By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
Comparing prospective employers may seem cut and dried for young professionals, but when researching nonprofits, there are a number of factors to consider. Because nonprofit budgets tend to be significantly smaller than those of corporate employers, nonprofits must often find other ways to draw and retain the best staff possible. The following are factors to consider when thinking through job offers—just be sure to discuss these details after you have been offered the job, not during the initial interview.
Traditional benefit packages
The benefits employers typically offer employees include retirement plans, health insurance and vacation time. One of the first questions About.com recommends you ask is: When do I begin receiving benefits? Clarify when you will be eligible for health insurance and when coverage will start. You should also ask if the company provides a match for your retirement plan contributions, and how vacation time is accrued and when it can be used.
Professional development opportunities
Housingfinance.com collected ideas from community development managers recently on how to attract talented young nonprofit professionals and found that despite most nonprofits not being able to compete with corporate salaries, there are many other valuable incentives they offer. Among the things young professionals crave is the chance to engage in professional growth supported by the workplace. When offered a position with a nonprofit, ask if employees are given the opportunity to attend meetings, conferences, special events, trainings or any other events that could lead to an increased understanding of your job or the nonprofit sector.
While the culture of the organization might not seem like a benefit, it is very important to the overall happiness and performance of the staff. Ask questions that will provide you with more information about how staff members are recognized for accomplishments, how employers help staff reach professional growth goals and other important factors. Questions such as: “What’s the best part about working in this environment that I won’t be able to see from just a walk around the office?” from The Ladder or: “What kind of people get promoted here?” from Leveraging Knowledge can help you assess the work environment and how you could progress within the company.
What factors are most important to you when assessing benefit packages? If there are common questions you ask to understand the organizations and its benefits, please share them with other young nonprofit professionals below.