8 Best Practices for Writing Job Postings that Work: Nonprofits
Job postings are one of the most important things you can do to get your nonprofit organization’s name out there and attract new employees. They also have a significant impact on whether or not someone will apply for a position with your organization–a poorly composed job posting is likely going to scare off potential applicants.
With this in mind, it’s imperative that nonprofits take some time when writing their job posts to make sure they do everything possible to maximize their effectiveness. Below we outline 8 best practices for writing effective job postings that work.
Let’s find that nonprofit talent!
1. Include a clear and concise job description
The most important thing a job posting needs to do is provide clear information about the position that’s available. Don’t simply paste the Job Description in your job ad because it’s important to include the following:
- Title of position
- Location (city and state)
- Salary range – this is helpful for applying, as it can be a deciding factor in whether or not someone applies. However, don’t ask what they are currently making because you want them to apply without bias.
A well-written and detailed description will help applicants understand what they should be bringing to the table when applying. It also gives them relevant examples of tasks and responsibilities so they know whether or not this might be an appropriate fit.
Include in your post descriptions of:
- What kind/type of work can you expect? (i.e., office management)
- The company’s mission statement and goals; how does this role contribute towards achieving those goals?
- The technical skills required to do the job well
- Your expectations for how people will dress and act on a day-to-day basis (i.e., formal, casual)
- Which tasks are most important or where employees need to have experience in order to be successful?
This is what your posting should include: “Job description: Our mission is to help small businesses succeed by sharing our expertise with their management teams. We’re looking for an experienced Operations Coordinator who has excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.” Then, continue with additional details.
Your post needs at least two sentences describing what you’re looking for in applicants. It should also include any other information that might seem obvious but could easily get missed if not included here. Your goal is to write a job posting that answers the most common questions the applicant has about the role.
There are plenty of templates out there for nonprofits with typically high turnover positions–look into using one of these if you haven’t already!
2. Use keywords that are relevant to the position
It’s important to use keywords that are relevant to the position in order for your job post to show up in search results. If you’re looking for a person who is knowledgeable about “salesforce,” make sure those words also appear on your posting.
One thing many people forget, though, is including some of these key terms (think: “public relations”) even if they don’t feel like it applies–they might come in handy later!
If you are not sure what keywords should be included, then do some research to find out what is most important for the role. What are the words you use to describe the person you need when talking to a colleague? Include the most important keywords.
Example nonprofit job posting keywords:
|Role / Position||Job Posting Keywords|
|Development Director||fundraising, CRM, moves management, donor development, major gifts|
|Facilities Manager||groundskeeping, building systems, janitorial, HVAC, maintenance planning, carpentry, construction, electrical, plumbing|
|Grant Writer||grant research, foundations, Foundation Center, writing, report writer, tracking, Salesforce, NationBuilder|
|Human Resource Manager||SHRM, aPHR, SHRM-CP, FLSA, compensation and benefits, employee relations, compliance, PEO, DEI, recruitment|
|Office Manager||clerical support, office supplies, customer service, bookkeeping, accounts receivables, receptionist, Office 365, Google Workplace|
|Program Director||manage program, standard operating, procedures, processes, day-to-day program management, program budget, manage relationships|
|Controller||GAAP standards, compliance, regulatory requirements, audit, CPA, Sage Intacct, QuickBooks Online, NetSuite, reconciliations|
|Operations Manager||contract management, DEI, professional development, liability insurance, facilities management, budgeting, expense reporting, systems, processes|
|Content Marketing Manager||content marketing strategy, branding, channels, social media content, landing pages, collateral, SEO, CRO, style guide, paid, organic, MailChimp, aHrefs, HubSpot, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Pardot|
3. Keep the language simple and avoid jargon or acronyms
When writing a job posting for your organization, be sure to keep the language simple. Jargon, acronyms and abbreviations can confuse many job seekers. They may not have the same knowledge on your field as you do.
When writing about terms that are used in your organization or industry; make sure to include a brief explanation of what they mean so people don’t get confused.
Avoid using jargon when describing specific tasks within the position. For example, if you need someone that can do “moves management” with donors, instead also use sales terms like “lift”, and “relationship building”.
Using vague language will only lead to applicants being more unclear about what skills are needed for this role which could result in them submitting an application without having all qualifications necessary for it–so save yourself some time and be specific.
4. Provide details about salary, benefits, and other perks
Job postings that work best include salary ranges and benefit summaries.
