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DRiWaterstone Candidate Stories: Ron Estrada

At DRiWaterstone Human Capital, we have the opportunity to help exceptional clients fill roles that are integral to their ability to meet their strategic and revenue goals. We are also fortunate to have placed some of the best candidates working in the non-profit and social impact space.

Meet: Ron Estrada, CEO at Farmworker Justice

DRiWaterstone led the search that recruited Ron as CEO of  Farmworker Justice in March 2022. The national advocacy organization for farmworkers is based Washington, D.C., and works to empower farm and agriculture workers to improve their wages, working conditions, occupational safety, health, immigration status, and access to justice.

As CEO, Ron stepped into an organization “that needed an infusion of funds and a refreshed approach to how we were doing our work,” he says. And he’s already had the chance to make an impact – with bold ideas for change and some historical activations.

We recently sat down with Ron to catch up on his first few months in the new role, and learn more about his experience working with the DRiWaterstone team.

DRiWaterstone (DRiW): How are you enjoying your role?

Ron Estrada (RE): It has definitely met, and in some places exceeded, the expectations in terms of what the role entails as far as the opportunity to make an impact and drive results that move the needle for the farmworker community. That’s not always the case when you come into a new position. But taking a 40-year-old organization and having the opportunity to move it forward is something I was certainly looking forward to taking on, and it’s absolutely been what I expected and enjoyable.

DRiW: Describe your job search experience. What was it like working with the DRiWaterstone team?

RE: Without a doubt, there’s a significant, positive difference in working with an executive search firm. At DRiW, I felt there was a team genuinely representing me and supportive for my advancement.

There’s was an immediate connection and sense of trust. They gave me that sense of “I have someone here who’s calling it like it is and wants to see me succeed and be the best both for the organization and my personal growth.” The team was very attentive to detail and very communicative. It put me at ease and made me comfortable reaching out to the team with any questions. There was nothing that I heard from DRiWaterstone that made the role a surprise for me. It was very clear: finance and fundraising was going to be critical, there were going to be issues around leadership change (my predecessor was in the role for more than 33 years) so there were going to be some bumps that comes with such change.

DRiW: What surprised you most about your experience working with the DRiWaterstone team?

RE: I’ve worked with a handful of other search firms, but I felt right away that DRiWaterstone provided a sense of “this is real, it’s a true opportunity that you have in front of you and here’s what you need to do and our recommendations to best prepare you.” Others were more “we have a position open, would you or someone you know be interested?” So, it wasn’t really about me. With DRiWaterstone, it was a three-way communications platform – DRiWaterstone, me and the organization – and so I found that it was really well communicated what everyone’s needs were.

DRiW: What do you love about working in the non-profit/social impact sector?

RE: You really do get a chance to impact lives. My career trajectory has positioned me at the intersection of advocacy and social impact. I not only love what I do, but I truly believe I am at the right place at the right time. Representing communities that lack basic human rights and still remain largely invisible to the general public. I now have the opportunity to see my work be directed to a greater good, and that’s not often the case outside the non-profit sector.

DRiW: What advice do you have for other candidates looking to change roles in today’s job market?

RE: Number one it’s find an opportunity that you truly and genuinely care about. If you have the comfort and the flexibility to put salary and compensation aside and not make that the number one priority, definitely go with something you are passionate about. However, you also need to be true to yourself and ask the question, “Do I have the tools to elevate this position, and the wherewithal to make an impact and contribute?

I left a corporate position for a non-profit. A number of non-profits approached me, but it wasn’t until I saw Farmworker Justice and saw that they actually play this critical role in feeding the country and bringing food to tables, that many of the US farmworkers are still treated as invisible and with no dignity. I knew I could come in and make a difference. I felt this immediate connection. That’s what’s going to get you over those tough moments – where you’re having issues with unforeseen factors or just having a tough day. The fact that you’re working in a space you care about, that’s your north star.

The advice I got and advice I’d love to underscore for corporate to non-profit, especially the CEO, is be patient as you grow and do the appropriate assessments and reviews. That was advice DRiWaterstone gave and I certainly would validate it.

At DRiWaterstonewe have the pleasure to work with some of the best clients and candidates in the non-profit and social impact space. To learn more about how we can help you build high performance teams and drive growth, email us – we’d love to talk!

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By Jennifer Dunlap, President and CEO, DRiWaterstone Human Capital

As anyone who has ever taken on the responsibility of recruiting new talent for their organization knows, it’s not a simple task. From developing the role profile and vetting resumes, to interviewing candidates and negotiating offers, it’s a time intensive process that can be all-consuming.

According to LinkedIn, “76% percent of hiring managers admit attracting the right job candidates is their greatest challenge”. Add to that the potential cost of a bad hire (up to 30 per cent of the employee’s first-year earnings according to one estimate by the U.S. Department of Labor, not to mention lost time and productivity), and talent acquisition, especially for senior level and C-Suite roles, becomes not just a time-consuming endeavour but a risky one.

