Webinar presenter Michael Parker answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Creating a Constant Stream of Recruits. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Can you give us insights and how to handle those internet trolls or the negative comments that we see in our social media accounts?
Michael Parker: Sure. Well, that’s both our recruitment question and a social media question. It’s a good one. I can tell you that unless you have some experience in that I would not take chances initially, okay? Typically the if it’s a one comment person. You let it go. We have to be careful because in government you can’t delete those. A key thing you can do one is have a takedown policy already posted on your social media that says under these circumstances we’ll take it down. If it’s on Facebook, you would hide it, not delete it. You have to be really careful because of constitutional rights, people have freedom of speech to make such comments. But if you have somebody who’s repeatedly commenting saying especially saying the same thing if you have your takedown policy that provides those constraints, you could leave up there one comment, they had their ability to speak their mind and make their criticism but on repeated comments then hide those comments because they did have their opportunity to speak their negativity about you. So that’s kind of quick response actually I have a lot more to say, I hope that was something to get you going for now.
Audience Question: You talked about Millennials who born from roughly 1982 to 1996. The oldest would be 40 and the youngest would be about 24, but we have this generation of Generation Z coming up, who the oldest are really in their early to mid-20s. What is your experience? How does this generation differ from their older siblings? And how do these tactics that you’re describing work with them?
Michael Parker: Well, I’ll say a couple things one is they’re more technologically savvy which most of us older folks know that but the problem is that they assume a more experienced people as a nicer way of putting it is that as more experienced people assume that their technologically savvy about everything why would say is keep in mind that if it’s something familiar to them. So, if your mobile digital computer in your car is based upon technology that’s similar to what they’re currently using, they’re going to learn a lot faster. So, you want to make sure when you share and share information do you think don’t create yet another system they have to use. But again, technologically savvy from a recruiting standpoint. Actually, the thing that comes out to mind more than anything else is they demand diversity. The incoming employees, these younger folks demand diversity. They demand fairness. So you need to be very aware of that and I think that’s a wonderful thing that the incoming generation doesn’t really get credit for they have an expectation that you will treat all employees, men, women, of all ethnicities that you will treat them with fairness and equality. That is something that you need to make sure is reflected in your literature and your and whatever you’re representing graphically and through your recruitment strategies. Those are a couple of quick answers.
Audience Question: Follow-up to that one. One of the things that we’ve heard about Generation Z is that, given that a number of the older ones can clearly remember the Great Recession, Generation Z tends to skew towards safer, secure jobs, and they tend to be very rational in terms of job choices, focusing on benefits, retirement, stability, those kinds of things. Is this your experience?
Michael Parker: You know, it’s a really good question. And I think the jury’s still out on that. I think that what they really want is they want to have a say in the organization and a say on what they’re going to do. If they do not, if they are not and you’ll find this in these booklets that I referenced. If they do not have the ability to have their voice be heard in the organization, they’ll leave. Your older employees will ROD, they’ll retire on duty because they just come from a generation that you know, they didn’t really have that expectation that they’re going to be listened to. But the younger employees they will leave and they won’t even necessarily go to another agency. They just leave the profession altogether. So if you’re working for an agency and remember, the best recruiters are your own people so they will tell applicants, family members, friends and so on, “Hey, you know what, you’d get an opportunity in his organization to be heard.” Tactile recruitment strategy is really primarily created by the younger employees. We have helped groups where employees, a group of dispatchers, a group of bailiffs, they get together and they essentially advised of sorts and management, you know things that are of concern. Like childcare, and a lot of us of our senior people kind of throw up our hands like well, it’s nothing I can do about childcare. Oh really? That’s the intake from the younger employee. Oh, yeah, you can do something. You’re just okay. Well then turn it back to those younger employees and say, “Help us come up with a strategy on what we can do.” Don’t just take it all on your back involve them. They want it, they want it.
Audience Question: Is using print newspaper ads at all a viable option anymore for recruitment?
