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Tides of Change: recruiting in transition periods

In the last six months, we’ve worked with a number of charities going through significant strategic shifts or restructures. A tide of change is sweeping across the faith-based charity sector, perhaps encouraged by the lessons learned from COVID and the various cultural shifts that happened during the pandemic. In this blog, the Carnelian Team reflects on the particular challenges of recruitment during a time of transition.

Tides of Change: recruiting in transition periods

In the last six months, we’ve worked with a number of charities going through significant strategic shifts or restructures. A tide of change is sweeping across the faith-based charity sector, perhaps encouraged by the lessons learned from COVID and the various cultural shifts that happened during the pandemic. In this blog, the Carnelian Team reflects on the particular challenges of recruitment during a time of transition.

Change is appealing

Times of transition can be a good time to attract talent because opportunity to be part of the change is appealing to many capable people.

In your communication with potential candidates, emphasise the changes that the organisation is going through. If this puts candidates off, they are the wrong candidates.

Change requires particular skills

Interview for resilience, agility, and big-picture thinking skills. These were always important but have risen higher up the list. Look also for candidates that have been in the driving seat in times of change, rather than a passenger giving advice and support. These people are rare in the faith-based charity world.

Prepare well

The pressures of change mean recruitment can feel urgent. But the old mantra ‘hire slow, fire fast’ is still wise, particularly if big questions about the role and organisation are being asked. Take time to be clear what you want and to assess candidates. You don’t want to find that when it comes to interviewing candidates you are really looking for a different skillset than when you started the recruitment process.

Recruiting senior leaders is still hard

Although the ‘Great Resignation’ means more people are looking to move roles than ever before, this does not always mean longer shortlists. The talent pool in the Christian charity world has always been small (partly because the sector has grown faster than talent can be cultivated) and the skill of leading during change is particularly hard to find.

Flexibility is key

It has always been true that flexibility regarding salary and location enable better candidates to be found. But it is now truer than ever. Post-pandemic, greater flexibility on location is expected by candidates. Organisations that do not have the ability to flex enough to attract the good candidates, rarely have the ability to flex enough to deal with the demands of change generally. Maybe now is a good time to review your remuneration policy.

Recruiting a senior leader is like recruiting a major donor

We are often struck how many organisations adopt a ‘convince us you’re right for the job’ attitude when recruiting leaders. The best candidates must be woo-ed into joining your organisation. The posture of the hiring organisation should be the same as when recruiting a major donor, i.e. not ‘convince us’ but ‘let us convince you to invest in us’. Interviews are not exams; they are two-way conversations.

This may change how the assessment process is structured. For example, one client we have worked with recently asked candidates to deliver a presentation on the interview day, but only after the CEO had delivered a presentation to the candidates.

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