How to Attract Top Talent, Even When You Can’t Offer a Competitive Salary

Jamie Perry
January 25, 2022

Today, I want to address one of the most common questions I’ve heard from clients recently, especially those who work at smaller nonprofits: 

There are so many jobs open right now. We know we can’t offer as competitive a salary as other organizations. How do we still attract talented folks and make our offer more appealing? 

First off, this is a very common issue! There are huge salary ranges in the nonprofit sector due to a large variety of organization sizes and budgets. Just because you can’t offer the highest salary on the market does not mean you’re unable to put together an attractive offer. 

One thing I would strongly encourage is including the salary range in your job description. I know it can be tempting to conceal it, especially if the salary range is on the lower end. But when it comes to salary, transparency is always best. Increased salary transparency promotes equity by strengthening protection for workers and revealing any disparity in pay.  For some folks, it will be a deal breaker, and you don’t want to waste their time or yours on someone who simply cannot make that salary work. And that’s OK! 

The good news is, people don’t make job decisions based on salary alone. Some people are seeking mission-driven work that aligns with their core values, a positive work culture, work/life balance, and an organization that prioritizes their mental and physical health. Especially after nearly two years of operating during a pandemic, employees are looking for employers who are transparent and committed to their wellbeing. 

There are many other benefits and perks you can add to an offer to make it more attractive to prospective employees: 

  1. Hybrid work model. Many nonprofits are requiring their employees to come back into the office full-time, even those who have been successfully working from home for almost two years. Offering a hybrid work model will show you trust your employees and value their time and freedom.
  2. Flexible work schedule. Offering employees the option to work hours outside of the traditional 9 to 5 can be a huge perk, especially for working parents.
  3. More paid time off. Ten days of paid time off a year isn’t cutting it anymore. Offering substantial PTO, or even unlimited PTO, is a great way to make your organization’s benefits stand out from the crowd.
  4. Gym benefits or food vouchers. Offering reimbursement for employee’s gym membership or lunches is a perk that will make employees feel appreciated on a regular basis.  
  5. Professional development. This is a win/win for employees and employers. Paying for professional development is a great way to invest in your employees’ work and also give employees a chance to learn and grow.
  6. A culture of employee appreciation. There are so many ways to acknowledge your employees’ hard work: spontaneous time off, a bonus or gift card after wrapping up a big project, hosting a party or time to play games during work hours. This can be a good thing to mention during conversations about company culture.

If you’re looking to hire top talent on a smaller budget, you won’t want to miss today’s freebie: How to Make Your Job Offer More Appealing to the Perfect Candidate. This check-list will walk you through ways to enhance your job offer beyond salary when a candidate wants to negotiate your initial offer.