Let's debunk the myths about working for charities, says Macmillan recruitment head

Speaking at a Third Sector even on recruitment, Andrew Hyland says many potential recruits see charities as sleepy and unchallenging

Andrew Hyland
Andrew Hyland

The voluntary sector must debunk the myth that charities do not offer opportunities for career progression if it wants to attract staff, the head of recruitment at Macmillan Cancer Support has said.

Speaking this morning at Third Sector’s breakfast briefing event on recruitment and retention in the charity sector, Andrew Hyland told delegates that a number of misconceptions were stopping talented potential employees from applying to charities.

Laura Smith, head of talent at the Brain Tumour Charity, who also spoke at the event, echoed his comments, saying charities needed to stop being modest about what they could offer as employers.

Hyland said: "There are these common myths about charities: that they’re a bit sleepy, that there’s a lack of challenge and opportunity," he said.

"These are all things I’ve heard at events, particularly in universities. It’s astounding the views some people have of what charities are like to work for.

"We need to debunk some of these myths."

He said targeting "passive" potential employees who had not specifically sought out voluntary sector organisations as employers and investing in professional and dynamic recruitment would help to do this.

Hyland added that charities needed to focus on the values potential candidates held and help them see how these matched up with those of the organisations.

Smith, who worked in the private sector before joining the Brain Tumour Charity, said she had been surprised to discover what great working environments charities could offer.

"You don’t know how amazing the charity is before you work there," she said. "We have a really talented team, we do amazing work, we’re agile, we’re nimble, we’re innovating. What we need to do is package that and share that with the rest of the talent market.

"I’m not sure we’re really doing that so well."

Smith said charities needed to devote more time to developing a strong employer brand: "We need to stop being so modest. I think you’ve got to cut above the noise, and a strong employer brand allows us to do that."

Arabella Chichester, partner and global head of non-profit practice at the recruitment company Perrett Laver, who also spoke at the event, said the lower salaries offered by the charity sector were not necessarily a deterrent to everyone.

"One of the blockers stopping talent coming into the sector is salary," she said.

"In our experience, people who are really genuinely passionate about moving into the sector don’t get swayed by the lower salary, but it’s factor that means there’s less of a talent pool than we might hope."

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