Your job descriptions say a lot about your organization

Salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits package including health covers; paid annual, sick, and holiday leave; and other benefits. Work is generally performed in an office setting. Travel around the DC metro area and extended hours may be occasionally required.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does. This is the standard language included in (what I would estimate) 99% of nonprofit job descriptions. It’s so standard it’s almost frustrating to read. When I see this on the bottom of a job description is has the same meaning to me as legalese - I understand it has to be there but it does nothing to help convince to want to learn more.

how to write a nonprofit job description

What about this one?

Giant Rabbit offers a supportive and collaborative work environment; we strive to foster internal leadership and professional growth among our staff. We offer a flexible working environment—we’re all in the office on Mondays and Wednesdays, then staff are free to work from home the rest of the week if they prefer. We have an office culture that’s supportive of our staff’s family lives and artistic pursuits. We’re interested in candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds, because different perspectives among our staff make us better at work.

Wow. Can’t you visualize exactly what it must be like to work here?

Notice you don’t see anything about health insurance and retirement; for full-time employees those are pretty much a given. What you do see is a focus on what makes this company different. And it’s clear they’re different on purpose.


What you should be sharing

That last example may feel too forward for your organization, and if so that’s okay. What prospective employees are thinking while reading your job posting is:

  • Will I fit in?
  • Their mission is great, but how do they support employees?
  • What would my days look and feel like if I joined this team?


An organization's description, gone right

Here's an example of a beautifully written JD, pulled right from Idealist:

At the very heart of RTC are our core values: leadership, teamwork, service, respect, quality and effectiveness—in a casual and fun work environment! These values inform how we treat each other, how we relate to external partners and how we go about our daily work.

To make these values real, we are committed to creating an internal culture that—

  • Gives all of us the opportunity to participate in decision-making
  • Fosters a stimulating and rewarding work environment that encourages teamwork and cooperation across the organization
  • Recognizes and celebrates high-quality work
  • Supports our professional development
  • Helps us to balance the demands of work and home life in a manner consistent with achieving our personal and organizational objectives
  • Creates an atmosphere conducive to friendship and fun


Small tweaks, big impact

Identify these things and promote them! If you allow for flexible working arrangements, say that! If the majority of employees participate in and/or lead committees focused on engagement, diversity, and special events, then say that. Whatever it is that is woven into the fiber of your work culture, share it.

It may seem like such a small tweak - an insignificant effort. But think about the time and money that goes into recruiting. And think about the reach that your job descriptions have. Far more people are reading these than the “about” page on your website.

At the end of the day it’s what makes you different that is your biggest strength. And in the marketplace of do-gooders, if you want to claim the top talent you’ve got to share your story.