A New Way of Hiring

ZIM’s hiring process has changed dramatically over time. In January 1, 2020, as part of its strategic plan, ZIM formed an IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility) Committee focused on inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility, comprising staff members at all levels of the organization who volunteer to participate. The Committee identified areas of improvement, including the hiring process to make it more equitable and to attract a more diverse candidate pool. Recommendations included dropping educational requirements, involving peers in the interview process, using standard questions and candidate rubrics, advertising the open positions on job boards catering to diverse communities, and encouragement for diverse candidates to apply in the job descriptions. Additionally, we added our IDEA statement and values to our website for public access and include IDEA-focused questions in the interviewing process. Finally, we had realized that we were favoring candidates who applied earlier over those who might be the best. We also learned that diverse candidates often apply later in the cycle. To address this, we now group and prioritize candidates at several milestones throughout the process. Committed to organizational learning, we continually evaluate our recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes, making adjustments to improve equity and efficacy.

In December 2023, ZIM decided to fill two Grant Researcher and Writer positions. This position is generally entry level, for individuals with fewer than two years of experience. We posted on Andrew Hudson’s List, LinkedIn, Indeed, and on our website. To apply, we requested a cover letter, a resume, and a writing sample, because this is a writing-intensive position. The post remained active for four weeks, and we received 219 resumes from candidates!

To identify candidates to advance to screening calls and interviews, we started by declining candidates who did not submit a completed application apart from five, whose materials looked promising but were missing one of the required application elements. Four were people who come from underserved communities, and one candidate was a Ukrainian refugee with some grant writing experience. For these five, we personally reached out to request the missing item and provided a week’s deadline to respond. Two responded with complete application materials. We then separated the remaining candidates into sub-groups: Those with less than two years of previous experience, those with transferable skillsets but no experience, those with many more years of experience, etc. Ultimately, we narrowed the list to 40 candidates with the desired skillsets and experience, and chose to screen 21, prioritizing identified skills, experience, diverse identities, and employee referrals.

Of those we chose to screen, demographically, 62% of candidates identified as BIPOC, 33% as white and 5% as other; Candidates represented multiple intersecting identities, including multiple faiths and religious backgrounds, age-diversity, genders, and disabilities. Three identified as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, three were men (the majority of grant professionals are women), one was an international candidate and former ZIM intern, one with a stated disability, and another returning from a health-related work hiatus. Since ZIM has remote workers, the finalists resided across the US in states such as Massachusetts, Texas, New York, Iowa, and Hawaii as well as across the state of Colorado. Ten were from the initial applicant group, and 11 were from the later applicant group.

Through this most recent hiring process, two amazing and extremely qualified candidates joined ZIM’s team. One is a person of color, and the other is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Before participating in CIE, we were not as deliberate and intentional with our hiring processes. Now we know that we can be better if we put in more effort. The effort was well worth the outcome.

Exploring Opportunities: Our Internship Path

Over the years, we have occasionally hired interns, and these experiences have always been valuable for both parties. This summer our goal is to formalize ZIM’s internship program and develop a comprehensive internship curriculum. This initiative will integrate into our hiring strategy, ensuring that our internships are structured, purposeful, aligned with our organizational goals, and a potential pathway to employment. The idea behind this was to engage candidates as interns, giving them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with our operations and broad services, letting them choose their path depending on their interests. ZIM’s track record shows significant success with interns, many of whom transitioned into full-time positions at ZIM.

This internship program also enables participants to gain practical experience in their respective fields, while also acquiring essential teamwork and writing skills, among other skills. We recognize the value-add of interns, and ZIM remains committed to offer paid internships.


From September 2006 – December 31, 2019, ZIM hired 48 staff members, 5 of whom were people of color (10.4%). Only one was ever promoted.

From January 1, 2020 – today, ZIM has hired 40 additional staff members, 10 of whom identify as BIPOC (25%). The one person promoted before 2020, has since been promoted to a VP at the organization, and another person has been promoted twice since starting in 2021. Others have significant roles in the organization such as helping with professional development and co-running the IDEA committee.

March 15, 2024