It finally happened. Your board approved a budget that would allow you to get some long-needed help. You want a general assistant. But your board thinks you would be better off with someone with a specific skill set–such as a marketer, membership salesperson, or a legislative person. Everyone wants the new addition to be a strong contributor to chamber success. But what’s the best way to make the most of the new hire? That depends mainly on your chamber goals but there are other factors. Here are a few ways to help make the best decision during the chamber hiring process.
Should You Hire a Full-time or Part-time Chamber Staffer
The answer to this question likely comes down to budget so it will probably be answered for you. However, if you’re trying to decide, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you make an informed decision between bringing on a full-time or part-time chamber employee:
- Assess Your Needs:
Start by thoroughly evaluating your chamber’s needs. Consider the tasks and responsibilities that require attention, short-term and long-term. Are there specific projects, ongoing roles, or seasonal work that needs to be addressed that you haven’t had time to give your full attention? Are there things that would be game changers for the chamber if only they had a supporter? What could you do with assistance that would change outcomes for your members or recruitment?
- Budget Constraints:
Understand your budget limitations. Determine how much you can allocate to this position, including salary, benefits, and any other associated costs like workspace, equipment, or training expenses. This is where your decision of full-time or part-time chamber employee may be made for you. But if not, keep going.
- Workload and Hours Required:
Analyze the workload and hours required to fulfill the role. Full-time employees typically work around 40 hours a week, while part-time employees work fewer hours. Be realistic about what can be accomplished within these time frames. Sometimes shorter time frames under five hours a week are more difficult because they require projects that can either be completed in a short period of time or stopped and started.
- Flexibility and Scalability:
Consider whether your chamber’s needs are likely to change in the near future. Full-time employees offer more stability and commitment, while part-time employees provide flexibility. Think about whether you need the ability to easily scale up or down like in the case of a large event or initiative.
- Skill Set and Expertise:
Determine whether the role requires specialized skills or expertise (we’ll get into this in the next section). Some positions may benefit from a full-time specialist like a member salesperson, while others can be handled by a part-time generalist like a personal assistant.
- Long-Term Goals:
Reflect on your chamber’s long-term goals. A full-time hire might align better with your strategic objectives if you plan to grow or undertake significant projects like workforce development. Part-time hires can be more suitable for temporary or lower-priority tasks such as cleaning up databases or launching email campaigns.
- Recruitment Challenges:
Assess the local job market and your ability to attract talent. In some communities, it is easier to find qualified part-time candidates than a full-time commitment. Listen to what your members have experienced in their hiring. You may find that a virtual position is easier to place than an in-office one.
- Legal and Regulatory Considerations:
Research labor laws and regulations in your area. Different regions may have specific rules regarding part-time vs. full-time employment, including benefits and legal obligations. This is especially true of freelancers (if you decide you need someone on a more flexible basis).
- Employee Benefits:
Consider the benefits you can offer. Full-time employees generally expect a comprehensive benefits package, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. What are you able to offer to be considered an employee of choice in your community? If your benefits are not competitive, you will need to find another marketable reason to join the chamber such as “meet VIPs.”
- Trial Period:
If you’re unsure what you need or if you’re in the middle of a rebranding/retooling of your chamber, consider starting with a part-time employee on a probationary basis. This allows you to assess whether the workload justifies a full-time role and whether the employee is a good fit for your organization.
- Consult with Key Stakeholders:
Involve key decision-makers and stakeholders in the hiring process. Get their input on the type of hire that best aligns with the organization’s goals and resources. Your board should not be involved in interviewing the candidates if the position is reporting to you. However, some Chamber CEOs involve the Board Chair and the Executive Committee. If you do that, know that you are setting a precedent for them to be involved in the daily administration and that is not their place or skill.
- Evaluate Cost-Benefit Analysis:
Finally, conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Compare the expected contributions and outcomes of a full-time hire against those of a part-time hire, factoring in all costs and potential benefits. For instance, if you don’t have the kind of projects that can be completed quickly or be worked a little bit at a time, a part-time person may get frustrated with you (and you with them) because you’ll be finishing everything they start when they max out their weekly hours.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Your decision should be based on the unique circumstances and needs of your chamber. It’s essential to carefully consider your options, prioritize your objectives, and choose the employment arrangement that best serves your organization’s mission and financial constraints.
So, what skills do you need in your new chamber hire? Should you look for a can-do attitude or proven skills?
Tips for Hiring a Part-Time and Full-Time Chamber Employee
Your budget is tight. If this if your first chamber hire, you want to make sure you select the right type of person. Chamber life isn’t for everyone. We’ll explore the considerations and strategies for making the right choice to maximize your budget’s impact and get the best return on your new hire.
The Part-Time Dilemma
When you find yourself with just enough budget to hire one part-time person, the key is to make every hour count. Here’s what to look for:
A part-time hire needs to wear many hats. Seek candidates with a diverse skill set who can handle various tasks such as event coordination, social media management, and administrative work. This versatility will help you get the most out of their limited hours.
While skill versatility is important, so is mental (or task) agility. It’s important for them to have varied skills but also to be able (and willing) to switch between them. For instance, you don’t want to hire someone for their varied background who only wants to work in marketing going forward.
Although they’re part-time, you want someone who’s genuinely committed to your chamber’s mission. Look for candidates who express enthusiasm for the work. Ideally, they’ll be eager to have a meaningful impact on the chamber, its programs, and your community.
Chamber work often revolves around building relationships with local businesses and stakeholders. Hire someone who can network effectively and expand your chamber’s connections.
Having someone who’s comfortable with technology is a huge asset. They can streamline processes, manage online platforms, and assist with digital marketing efforts.
Part-time employees must be proactive self-starters. They should be capable of taking the lead on projects and be efficient in their use of time. If you have to give them assignments, and you’re in a meeting, you don’t want them waiting with nothing to do until you get out.
Qualities of a Great Full-Time Chamber Hire
If you have the opportunity to hire a full-time employee with a limited budget, you can delve deeper into specialization. Here’s what to consider for a full-time chamber hire:
With a full-time role, you can hire for a specific skill or expertise. Depending on your chamber’s needs, you might want a marketing guru, event planning specialist, or membership engagement (or sales) expert. Choose someone who excels in a particular area to bring depth to your team.
Look for candidates who not only meet the job requirements but also show leadership potential. Someone who can grow within the organization and eventually take on more responsibilities as the budget allows is a valuable long-term investment.
Strategic Thinker or Curious Learner:
In a full-time role, strategic thinking is crucial. The employee should be able to plan and execute long-term initiatives that align with your chamber’s goals, helping you achieve sustainable growth.
If you’re looking for more of a beginning role with your chamber, a strategic thinker may not be necessary. However, finding someone who is curious and enjoys learning will help you immensely. You want someone who wants to learn new things such as learning about your ideal member and their needs, your community, etc.
Since most chambers rely on membership dues and sponsorships (at least to some extent), a full-time hire with fundraising experience can help secure additional resources to support your initiatives.
Whether you’re considering a part-time or full-time hire, you want someone who will have a positive impact on your chamber and your members. By carefully evaluating your needs and the candidate’s qualifications, you can make the most of the resources available. Remember that hiring the right person, even on a tight budget, can lead to substantial returns in terms of chamber growth and success.