Four Challenges Hiring Team Members with Experience

There is security in hiring someone that has experience. With that said, there are four very real challenges you will face when bringing on an experienced person; cost, inheriting baggage, culture fit, and loyalty. Let’s go through these one by one.

Cost. People with experience will be asking for a higher wage; that’s obvious. Because this is written for founders of new nonprofits, cost is going to play a very large role in your decision making. Get one thing out of your head right now; the value of an individual is not determined by their salary requirements.

Baggage. Everyone has baggage. You’re inheriting all of that great experience learned at past organizations, but you’re also inheriting all the poor work ethic, fear of failure, and the byproduct of working under a micromanager. Keep a sharp eye out for that.

Culture fit. When you hire someone with experience at other organizations, you’re bringing a little bit of that organization into yours. This is unavoidable. This can be an amazing opportunity, or it can be negative, dependent on what is being introduced. When bringing on someone with experience, spend time preparing your current team for this new team member. Explain why you made the decision to bring this person on, and be sure to clearly communicate how you expect this to impact everyone’s ability to achieve the organization’s mission.

Loyalty. Carefully look at the CV or resumé. Pay special attention as to how long he has stayed at past jobs. Is she specialized or is she a general team member? Bring him in and ask point blank why he has left so many jobs; do not worry about being offensive. I have had very little luck with hiring team members with years of experience, it inevitably ends with that person taking a job for a 5% pay increase down the road.

During the an organization’s start up, I always recommend bringing on people with experience on a project basis. As an example, during our first year we brought on someone for $100 to provide us with a fundraising proposal template for charitable foundations. Both parties benefited. We couldn’t afford her salary requirements, she wanted to support us, we provided her with an opportunity to get involved, and she made a little cash on the side.

There are real benefits to bringing team members on with past experience, but be aware of the challenges associated with this practice, especially early in your organization’s history. Hiring inexperienced team members who are passionate about your organization’s mission and that are looking for a foot in the door in the NPO/NGO World is also a great option.