Traditionally, nonprofits have been well … traditional … in their recruitment practices.
So, even today, perhaps it’s no surprise that a high proportion of the job briefs given to recruiters still include the instruction ‘must have worked in a similar/comparable role….’




It makes a sort of sense … if you believe you can minimize risk by choosing people who have already proved they can do a particular job. Looking at the achievements made by these candidates in a former role, the assumption is that they will – almost automatically – do the same for you.

Clone recruiting is also seen as a money saver since there’s no apparent need to provide any training beyond the normal induction.

But … we live and work in a time where change is the only constant.

And one of the biggest challenges that forward thinking, (nonprofit) companies face today is how to build their teams with quick learning, adaptable, grow-as-you-go performers whose passion and intention represents a high percentage of their ability.

By opting for ‘been there, done that’, you take the risk of shutting out extraordinary talent.
But, an unthinking use of the ‘comparable’ yardstick can bring a more insidious negative effect.

And that’s because in many cases, ‘a comparable role’ probably isn’t.
Another nonprofit may seem similar in size, shape and operational mission to yours, but in all likelihood, it probably thinks and functions in a vastly different way.

So, you grab an executive whom you firmly believe will ‘hit the ground running.’
But instead you find you have a slow -performer who first needs to unlearn ingrained habits and ways of thinking and behaving.

So, no matter how well your new acquisition has done elsewhere, s/he will still need to be debriefed and then retrained to your culture – your company’s unique way of doing things.

No matter how smart they are, that’s likely to be a longer and harder exercise than adding new skills to a professional whose personal attitude and values are already in sync with those of your organization.

A quick learner with appropriate qualifications, talent, optimism and a warrior spirit – but perhaps no direct experience in the role – will often be of far more value to you than someone who ‘knows it all’ and resents having to change an existing outlook.

You can diminish the risks




This is particularly so if you commission a psychographic profile (like Lumina Spark) that’s capable of anticipating your enthusiastic candidate’s responses to certain stimuli and situations. And then back up your decision by using an informed, intensely personal Onboarding program that will take the new incumbent smoothly through the first crucial half year in the job.

These are pragmatic measures that alleviate risk – because recruiting for attitude doesn’t mean throwing caution to the winds and contracting the first star performer who tap-dances across your stage. While ‘attitude is everything’, reality dictates that it is actually just a dominant factor in the holistic blend of hard and soft skills.

Of course, top ranking candidates need to be able to do the job. But mostly there’s no reason why they’ll be better equipped if they’ve worked a so-called similar role.

If the culture and character, personality, level of experience and lifeskills are right and the candidate has the enthusiasm to transfer his/her investment to a new challenge, the right attitude can clinch the deal..

So, what exactly is attitude?



Attitude is about social intelligence and emotional maturity. Its enthusiasm and energy; optimism, creativity and adaptability. It’s a standpoint that embraces intelligence and judgment, intuition and integrity.

People with a positive attitude are individuals of generous spirit who take their work – but rarely themselves – seriously, who wholeheartedly champion their company, and work loyally against odds to achieve its goals.

So, next time you’re interviewing for a role in your organisation, take the time to evaluate your candidate against these markers – and maybe you’ll locate an undiscovered star!