You don’t have to post the full salary range. Some organizations post the beginning of the range through mid-point, leaving room for further negotiation and growth over time.
The salary range and benefits option should be easy to see at the top of the job posting. This is important because it helps attract more qualified applicants that want those things, and discourage people from applying who may have other salary or benefit needs.
In addition to providing details about salary ranges and benefits, other perks such as flex-time or telecommuting options can also be included.
Employers should consider how their organizational culture influences recruitment when they decide which perks apply best to them–for example, an employer with relaxed work days might offer flexible hours whereas one who’s always on deadline would do well by including reasonable expectations around flexibility (i.e., “hours will vary day-to-day”).
5. Be transparent about your organization’s culture (e.g., “we’re a family-friendly workplace”)
In today’s job market, it is important for employees to feel like they are part of something. Much of that “something” is derived by your culture.
The employer should be transparent about what the culture of their organization is.
If your organizational has a family-friendly workplace, it’s important to mention that on you job ad. If people are looking for an environment where they can wear jeans and flip flops, then this needs to be mentioned as well so interviewers and applicants alike know if this is the right fit for them or not.
It may seem like a small thing but it can have great impact in attracting potential applicants who will feel more comfortable with your company’s culture going into an interview process knowing upfront what might await them there.
6. Offer flexible work arrangements as an option (e.g., telecommuting)
Many organizations get stuck in thinking that every employee must work in the office. In fact, with technology and good management, many roles can be very effective when filled by employees her are remote some or all of the time.
It is a good exercise to think about how the organization can be more flexible and offer remote work arrangements for certain positions.
This flexibility gives employees a chance to work from home which is appealing to many because it allows them to balance their personal, family life with their professional one without being forced into an office-based job. Plus, we all know that commuting in traffic during rush hour isn’t fun–so providing this option has its benefits as well.
7. Post jobs on multiple sites in order to reach more people with different needs/interests/backgrounds (e.g., Idealist, LinkedIn, Indeed)
When posting your jobs, it is a good idea to post them on various sites. There are many options for this including: Idealist, LinkedIn, Indeed and more. The goal of doing this is that you will reach different people with different needs/interests/backgrounds which in turn means that you’ll be able to find the best person for the job.
One of the most common ways employers post available positions online is through Craigslist or other classified ad websites like Monster.com (this also applies if they’re hiring locally). It’s important to identify what specific type of position one is looking for so these resources can provide as much relevant results as possible–therefore making it easier to hire qualified candidates who fit your needs.
For nonprofits, or specialized positions, we recommend specialized job posting sites. Take a look at our Best Job Posting Sites/Boards For Nonprofits article that also includes traffic estimated and costs.
8. Set a deadline for applicants to apply for the position
One of the best practices for writing a job posting that works is to set an application deadline. This way, if applicants are in contact with you before applying they know the schedule and when it will be closed. It also ensures that potential candidates have enough time to apply, if they choose to schedule accordingly. This is a critical skill in many roles.
Lastly, this helps deter those looking for jobs without any intention of following through–again saving precious time by only having qualified applications coming in!
Some employers might think setting an application deadline would discourage some applicants but actually just the opposite is true. Setting a clear timeframe makes them feel like more urgency has been given to the position.
If there is no deadline listed on your job posting, set one so that it’s easier for people to know when they need to submit their applications by (e.g., “Applications will be accepted until October 15th”)
Bonus Tip – Qualifications
You would not believe the number of job postings we’ve seen that do not include job qualifications.
Does it make sense for you to spend precious time talking with candidates that don’t even meet the minim requirements you need for a role? Of course not.
Then do yourself and the organization a favor and let potential applicants know upfront whether they meet your minimum requirements. At the same time, you can include preferences in experience, knowledge, and skills to help candidates know if they are even closer to your ideal candidate.
Here’s the catch. Be careful about what you are asking for. If the pay for a role is entry-level pay, don’t ask for someone to have 5 years of experience with advanced skills. Make experience, knowledge, and skills match the level of role you need and will pay for.
Be clear about the minimum bar you will accept and what things make for an even stronger candidate. Most applicants will self-select honestly and improve your applicant pool you will need to work through.
When it comes to writing nonprofit job postings that work, it’s important to be specific about what you’re looking for and make sure applicants have ample time to submit an application. There are many other best practices but these will help get your job listings off on the right foot.
By following some of these best practices, job postings can become more consistent and reduce wasted time sorting through applications that don’t match what you are looking for.
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