A Headhunter’s Dirty Little Secret No. 1 – Poaching Candidates

Want to know a recruiter’s secret about luring top-notch executive talent from other organizations?


Believe it or not, the Fall season is one of the most ideal times to hire executive talent for a charitable, non-profit, or social-profit organization.

Why is this the best time of year to hire? Consider the following:

  • Those who come to the realization they are ready for a career transition often do so once they return to work and daily routines after a leisurely summer vacation.
  • In many people’s minds, the start of the New Year is a logical time to start a new job.
  • The Fall season initiates the beginning of networking events and seasonal parties when natural interaction among professionals occur, making it a great time for people to organically talk about and promote an opportunity at your organization among their respective networks.
  • There is a natural breaking point in this sector around the Christmas and New Year holidays, thereby making it a great time for executives to resign and take a week or two off before starting a new role.
  • It is easier for executives to disengage from their present charitable organizations at the start of the New Year because most of the high-volume fundraising work is over after the Christmas season.

With this in mind, during this season when your executive recruiter goes tapping your favourite executives from other organizations on the shoulder on your behalf about a career move, you may find there is an overwhelming allure to a leadership role within your organization.

Problem is, many leaders in the charitable, non-profit, and social-profit sectors fail to maximize this time of year. Instead of attempting to secure talent and solidify a strong leadership team in the months leading up to the New Year, organizations focus on the panic and immediacy of end-of-year fundraising.

As a result, most searches for executive talent are pushed off until the start of the New Year, when your most desirable executive candidates have already secured roles elsewhere.

But don’t just take our word for it. Consider the data released by Executives Online in July of 2014, which affirms that January is:

third from the bottom of the twelve months in terms of new jobs. What makes January even less advantageous to the job-seeker is the New Year’s resolution effect: Candidate registrations surge in January, which may make it harder for yours to stand out. The ratio of new candidates to new jobs – a figure we’ll call the Search Competition Index or SCI – is highest in January of any month, by a considerable margin (24% higher than the next month). Too much noise in the market also makes the employers’ and recruiters’ task of selecting the right people for shortlist and hire more difficult. It may be better, when hiring, to wait for a calmer month. (Beitel, 2014, para. 3)

If you really want to be a charitable, non-profit, or social-profit organization that is truly set apart from others in the sector, why not start by growing and strengthening your executive leadership team when no one else is doing the same.


Beitel, Anne. (2014, July 31). Data reveal best time of year to hire, find a job. Retrieved from: http://www.executivesonline.fr/en/blog/2014/07/31/data-reveal-


Why Charity Executives Should be Active on LinkedIn [INFOGRAPHIC]

You need to be on LinkedIn.

This is especially true if you’re a charity executive with any sort of fundraising responsibility.

Even if you have no intention of transitioning to a new role any time soon, LinkedIn can be one of your most powerful tools for networking and raising funds. After all, according to one of LinkedIn’s latest infographics, LinkedIn’s members are:

  • affluent, educated, and influential;
  • have an average US household income of $83,000;
  • have twice the buying power (and therefore giving power) of the average US consumer; and
  • are six times more likely to engage with content on LinkedIn rather than job activity.

Sounds like the perfect breeding ground for potential donors, doesn’t it?! Read more

Leave A Legacy, Not a Mess: Learning from Mistakes

There’s a lot you can learn from the legacy that others leave upon their transition.

Similarly, there’s a lot you can learn from the mess that others leave behind in their abandonment as well.

The strongest leaders are those who learn from the mistakes of those who’ve gone before them; who learn from the mess that is left behind. Read more

Leave a Legacy, Not a Mess: Avoiding Burnout

“Burnout is a choice.”

I overheard a complete stranger make this remark to someone earlier this week. Without even knowing it, this person sent my mind racing about the validity of this statement. Is burnout indeed a product of one’s choices?! 

A leader experiencing burnout is doomed to both leave a legacy and a mess. The legacy of burnout is one of pity and disenchantment, while the mess is one of chaos and  anticlimax.

As with most potential challenges in life, burnout can be avoided through prevention. Here are some quick tips that will help you avoid burnout to ensure that you leave a legacy, and not a mess: Read more

Leave a Legacy, Not a Mess: Perfecting Leadership

I can’t tell you why I hadn’t understood this before, but I only recently discovered that it is impossible for me to be the perfect leader to any given organization.

Dying to know why!?

It’s because there is no such thing as the perfect leader. Read more

Leave a Legacy, Not a Mess: Mentoring Leaders

mentor |ˈmenˌtôr, -tər|


an experienced and trusted adviser: he was her friend and mentor until his death in 1915.

• an experienced person in a company, college, or school who trains and counsels new employees or students.

verb [ with obj. ]

advise or train (someone, esp. a younger colleague).


mentorship |-ˌSHip|noun

ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: via French and Latin from Greek Mentōr, the name of the adviser of the young Telemachus in Homer’s Odyssey .

When we talk about the concept of leaving a legacy and not a mess within one’s organization, the topic of mentoring other leaders cannot be overlooked. Read more

Leave a Legacy, Not a Mess: Succession Planning

Tired of reading today’s-best-tips-on-succession-planning type posts?!

I don’t blame you.

Succession planning is a popular topic and one can easily become inundated with information on the subject and overwhelmed with the step-by-step process by which to begin and maintain a succession plan for any given organization.

We cannot, however, in good faith leave out the topic of succession planning from a blog series such as Leave a Legacy, Not a Mess. The simple realization is that if an executive leader or board has avoided creating a succession plan, all hopes of leaving a legacy will be dashed by the onslaught of an interim mess.

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Read more

Leaving a Legacy, Not a Mess Series: Lowering the Overhead

The conversation surrounding best practices within the not-for-profit sector, particularly concerning the use of funds for compensation, overhead, and distribution to charity recipients continues to be debated.

Enter Dan Pallotta – a man who could very well be the poster child for our blog series Leaving a Legacy, Not a Mess. In his TED Talk video entitled, The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong, Pallotta “calls out the doubled standard that drives our broken relationship to charities”. Pallotta’s legacy itself could very well be summed up in his own words:

Our generation does not want its epitaph to read: “We kept charity overhead low.” Read more

Leaving a Legacy, Not a Mess Series: Finishing Well

Finish well.

This advice best sums up what is to be the first in a series of blog posts entitled, Leave a Legacy, Not a Mess. The focus of this series is to offer insights, best practices, and discussions on organizational leadership.

Finishing well has everything to do with being mindful of the day when you resign, retire, or are promoted. Often times, people only think about passing on organizational knowledge within the typical last two weeks of fulfilling their job or role, rather than being proactive and strategically implementing systems and training which empower others on one’s team to carrying on business-as-usual upon one’s departure from an organization. Read more

Make Volunteer Work a Core Value

I like to be challenged.

I especially like to be challenged by those I admire and respect in the business world.

If you’re an avid “Philip J.W. Smith” blog reader (and if you are, I thank thee), you’ll already know of my affinity toward Brett Wilson from my post entitled Strategic Marketing through Corporate Philanthropy.

The challenge I was recently posed with, is from a business leader whom I highly admire, that is Sir Richard Branson. Read more


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