Prospective employees are a nonprofit’s most important potential donors. Why? This group is not just enthusiastic about the organization’s mission – they want to see that mission succeed by wanting to commit to their future to your mission. Dismiss them –or treat them as commodities– at your peril. Applicants to a job understand they might not be selected, but they do want their time and efforts acknowledged positively and respectfully.

Here are 2 simple steps that can help –

Respect the Applicant’s Time on the Front End of the Hiring Process

Set expectations that you respect an applicant’s time upfront. Provide information about how long the effort might take and when you plan on making a hiring decision. If the hiring manager, or hiring team, is unable to respond to each applicant, say that. Doing so shows professionalism and allows the job seeker to move on after a specific date. Here’s some suggested text to use on your website or in the job description:

“We anticipate a high number of applicants for this position, and we will not be able to respond to each application. We will be contacting first-round applicants the week of [date] to conduct initial phone/zoom interviews. We understand that your time is important, and we thank everyone for their hard work in applying.”

If the position will be open for an extended time, say that too. If the hiring process will take 6 months, also say that. A little information goes a long way for all involved.

Respect Their Effort on the Back End of the Hiring Process

Not everyone who applies for a job gets the position, and communicating bad news to several people can be very awkward. How can this be handled well? Here is a classy response to a ‘you’re not hired’ situation; it respects the job seeker’s effort while being empathetic. Responding to applicants with an email might cost your organization 1 hour, but what might you get from these people in the long term? I came across this classy response several years ago; edit it as needed for your organization

Good afternoon.

I greatly appreciate your interest in private lands conservation and the [Name of Organization] in particular. Including yours, we received [# of applications] very strong applications for the [Name of Position]. Unfortunately, our hiring team has not included your application in the next round of consideration.

I apologize for the anonymity of the response; in the past, I have always tried to contact each applicant with this news directly, but the good fortune of having many applicants makes that logistically difficult for me this time around.

Hopefully, the quick turnaround on the outcome is at least some consolation. From experience I know that it is very trying to be left hanging about a position, wondering for a long time about the hiring process.

I hope you will continue to pursue career opportunities that further the protection of clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, and special lands; no shortage of work to be done along those lines.

Thanks again for your time, the effort you put into your application, and your interest in the work of the [Name of Organization].

Best wishes,

[First Name of Executive Director]

This empathetic response leaves the door open for a future relationship by acknowledging the applicant’s time and efforts. It also shows that your organization is run by professional humans who care about the nonprofit mission and potential future donor relationships (hint: that’s one reason why it’s called Development)

Job seekers want to work for your organization and help your mission succeed. What better group of potential donors is there? Don’t undervalue this great audience. Always communicate effectively, if possible, always show empathy and appreciate their time.

Tagged on: