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Does the perfect candidate exist? Here’s some tips on how to find the right person for the job


Friday, 28th June 2019 at 5:07 pm
Maggie Coggan
Recruiting the newest member of your team is hard work. Recruiting the perfect candidate is even harder. So we asked one of Australia’s largest charities, Save the Children, for advice on spotting your perfect match. 


Friday, 28th June 2019
at 5:07 pm
Maggie Coggan


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Does the perfect candidate exist? Here’s some tips on how to find the right person for the job
Friday, 28th June 2019 at 5:07 pm

Recruiting the newest member of your team is hard work. Recruiting the perfect candidate is even harder. So we asked one of Australia’s largest charities, Save the Children, for advice on spotting your perfect match. 

How do you attract the right candidates? 

Di Francois is Save the Children’s manager of people and culture and has over 20 years of human resource experience. In other words, she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to hiring people. 

She says you never know who’s going to apply, but making sure the organisation’s website and the job ad reflects your workplace culture will mean it appeals to the people you want working for you. 

“At Save the Children, we do a lot of work on our job ads to use a language that reflects how we think and how we work and so hopefully that appeals to like-minded people,” Francois says. 

Using informal referral programs on platforms like LinkedIn can also be a way to scout out good talent.   

If you are going through a recruitment agency, it’s important to tell them if you don’t like the candidates they are sending through. 

“Giving good feedback to recruitment agencies about the people they put forward [is essential] so that they’re helping us find the right people,” Francois says. 

Once you’ve got your list of candidates, what do you look for? 

As far as Francois is concerned, the qualities that you can’t teach people are the most valuable to an organisation – particularly in the NFP sector where the needs of the organisation often change in an instant. 

“Obviously they have to have the core technical capabilities but people learn things very quickly if they’ve got the right motivation, if they’re smart, flexible and adaptive,” she says. 

“People who can deal with ambiguity and complexity and who are not too rigid so they understand the requirements of a role might change and they understand that the needs of the organisation might change.” 

Looking out for red flags in the interview

What do people who think they have nothing left to learn, those with a lack of self awareness and people wanting to career-hop have in common? They could be an employee disaster waiting to happen. 

“The person who doesn’t think that they’ve got anything left to learn or somebody who’s not able to talk about their failings as well as their wins are all big red flags in my experience,” Francois says. 

“One of the things I do look for is to see that somebody has stayed in a place and maybe gotten one or two promotions, in at least one of the places. That tells me that they’re promotable, and that they’ve been able to commit to something for a length of time.”  

While a purpose-driven, passionate candidate is usually a drawcard in the for-purpose sector, it’s important they are applying for the right reasons.  

“Sometimes people want to work for the organisation because they’ve had a deeply distressing experience in relation to the issues we work around, which is a red flag for me about their well-being,” she says.  

“And so we always test very hard on whether people are looking for a new career direction for the right reasons.” 


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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