For-Profit vs. Not-for-Profit Executive Search

There are a staggering 1.5 million not-for-profit and 200,000 middle-market companies currently registered in the United States. With the unemployment rate at 3.7%, competing for top-tier executives to drive your organization’s mission can be a challenge. However, going the extra mile to attract high-quality talent that suits your goals can be the key to setting your brand apart from the crowd.

Not-For-Profit Executive Leadership

Not-for-profit and for-profit businesses have distinctly different goals. While for-profit companies strive to maximize revenue, not-for-profits focus on maximizing their impact with limited funds. To achieve their goals, for-profit companies stick to their core competencies and employ specialized individuals. However, to this same end, not-for-profits require workers who are good fiduciaries, versatile, and willing to wear different hats depending on the organization’s current needs.

The strongest for-profit executive candidates are those in the middle of their career who have a hunger to make a good living, provide for their families, and save for retirement. These leaders know how to strategically implement the hard skills of their team in order to drive growth.

On the other hand, many successful candidates for not-for-profit positions have transitioned their careers after honing their skills in the for-profit arena. These individuals generally accept a pay cut in exchange for the opportunity to give back to the community by serving a mission that is meaningful to them. They possess a wide range of experience and are willing to wear many hats to leverage the organization with limited resources.

While some skills are easily transferable between sectors, others are not. For instance, a for-profit CFO will likely be dealing with the vastly different accounting practices of a 501(c)3. However, the marketing skills employed by a CMO typically transfer well between for and not-for-profit businesses.

Hiring Nonprofit Executive Directors

In our current economic landscape, where executives have the power to choose which organizations they lend their talents to, recruiting top talent can be a challenge. For this reason, it’s imperative to make your company attractive through being organized, strategic, and adaptable.

For not-for-profits specifically, having an organized Board of Directors that is committed to sustainability is also crucial to attracting the best executives. Board members must actively contribute both time and finances to support the organization’s mission.

However, with so much disruption in the marketplace, many organizations are currently quite disorganized. Your best potential hires are aware of this and will scrutinize how realistic your company’s mission and plans for fulfilling it are. Furthermore, they will appreciate transparency about the organization’s financial status and corporate goals and objectives. It is equally important for the candidate to be transparent. Hiring the wrong person is typically a disaster, so always be wary when potential hires are reluctant to provide references or answer key questions.

Providing pertinent information to potential hires is paramount. Withholding key details is always a red flag, and if any of these areas are lacking, a candidate may choose to work for a more organized and savvy operation.

Working with an Executive Search Firm

Corporations benefit from retaining an executive search firm to assist in preparing the key constituents involved in the candidate selection process before embarking on executive recruitment.

Although the recruitment process can seem arduous, the rewards for either sector can be remarkable. Through a focused, transparent, and engaging hiring process, you will be more likely to find a rockstar candidate who will take your endeavors to new heights.

For more information, read our ultimate guide to recruiting and hiring top executives.

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