How One Non-Profit Transformed Their Seasonal Hiring with SJM

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Client Overview

Customer Since


Candidates Sources


Annual Hires

35 – 45



The North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS) is a non-profit organization offering wilderness courses that change lives through challenge and discovery. Since 1967, their global expeditions, which range from 4-72 days, have stretched from the mountains of North Carolina to the peaks of South America. Due to the seasonal nature of NCOBS’s work, their team is always hiring for experienced wilderness educators along with supportive administrative and logistical staff.

The Challenge

When Devin Kearns took over the role of Staff Recruitment Manager in 2017, NCOBS’s hiring process was disjointed, time- consuming, and inefficient.Previously using Taleo, the team had turned to spreadsheets and inbox recruiting after finding the system too difficult to navigate. “It felt like you needed to be a programmer in order to function through the candidate database,” recalled Devin.

Like many nonprofits, the NCOBS team was also budget-conscious. Devin spent a significant amount of time posting roles individually to a variety of free job boards. As a result, the team was wasting time and still struggling to attract candidates, especially for their “Outward Bound Fellowship for People of Color,” a scholarship-to-work opportunity geared at creating a more diverse workforce and inclusive community. “We’d get 2-3 interested folks for the whole fellowship per hiring cycle,” he said. 

Without the help of any automation, NCOBS’s manual process also resulted in a poor candidate experience. This, in turn, impacted their employee retention. “We were seeing people come in and leave after a year.”

The Solution

Committed to driving NCOBS’s mission through an improved recruitment process, Devin began exploring new hiring solutions. After reviewing a few options, Devin chose to partner with SJM.

SJM’s partnerships with 15+ free job boards, in particular, also present a significant time-saving opportunity. “SJM’s integration with many free job- posting boards has saved hours and hours of time by auto-posting so I don’t have to do that on my own. This has led to a larger candidate pool, especially for harder-to-fill positions,” added Devin.

The Results

Since signing on with SJM in 2018, Devin and his team have been able to transform their recruitment process and reap the organizational benefits. By automating high-volume tasks like posting to job boards, NCOBS saw a 20% increase in qualified applicants during their first year alone with SJM. Specifically, Devin saw a 400% increase in applications for their “Outward Bound Fellowship for People of Color,” which had been a hard-to-fill position. The quality of those applicants also improved, resulting in higher retention rates. “With so many more people available to vet for the opportunity…I still have folks from that fellowship who stuck around.”

Thanks to SJM, Devin was able to make the candidate experience more cohesive and consistent. “100% of candidates are followed up with…I know exactly where each person is in the process, when I last communicated with them, how they stack against other candidates,” he said.

Their seasonal hiring surge, which can consist of close to 40 new staff members in a 3 month period every winter is now not only manageable, but successful. “SJM has really helped us add consistency and clarity in our hiring process while making the management of applicants, interviews, and candidate data all much more intuitive for hiring managers and department heads.” 

Besides the quantifiable benefits, Devin also values the SJM team’s personable approach. “I’ve found SJM to be a great organization that’s easy to contact and genuinely cares about their customer service. And that is hard to find these days.”

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