by MATT COBB
Law Enforcement Recruitment Strategist
If you’re struggling with “recruiting block,” consider these quick tips to get the creative juices flowing.
- Your agency needs a consistent recruiting and hiring message that employees know by heart. This should include a two-minute elevator pitch, an hour-long presentation and everything in between.
- Don’t recruit with disqualifiers. Tell stories, discuss benefits and working conditions, talk about the family they’ll be joining, the community they’ll be serving and what makes your agency great. Potential applicants should be captivated and inspired. The vision and hearing requirements won’t give anyone goosebumps.
- If your agency’s recruiting and hiring flyer looks like an IRS audit letter, it’s time for an update. Research the recruiting flyers from the most successful companies in the world. You won’t find one with 800 words in a bulleted format with intermittent bold, underlined, and highlighted content.
- Obscurity is the enemy of successful recruiting and hiring. You must generate buzz. Find ways to tell your story and engage potential applicants.
- Implement results-driven recruiting. Start tracking the success of your recruiting and hiring initiatives. Allocate more resources to what’s working and have the courage to cancel initiatives that aren’t.
- Create a steady stream of applicants from colleges and military bases.
- How to recruit at a college:
- Develop relationships with the faculty of preferred degree programs (don’t stop at Criminal Justice, and consider degree fields with low placement rates and starting wages).
- See if professors will let you talk to their students during class. The idea is that you need to hire cops, and the students need jobs when they graduate.
- Some professors may not be open to giving up class time so you can recruit. Start by asking if you can be a guest speaker during certain class topics, such as evidence collection, ethics, and report writing, to help contextualize that day’s topic. Once you’ve become a staple in the classroom and provided value for all the stakeholders, see if you can change gears and discuss recruiting.
- How to recruit at a military base:
- Develop relationships with the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) personnel as this is the program members must attend before separating.
- Most members joined out of high school, meaning most get out May-August.
- Set up recruiting and hiring presentations during the spring TAP classes.
- Return in a couple of weeks with your written and physical entrance tests.
- Congratulations, you have qualified applicants in your hiring process.
- Do your homework before giving a recruiting presentation. Tailor your message to the audience. At a military base, discuss how overtime works, the extra pay incentives and that they don’t have to get permission to go out of town. Don’t focus on how much they’ll pay for medical, dental, and vision care.
- Diversify your applicant pool by traveling — if you want to hire women and minorities, go to them. Use websites such as collegefactual.com to identify colleges with your target demographics.
- Recognize that it costs money to recruit talent and diversity and set your budget accordingly.
- Want to double your ranks? Task each employee with finding one qualified applicant to apply — it worked for the California Highway Patrol.
- Each employee is a 24/7 talent scout—supervisors should be asking their troops: “Do you know anyone better than you?”
- You will struggle to fill your ranks if your recruiting methods are the same as 20 years ago when 600 applicants were competing for 8 vacancies. Things are different now; your recruiting strategies should be too.
- Stop blaming generational differences on your recruiting and hiring woes. If no one is applying to your agency and everyone is leaving, it’s not a generational thing.
- Is your recruiting and hiring website user-friendly? Mobile friendly? Does it look like a Fortune 500 company jobs page or a neuroscience research paper? Your home or landing page should be easy to navigate with “Apply Now” and “Get in Touch” action buttons. No one should have to scroll nine times to apply.
- How to engage a potential applicant: gather intelligence by asking questions about her situation, family life, and interests. Use this opportunity to also build rapport. Now tailor your recruiting and hiring message to her wants and needs. “After talking with you, our agency is going to be a great fit because…”
- It’s time to start recruiting like college coaches. If you hear about a squared-away kid with a clean background working road construction, someone needs to go ask him what he’s doing with the rest of his life. And please schedule him for a ride-along.
- Who leaves your agency is more important than how many. If a bad cop leaves, it’s a good thing. If a good cop leaves, everyone feels it and other good cops may follow.
- Retention: Most agencies will not have a cultural shift overnight which fixes morale and other issues attributing to regrettable turnover. Instead, leaders can focus on reinforcing what motivates each employee. If an employee wants to be a K-9 handler, arrange to cross-train, help find beneficial classes and start mentoring.
- Want to find someone that wants to be a cop? Start speeding. Lateral transfers can help your agency quickly fill its ranks and bring valuable experience and diversity to your community.
- What happens when someone in your jurisdiction searches “law enforcement jobs” on the internet? Does your agency’s recruitment landing page appear? Did you know your agency can be moved to the top of the search results list? Your agency can also deliver your recruiting message to users based on their location and demographics—it’s called Geo-targeting and geo-fencing. Partner with a digital marketing firm to find out more.
About the Author
Sergeant Matt Cobb has served with the Topeka Police Department for 17 years. He currently administers the Topeka Police Academy. Sergeant Cobb is a Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baker University, maintains numerous law enforcement instructor certifications, and owns three businesses.