As I have previously discussed, law enforcement actually practicing recruiting is a new phenomenon. Until recent years, there were always more qualified candidates than openings and while agencies typically “recruited,” the efforts had more to do with marketing their agency to already interested candidates.
Basically, it was law enforcement competing against law enforcement to get the most qualified police officer.
There is a real shortage of candidates today and many agencies have struggled to convert the traditional methods of marketing to recruiting individuals into the profession that are not already interested.
Social media is the low hanging fruit in recruiting, but it is much more complicated than simply posting a “wanted” image for police officers. The appearance and message displayed on social media has everything to do with whether time and money will be wasted or an actual candidate applies for a position.
SAFEGUARD Recruiting is the only recruiting agency owned and operated by law enforcement that focuses solely on recruiting for police agencies. This brings major advantages to the clients they serve, and the data of their campaigns show a distinct correlation with the how and why of a social media post and the ensuing success that an agency can expect.
It’s Not About Pay
It may surprise you that the highest engaged social media posts have nothing to do with pay and benefits. That is certainly important to potential employees but according to Jake Peters, SAFEGUARD Recruiting Director of Technology, posts about salary and benefits rarely get the attention that clients expect.
“Law enforcement agencies are proud of the benefit package they can offer recruits, but what current officers within an agency thinks will attract someone to their job, is often wrong,” according to Peters.
Much of this has to do with the generational gap of those in charge of agencies and who they are trying to recruit. When I started my career over three decades ago, I specifically remember wanting to know when I would be “topped out” in pay and what the retirement benefits were. But the assumption that a 21-year-old kid cares as much about that now would be wrong. In fact, research indicates that benefits matter but that has nothing to do with salary.
The Anaheim (CA) Police Department has a lot to offer to any potential recruit. I am impressed with their efforts on social media, which include a combination of telling the story of officers, comedy, and the benefits they offer.
But how can an agency, with sun shining 300+ days a year, in the heart of the happiest place on Earth (Disneyland), get the most return on investment with their time and resources on social media?
Check out the following posts from the agency.
The graphic design is phenomenal but it requires a potential recruit to take the extra step to go to the website. While I don’t know if a third party company is involved, marketing companies love to send “clicks” to their clients’ website and claim success but is this giving the agency actual applications?
Applicants should be the only driver of success with any recruitment effort.
It is very difficult to compete for eyes on any social media platform and requiring someone to click a few times or go to a browser may not be maximizing what could be achieved with social media recruiting.
This is an improved post that not only gives the website but benefits along with an image that portrays “opportunity” for the potential recruit.
But signing bonuses aren’t unique in law enforcement or the private industry.
This is not my favorite because few will take the time to digest it, but there is one benefit that should be combined with the positive aspects of the previous images, that will give the agency a major advantage with the social media approach to law enforcement recruiting.
Look Close…Do you see it?
3 Day Work Weeks!
When I started the job, I wanted to work seven days a week and I actually rode with others on my days off. But we aren’t recruiting Travis Yates in 1992 and it is very important to understand what recruits value.
Not only will a free vacation, 4 days a week, grab the attention of recruits, but few other agencies are offering this as a benefit.
Bang For Buck
I value what SAFEGUARD Recruiting is doing because they have made me better in this area and forced me to get out of own way when I discuss how agencies should be recruiting. Anaheim P.D. is in the top tier when it comes to their effort and focus on recruiting but I wonder if they are scratching their heads and asking why more aren’t applying?
Imagine a graphic that displayed the specialty unit officer combined with highlighting the time off given to the officer each week. Additional graphics could highlight the time off and show an officer taking classes (tuition reimbursement benefit), etc.
Rather than make someone go to the website, a link could automatically grab their information for a warm lead. That lead could generate an automatic reply with additional information with a follow up call within 24 hours from a recruit.
Recruiting Is Only Step 1
Doug Larsen, President of SAFEGUARD Recruiting, recently told me that they have had clients fall behind on engaging with the potential recruits they are sending them. In fact, one client told Larsen to stop sending names because they couldn’t keep up.
It’s a good problem to have and Doug believes that the automatic processes set up by his company, that engage immediately with the potential recruit, are playing a major factor in their success but that success can be soured if an agency is not ready for it.
Dr. Travis Yates is a commander with a large municipal police department and author of “The Courageous Police Leader: A Survival Guide for Combating Cowards, Chaos & Lies.” His risk management and leadership seminars have been taught to thousands of professionals across the world. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy with a Doctorate Degree in Strategic Leadership and the CEO of the Courageous Police Leadership Alliance.