How can organizations take some of the risk out of senior-level recruitment? Engaging a retained executive search firm is one answer.

Why partner with a retained executive search firm

At DRiWaterstone Human Capital, we’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the past 20 years, successfully placing more than 1,000 candidates in senior and C-Suite roles across the non-profit and social impact space.  Here are five of the top reasons organizations choose retained search to support their talent acquisition efforts:

  1. We help you define (or refine) the role and the company’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP) in a way that will connect with candidates and enhance your reputation in the market
    A company’s EVP is the “set of benefits you offer employees in return for the skills, experience and qualities they bring to the position. In simple terms, what’s in it for them?” (Indeed.com) And according to Gartner, “[o]rganizations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%.” 

    Working with a retained search firm gives you access to the resources and expertise you need to put your organization’s best foot forward throughout the hiring process. Not only will a retained search firm take the time to understand the role, the dynamics of your organization and what makes your culture unique, they’ll work with your team to craft a message that highlights your purpose, your mission, and the unique value you offer to your team members.

    At DRiWaterstone, we work as an extension of your People and Culture team. That means that we treat your organization as our own – acting as brand ambassadors for your organization (not just an independent contractor) and treating your candidates with the upmost respect and transparency. Our Candidate Stewardship Model brings best practices from fundraising stewardship into executive search, giving one staff member the responsibility of addressing the needs of candidates as they go through the interview process – and making sure they have a positive experience with your organization and your brand, no matter the outcome.

    And when we hit a roadblock, we have the expertise and courage to provide frank guidance about what approach to take and what type of candidate will help drive your mission and your organization to the next level.
  2. We’ve got access to a huge network of candidates
    There are many reasons that organizations choose to work with a retained executive search firm, but number one is always our ability to find the best candidates. Whether your team doesn’t have the in-house capacity to take on another search, you don’t have the experience recruiting for senior level positions, or you’re looking for a purple unicorn to fill a challenging role, what executive search firms like DRiWaterstone bring to the table is a huge network of candidates.

    At DRiWaterstone, we’re focused on finding the best candidates for our clients – not just the best available candidates at the time your search hits the market. We have one of the largest networks of non-profit and social impact leaders among national executive search firms—and the largest single network of fundraising professionals. We know the professional associations that candidates belong to; we know the conferences they attend; and who is receptive to hearing about new and exciting opportunities. And with 70% of the global workforce made up of talent who isn’t actively looking for a new role (according to LinkedIn Top 100 Hiring Statistics 2022), those networks can make the difference between a successful hire, and a long, frustrating search.
  3. We invest resources into your search.
    We commit to devoting the necessary resources to identify, assess, and recruit the leaders you need – no matter how long that takes. We know time is of the essence, especially in today’s job market, but we take the time to find, interview and move forward candidates we feel will make an impact for your organization. By investing resources into your organization and your search, we can identify high-quality candidates who are both passionate about your mission and best suited to make ongoing contributions to your specific culture, plan, and day-to-day operations.

    Those resources are also focused on recruiting leaders to your organization. That means we when approach a candidate, it’s for your role and your role alone. We aren’t marketing candidates to whichever organization hires them first.
  4. We keep things moving
    Hiring for senior level roles can be a time-consuming process, and it’s easy for that process to stall because of competing projects or deadlines. Partnering with a retained executive search firm is an excellent way to keep your search on time, on budget, and on track.  We can help build candidates’ interest, keep their attention, and address their needs in a way that few organizations have the in-house resources to do.

    For example, at DRiWaterstone we can facilitate every element of interview preparation and evaluation. Our clients don’t have to juggle candidates’ schedules; they don’t have to prepare interview questions; and they don’t have to comb through a candidate’s record looking for key details. Our leaders are also available to join interviews or post-interview deliberations. And when a decision is made, we can be an honest broker in negotiating an employment agreement that will meet (and often exceed) the needs and expectations of both our clients and candidates.
  5. Our relationship doesn’t end with a signed offer letter
    The team at DRiWaterstone is committed to making sure things go well for both clients and candidates after a placement is complete. That means we’re in touch with candidates to help with the transition into their new role, and we’re in communication with our client to support them in onboarding their new team member.

    But building a high-performance team requires more than just making and onboarding the right hires. That’s why we offer leaders access to programs and tools that leverage the behaviours and attributes we know make the greatest impact on leadership, team, and organizational growth and performance.

Work with experts in recruiting and retaining talent

Working with an experienced executive recruitment team is a great way to keep your search on track and ensure you’re able to find and hire top talent who is aligned to your purpose and has the skills needed to help you meet your revenue and performance goals. DRiWaterstone Human Capital’s team has more than 20 years of experience working with mission and purpose-driven clients in the non-profit and social impact space. Book a call with one of our search experts today and let us help you win top candidates.

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