates, it is important to develop a job posting that does not create barriers or deter potential applicants. It is helpful to separate essential and non-essential qualifications, to focus on what needs to be achieved (as opposed to how it will be achieved) and to use plain language rather that sector-specific or HR jargon.

Next Section: Selection & Hiring