In-Depth References

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Good hiring demands deep understanding of the real person, not just the candidate who shows up on interview day. If you are stymied in your pursuit of the real story, learn how experience executive recruiters use reference checks (on and off the list) to build a complete candidate profile.

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In-Depth References

  1. 1. In-depth References:Getting Past Name, Rank, and Serial Number Laura Gassner Otting Special Thanks To Our Sponsors
  2. 2. Helping ordinary people raise extraordinary amounts for nonprofits is all we do, and we love it. A Proud Sponsor of NonprofitWebinars.com
  3. 3. Today’s Speaker Laura Gassner Otting President, Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group Hosting: Assisting with chat questions:Sam Frank, Synthesis Partnership April Hunt, Nonprofit Webinars
  4. 4. In-Depth References: Getting Past Name, Rank, and Serial Number Good hiring demands deep understanding of the real person, not just the candidate who shows up on interview day. If you are stymied in your pursuit of the real story, learn how experienced executive recruiters use reference checks (on and off the list) to build a complete candidate profile. LAURA GASSNER OTTING, Founder and PresidentNonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group About Us The Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group was founded from the simple notion that every organization, regardless of its budget or geographic footprint can better fulfill its mission with a highly-tailored, innovative, and strategic approach to acquiring and retaining its most important resource: talent. Designed to operate with ‘new economy’ savvy, the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group unbundles traditional executive search and leadership transition packages and offers sophisticated services tailored to our clients’ various needs. We are committed to passing along our knowledge throughout our process so that our clients’ internal capacity and independence is enhanced. We work worldwide with mission-driven client organizations in the nonprofit, academic, and public sectors, as well as with the job seekers who serve them. For organizations, we offer executive search and leadership transition services. For candidates, we provide leadership development, job search strategy creation, and resume/cover letter assistance. For both organizations and candidates, we supply professional and organizational development in person through our customized training programs and online with our groundbreaking, complimentary “NPAG U” webinar series. Our team members are personally dedicated to our clients’ missions and together offer more than 40 years of executive search experience in addition to the wealth of perspective, expertise, and networks they offer from previous careers in the nonprofit, academic, public, political, and private sectors.Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. Laura Gassner Otting About Laura Gassner Otting is Founder and President of the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group, a retained Us executive search firm dedicated to building the capacity of nonprofit organizations, associations, institutions of higher education, the public sector and the professionals who make them run smoothly. Prior to forming the group, Laura served as the senior vice president of ExecSearches.com and as vice president at Isaacson, Miller, one of the largest search firms in New England. Laura served as a presidential appointee for the White House Office of National Service and a program officer for the Corporation for National and Community Service, where she was part of the team that created the AmeriCorps, and as a member of the Clinton/Gore Transition Team and 1992 Election Team. She holds a Master of Arts in Political Management from the George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. Laura serves on the boards of College Bound Dorchester, AmeriCorps Alums, and the Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program at Brandeis University, and is the Clerk and Governance Chair of the board of Newton Montessori School. She has served as a member of the board of Camp Starfish and the Alumni Board of the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University and as the founding board chair of both Strong Women, Strong Girls and the Boston Choral Ensemble. Laura is the author of Change Your Career: Transitioning to the Nonprofit Sector and is widely quoted for her expertise in mission-driven work in publications including The New York Times, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Money magazine. Laura can be reached at 617-527-9661 or LGO@NonprofitProfessionals.com.Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. Understanding the Mix The Formula Establish Listen Trust Well References are: Two Parts Art Laser In One Part Science Complete PictureNonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. Getting the Full Picture Identify Targets Who do you interview?Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. A Series of Conversations During a Single Call Opening Up Establishment of Trust Understanding of the Context An Exploration of Professional and Personal Fit Investigation of Challenges The QuestionsNonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  10. 10. Establishment of Trust The Warm Up Getting the Reference Talking The point of the reference is to get both the good and the bad news about a candidate. Confirming the positives is only part of the job; similarly, eliciting only weaknesses doesn’t tell the whole story. Provide a reference a certain level of comfort by ensuring confidentiality, and then drawing out positives and good experiences first. Even if you hear a negative early in a call, spend some time talking about strengths before circling back to the weakness, lest the reference fear that he is undermining the candidate’s chances and get nervous and shut down.Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  11. 11. Understanding of the Context Know the Story Understanding of the Context, including referee’s professional background and how long and in what capacity the referee has known the candidate, allows the caller to move chronologically through the referee’s experience with the candidate to gather specific examples of challenges and/or successes which might inform our understanding of the candidate.Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  12. 12. Exploration of Fit Track Records The Exploration of Professional and Person Fit, uses the challenges section of the position description as a guide to seek information about the candidate’s past performance which can inform future performance and potential fit to the current position. Bring your opinions or those of the hiring manager or committee to the reference and ask him or her to agree or disagree with the statements. These questions can be statements expressed by the hiring committee, or just another method of engaging the reference. Always calibrate the words of a reference. Push your references to give you specifics, to separate the good candidates from the ones who can move mountains.Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  13. 13. Investigation of Challenges More Details An Investigation of Challenges, will round out the picture and make every effort to understand where the candidate would need support or professional development to succeed in the role. Many references get off too easy, describing candidates in single word adjectives like smart, savvy and determined or bossy, difficult and opinionated. These descriptions are helpful, but they don’t give nearly enough information with which a hiring manager can make a decision. Getting to the anecdotes requires a bit of pushiness and a lot of listening. Ask for stories with questions about the most controversial issue in which the candidate was involved, a time when the candidate had to fire someone or take a personal stand, or what the candidate has learned from the reference or vice versa.Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  14. 14. “The Questions” The Dirt Every reference is closed with two formal questions read verbatim: “Is there anything else we need to know which would prove embarrassing to the candidate or the client if it were to become public?” “To your knowledge, has this individual ever been accused of or involved in any inappropriate conduct, and examples of inappropriate conduct could include malfeasance, misfeasance, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, or anything of that nature that could affect his/her performance in a highly public role?”Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  15. 15. Hear What Isn’t Said The Trick References tend to spend as much time considering what not to say as they spend wondering what to say. Listen very carefully to the inflection in a voice, the tone of a word or the pauses in between sentences, a quieter tone, jokes, word choices, hesitations, flatness, effusive admiration. Even better, when you think the reference done speaking, wait a few beats before your next question; references nervous about what they aren’t saying will fill the silence with exactly the words they meant not to say.Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  16. 16. Private Investigation Turning Over RocksNonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  17. 17. Resources NPAG’s Article Library: Hiring a Track Record: More Informative Reference Checks Reference Checks: Questions to Ask Wednesday Webinars: NonprofitWebinar.comNonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  18. 18. Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LAURA GASSNER OTTING, Founder and President 617-527-9661 LGO@NonprofitProfessionals.comNonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC© 2010 NPAG LLC. All rights reserved.
  19. 19. Find the listings for our current season of webinars and register at NonprofitWebinars.com Chris Dumas Chris@NonprofitWebinars.com 707-812-1234 Special Thanks To Our Sponsors

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