Have You Found the Right Person for the Job?

Jewish Family Life Media, a fast-growing nonprofit organization, is the world’s leading publisher of original Jewish content online. Through a period of explosive growth, Jewish Family Life Media had three chief operating officers in an eighteen-month period. The high turnover was expensive in terms of morale, focus, and dollars.

In its last search to fill the position, the organization generated 118 applications which had to be reviewed, ranked, screened, interviewed and narrowed to five finalists. This search process cost more than $25,000 including advertising and staff time.

However, the intangible costs are impossible to quantify. Between July 2001 and November 2001 there was no COO. Therefore, the CEO — the organization’s chief fundraiser — had to undertake all day-to-day operations. Then there were the opportunity costs including the loss of a major funder.

Unfortunately, the long-term vacancy and drawn-out search had taken its toll on the entire organization’s efficiency and spirits

When it next needed to hire a senior staff person, Jewish Family Life Media engaged Mersky, Jaffe & Associates to search for a Director of Development. MJA met with senior management to explore the needs, the viewpoints of its various constituencies, and the problems and opportunities the Director of Development would encounter. A detailed job description was designed and within a week of undertaking the assignment the full search was underway. Two weeks later, a meeting was scheduled to review applicants.

Mersky, Jaffe & Associates reviewed all resumes, conducted screening interviews and offered Jewish Family Life only fully qualified candidates. The consultant orchestrated scheduling, apprised all involved of progress and developments, and kept the interview process on track. In fewer than six weeks a Director of Development had been hired. Soon thereafter, he was on the job, restructuring the development effort and raising friends and funds for Jewish Family Life’s important mission.

In the three months since taking over the role, the new Director of Development reinvigorated discussions with a major funder resulting in a $250,000, three-year grant. In another case, he met the head of another foundation and developed a relationship which led to the foundation funding a new initiative.

Jewish Family Life Media learned that investing the time and money in recruiting and hiring right the first time has very clear advantages.