Michael Parker: Well, I would probably that would have been a great polling question actually. People on the phone, when was the last time you picked up a print newspaper. I don’t think really newspaper because the average age of a subscriber to the Los Angeles Times, which I think is the third-largest circulation for a newspaper in the United States, the average age of a person who subscribes to whole week daily home delivery is 74 years old. And if you look at the classified ads in the newspaper, if they’re tough to find. So, it’s those online ads and I talked about just touched on search engine optimization and frankly. This is really a topic as far as how you go about advertising on the internet today, which is going to be your better avenue. That sounds like something you’d be included in the next webinar in greater detail. But so, to answer your question — I’m not real thrilled about newspaper ads. But, in specialized publications such as athletic and college publication that’s potentially an Avenue because you’re specifically targeting the demographic of the folks that would be most likely to apply.
Audience Question: We obviously need to attend and show interest, but do you think college career fairs are as are effective or does it seem today that most people really have done their research and know where they want to go and it’s not as effective finding people who want to get their foot in the door somewhere at like that going to a career fair. So what do you what’s your take on Career Fairs?
Michael Parker: I got to compliment this question again. Each of these questions has been really good and shows that you’re really thinking about this and strategizing on this which is great to hear. One of the things I believe is that you can’t just rely on your digital recruitment. You’ve got to have humans out there meeting people talking to people. Your appearance is not necessarily going to generate names and phone numbers and emails on the spot. But you need to be seen, if you’re not seen in real life, is digital-only than a really going to do it for you? That I don’t think so. So remember those legacy types of recruitment like billboards that get your agency out there. They may not call that phone number right then they’re driving, they probably shouldn’t be calling. But you’re embedding in their mind your agency, you’re branding your agency. You’re putting it in their head. My theory is for people who hadn’t already decided to become a peace officer early in life. And these are more so folks that you’re trying to encourage them to join. I think and what we’ve seen is they need to see multiple mentions, multiple things. Bus benches, and billboards and things that keep reminding them and these ads online and so on. So, the answer is yes. I do believe in going to those College fairs. I’ll bet you the person that asked that question was asking that question is because they really don’t get that many names at those conferences. I know our people didn’t. Well, the one person sitting at the computer the recruitment social media recruitment dispatcher is getting 10 20 times as many people they’re talking to. And you and you know that reminds me something that I don’t think I emphasized is you need to interact with these people that are expressing interest. You post a video or an ad on Instagram or Facebook and they make a comment you have to reply. If you don’t you’re just broadcasting, you’re just talking at them. If you reply to them on those social media systems, now, you’re building a relationship and you talk back and forth and then maybe go on a one-on-one messaging and then encourage them to give them the name of the recruiter that they could call the phone number and talk to. That interactive, social media experience is critical and I guess that was number 6 on your list and I didn’t emphasize that so I’m glad your comment made me think of it.
Christina: I’m going to piggyback here on something you just said. As a former university professor, I had a number of employers approaching me asking, “Who’s that next up-and-coming student? Who’s that person we should be talking to? Who’s that student who’s ready for a job opening, an internship, those kinds of things.” So, at least in my experience, reach out to some of those university professors, because they certainly know their students.
Michael Parker: Absolutely and getting invited to speak at that professor’s class. That’s a big plus. And if you’re on the Sheriff’s Department you’re sitting in the room full of students and you can tell them that shortcode that we showed you and you can get in their phones as they sit there listening to you.
Christina: And a lot of college students will find that a presentation in a classroom where it’s just them and 20 other of their peers are going to find that less threatening than a career fair.
Michael Parker: Sure, they may bring up odd things. Like how do I get out of my traffic ticket? And how do you feel about this newsworthy incident yesterday? But that just goes with the territory.
Audience Question: My agency won’t spend any money on recruiting. I post an ad on social media every single week. What else can I do to get more applicants besides using social media?
Michael Parker: Well, this is an hour or two-hour long answer. I did mention several things. But like you said without the money you can, if you have time, you can go to the job fairs, colleges, put flyers up at athletic gyms where people work out. Think about who are you trying to hire. But those personal appearances sounds like a lot of what you’d be doing. But on social media again, with no budget at all, it’s pretty tough because Facebook, for example, even though you like a Facebook page or someone has liked your Facebook page, estimates from the groups that I belong to that are part of public information officer groups and people that are dealing with this issue. We estimate that only about 3% of the people who like your Facebook page will actually see it unless you spend some money to cause it to be opened up to more people. This is how Facebook makes money. So I think I answered part of your question the rest I think I’ll need more time.
