Now that departments are normalizing, the recruitment process has changed. Some departments were able to gain new members by pivoting their strategy and incorporating virtual information sessions and interviews. Other departments completely stopped their intake process and are now looking for ways to get back in the recruiting game. For the latter, know that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way organizations recruit, manage, and engage members.
It is universally known and accepted that most people use their phones and tablets to do everything from applying for jobs to reading recruitment and retention blogs. Below is a typical conversation departments and other recruitment and retention coordinators may encounter coming out of the COVID-19 fog.
Recruiter: You ever think about becoming a firefighter?
Lead: Yeah! My uncle is a firefighter.
Recruiter: You should come and do a ride-along with our station and see how you like it.
Lead: Sure, what do I have to do?
Recruiter: Let me email you the application and ride-along waiver. Please print both, sign
them, and bring them back to the station.
Show of hands who has a printer in their home? If your hand is up, (I see you!) I would guess you also have a landline telephone and a working DVD player. It’s okay if you do, but you must realize these tools are not as common as they were ten years ago. Here are a few things departments should be thinking about as we move forward in the world of recruitment and retention.
Embrace the Change
The way we recruit today is nothing like how we recruited two years ago. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2020, 98% of the 18–29-year-olds in the United States are active internet users. By embracing the change, your department can attract a new demographic of leads, and more likely, a younger audience. It’s easy to get caught up and wish things could go back to the past when the recruiting was more straight to the point. Look at it this way; if you hate change, you will hate being extinct.
When you create a recruitment announcement on Facebook, you can target it to a particular audience. Facebook provides options to pay for as much or as little visibility as you need. Those who use Indeed.com can manage their recruitment campaigns effectively without depleting their recruitment budgets and attracting applicants with particular skill-sets who could be an excellent fit for your department.
Are you still using spreadsheets to track recruiting, onboarding, training, and engaging members?
Organizations should consider utilizing volunteer management software, or customer relationship management (CRM) to support the recruitment process, manage, and retain members. First Arriving has developed a dynamic CRM designed for departments to use for all aspects of recruitment and retention.
Also, having an online application is the most effective and efficient strategy possible. The online application makes the process easy for the applicant, recruitment coordinator, and leadership to apply online instead of printing and mailing written applications and other documents.
Be Creative & Dynamic
Posting a job online or via social media platforms provides you the opportunity to be creative with your posts and job advertisements. Think about creating short videos showing off the apparatus, the camaraderie, and the benefits of joining your fire department.
Your creativity says a lot about your department’s culture and can help attract a younger demographic and specific types of applicants in the process. Departments that use technology in such a way prove that they are open to new and exciting ways of doing things and aren’t afraid to innovate.
Whether you are a senior member or just joined the station last year, the process has probably changed since you joined. For those departments who are hesitant to move, you will be wishing things were as easy as they are today five years from now. It would benefit you to embrace change and put your energy into what you need right now.
Not comfortable initiating or implementing any of the ideas above? No problem, First Arriving can develop and drive your recruitment and retention strategy, create compelling and dynamic marketing programs, map the application process, provide onboarding tools and help you track progression within your organization.