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April 18, 2016

Attracting the perfect candidate: it's down to you!

Hiring isn't always easy. Digital Consultant Luke Watts looks at what charities can do to make sure they are attracting the best people in a candidate driven market.

Finding the right person for any role with your charity has its challenges. It can come down to any number of factors such as salary, location, designated budgets and future prospects. Not forgetting the attractiveness of your cause. With the onus on candidates to seek the right role it is easy to forget that recruitment is a candidate driven market, as much as the pressure is on candidates, charities will also be feeling the competition to secure the best people.

For the average job seeker, the process can be familiar: you sign up to 4 or 5 agencies, whisper on the phone to hiring managers and recruiters while at work, send out CV after CV and invent excuses to cover for multiple interviews. But while there are many factors that make one job more desirable than another, for charities there are a number of things they can  do to make themselves more accessible and attractive to candidates.

Application forms

An unnecessarily long and impractical application form is likely to be a turn off to the majority of candidates. HR protocol is important, but when an applicant is applying for a number of roles, a 20 page application form will likely see your job pushed to the bottom of the pile.

When a candidate is looking for a role they are usually balancing their search with their current job, family and other commitments. Time is limited, whether we like it or not! This applies to interviews as much as the applications. It is important to find a balance between being thorough and being mindful of your requirements, in particular, how they could be perceived and what that could potentially project to candidates about your organisation.


More often than not a two stage interview is acceptable. It allows for an initial meet and first impression and then a more in depth probe, potentially involving a task. Multiple tests, presentations and home assignments can scare candidates away. Do you need them to jump through hoops to prove themselves to you?

The Dragons' Den style panel interview is dead. You'll get a better impression of your interviewee's character by setting up an initial coffee/introduction and allowing for a more conversational flow to proceedings. If the panel and candidate connect in the interview, it is a great indicator that they will work well together. 

Selling your charity

Whet candidates' appetites with a colourful and eye catching job description. Try to avoid the unexciting black and white copy with copious bullet points and of course, always be truthful.

Be clear about the role and what you expect of the post holder, but in equal measure let them know what to expect from the charity; upcoming events, key partners and achievements are bound to boost your appeal.

Trust your recruitment partner

If you are working with a recruitment partner then build a relationship founded on reciprocal transparency and honesty. Your recruitment partner should be your wingman. Give them the information they need to make them an effective part of your staff attraction arsenal.

Charities need to raise their expectations of what agencies are able to deliver, alter the way that they engage with them to leverage maximum value from them. This includes the advice given and direction on the best way to fill roles with the best candidates - after all, who has their ears closer to the ground than recruiters in understanding the hiring environment in a given industry?

You could always do it all yourself, but bear in mind a recent example where a charity placed an advert directly and received over 150 applications. The hiring manager spent a month having to carefully screen and meticulously score card every application. Happy recruiting.

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