Audience Question: How can we convince leadership that recruitment is important enough to actually have designated recruiters.
Michael Parker: You know, what I have found from working entry-level ranks that I did up to the rank of Commander is money talks. So, I would recommend if you haven’t done this already look at your current vacancies and what are they costing you. The first couple of vacancies are not a problem because management sees that as hey I can use this salary and employee benefits savings from not filling that position. I can use that money to hire overtime for those shifts and times a day where people don’t want to actually work, but they’ll do it for time and a half. So what you do is you do a cost-benefit analysis, and that’s part of my background in finance, is that you look at what is it costing us to not fill these positions and what would we gain by filling those positions? And then you link that to the fact that those positions are not to be magically filled. It requires a dedicated recruitment person or at least enough time in any given week that you could act on the kinds of things that we’ve been talking about today. That’s my quick answer.
Audience Question: You talked about shortcodes. Isn’t that kind of expensive?
Michael Parker: You know, it really depends? These shortcodes depend upon how many people are using it. So the larger the jurisdiction the more it would cost. Nixle, they don’t really do shortcodes by themselves. It’s part of their texting email system that’s available throughout the United States, but there are marketing companies that I’m sure could connect you with that. So again, it depends on the size of your agency the smaller it is, the more affordable it is. What you’re going to want to know is how many people are going to use the shortcode because the way they pay their bills or the way they get built, it’s how many text messages and how many people is that message reaching. So if you’re from a mega-agency, bills going to be higher, but you got a bigger budget. So, I don’t want to say a number because the size of the organizations that are on this webinar right now vary so much. I don’t want to mislead you.
Audience Question: You talked about videos. How long should they be?
Michael Parker: Oh, wow, that’s a great question. And that’ll be in the next webinar. But the videos, if you look at those videos that I showed you how long were they? I can tell you when we set it up or the recruitment deputies the LA Sheriff’s over four, five years ago. I told them I gave him some criterion to work off of and then let them do their thing and they did such a phenomenal job. The best thing I could do. With what they were doing was get out of their way. I see that management people are online, get out of the way and stop using the word professional to kill creativity. And I’m not talking about silliness. There’s a difference between silly and not professional and so the one answer is on the length is I said 59 seconds or less. Why? because at 59 seconds Instagram cuts off so you don’t want to cut off the last two seconds of your video. And ultimately, is really experts will tell you they ought to be 30 seconds. But if you say that if any given most people their head will explode. Now, if you’re going to do something more elaborate like the entire application testing process. Well, you know, maybe you’re going to make a longer video because there’s a lot more information that has to be imported or you can break that up. But if you look in those videos of the LA Sheriff’s Department’s making, less there 59 seconds or less.
Audience Question: What are your thoughts on offering signing bonuses versus maybe let’s say a student loan repayment plan. What are your thoughts on those types of benefits?
Michael Parker: You know often those signing bonuses are from agencies looking to hire laterals from other agencies. So they’re saying hey, you know, if you sign with us and we’ll, you know, leave the agency or at and come to ours. There are several states in the United States that if you recruit someone from another police agency from another state, you have to pay the receive training academy bill for them because you just rob that other agency of that time. In California, and many of most other states, they don’t do that. But I’ll bet you as time goes by more and more going to figure that out and do it but these recruitment bonuses, you know, it really depends. Sometimes it gets people’s attention.
But again, most of them seem like they’re for getting laterals and as a general rule, I don’t really get into one agency can rob another, I focus on how do you get your own recruits. But I can’t tell you I have seen it to be effective in getting lateral hires. But it also, it can alienate your current employees because they didn’t get that money and also, are you really getting the person you want because there’s a whole group of officers now that they’re bouncing from agency to agency kind of like mercenary. Like every other year, there was a different agency in the same state, as long as they can stay in the same retirement plan. They keep doing that and they’re just chasing who’s paying the most. I just don’t think I’m sure that there’s lots of great officers that are doing that but I’m just suspicious that that might not be the employee that you’re looking to be there.
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