Tapping into the Talents of Early and Late Career Employees

This dual-stream project seeks to improve the nonprofit sector’s understanding of the characteristics and motivating factors of both “early career” and “late career” employees.

Early Career Employees
Late Career Employees

Early Career Employees

The purpose of the project is to improve the nonprofit sector’s understanding of how to attract early career employees, particularly recent university graduates. The project reflects concerns about the aging workforce and the ability of the sector to recruit and retain younger workers in the face of increased competition for fewer workers.

To date, the HR Council has completed a literature review that examines:

  • Characteristics, motivating factors and employment preferences of early career Canadian workers with post-secondary education (PSE); and
  • Factors influencing career decisions by early career employees with PSE.

The HR Council has also subscribed to From Learning to Work, a 2009 online survey of over 16,000 university and college students from across Canada.

An advisory committee of young professionals working in the sector guides the project:

Melissa Brizuela
Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation



Elana Ludman
Santropol Roulant
Sharon Evans



Andrew Naples
Queen’s University
Jesse Gair
Spence Neighbourhood Association



Rena Tabata
Mitsui Canada
Ginny Gonneau
BC Centre of Excellence for Women's Health



Stefica Turuk
Alberta Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society

Four members of the advisory committee have attended workshops on Generation Y recruitment and retention, sponsored by the Public Policy Forum. In a recent HR Council Trends & Issues article, one member of the advisory committee contributed her perspective on the importance of taking a multi-generational approach to HR issues in the sector.

During the next phase of the project, five online focus groups will be held with university students to explore:

  • Job qualities participants will seek when they look for employment
  • Knowledge and awareness of jobs/careers in the nonprofit sector
  • Perceived benefits and drawbacks to working in the nonprofit sector

The focus groups will also test key messages about the advantages of working in the nonprofit sector.

The overall project findings will assist nonprofit organizations to recruit and retain early career employees more effectively, and will support labour force development activities undertaken by nonprofit networks and umbrella organizations.

early career

Growing Younger

A portrait of younger workers and their priorities. Presenting recommendations for how nonprofits and the sector at large can attract young talent.

Full Report (PDF)


early career

Why Nonprofit?

Outlines key findings from focus groups with university students exploring their knowledge and awareness of jobs and careers in the nonprofit sector; their perceptions and expectations of job satisfaction in the nonprofit sector; and positive and negative factors that would influence a decision to work in the sector.

Full Report (PDF) Executive Summary (PDF)


Links & Resources

The New Collar Workforce - PDF
Understanding the Millennial mindset - A primer for nonprofits

Article summarizing findings from the literature review.

Generation 'Why'?

Trends & Issues column written by Melissa Brizuela, a member of the project advisory committee.


Late Career Employees

This stream of the project focuses on late career recruitment (i.e. attracting those who are currently employed in, or recently retired from, the public and/or for-profit sectors).

To date, the HR Council has completed a literature review that examines:

  • Labour force participation of older workers, including post-retirement employment
  • Employment preferences of older workers
  • Retirement trends, plans and preferences
  • Career development of older workers, including transitions to the nonprofit sector

Boomer Bridging

Boomer Bridging

Provides an overview of research findings, based upon a literature review and a survey of 5,300 public and private sector employees, to support recruitment efforts of baby boomers from the public and private sectors. The research findings will inform nonprofit networks and umbrella organizations to establish labour force development strategies that take into account late career and post-retirement workers from other sectors.

Full Report (PDF)


Boomer Bridging

Boomer Boon

Presents findings from complementary research that explored the hypothesis that high skills baby boomers represent a potential supply of labour, both paid and unpaid, for the nonprofit sector. This project included convening a group of key informants with the goal of crafting and validating a set of recommendations for all parties with a stake in the development of a successful labour force strategy for the nonprofit sector.

Full Report (PDF)


An advisory committee with experience in the public, for-profit and nonprofit sectors guides the project.

The next phase of the project involves a survey of public and private sector employees aged 45+ and retired persons to assess their potential interest in transitioning to full-time or part-time paid employment in the nonprofit sector, either in later career or post-retirement years. For more information about the survey, contact SPR Associates at: 1-800-363-0832.

The overall project findings will assist nonprofit organizations to recruit and retain late career employees more effectively, and will support labour force development activities undertaken by non-profit networks and umbrella organizations.

For more information about this project please contact info@hrcouncil.ca