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Video Killed the Recruitment Star

OK, maybe that’s not how the song goes, but I have to thank my good friend Bill Schumm over at FireGeezer.com for doing my FireRECRUITER work for me.

In his February 17th Morning Lineup features (and updated on February 20th), he discusses and demonstrates the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of using video as a recruitment tool. While his perspective on why we face the recruitment and retention challenges we do are certainly part of puzzle, the value of his commentary lies in the subliminal call to action that we need to be more creative in creating the solutions.

Certainly, a recruitment video with appropriate visuals and a good, solid message can be effective, but FireGeezer proposes that we need to do something about our culture, our society, to inspire and perpetuate volunteerism. I couldn’t agree more.

However, I feel that before we can tackle the 300 pound elephant of societal viewpoints, we should first look inward at our own culture. No longer can we afford to act as a “secret society” — shunning those who don’t necessarily fit our traditonal demographic or the model of what a firefighter “used to be.” While we must certainly strive towards those who can embrace or already share our value system, reality is that those people come in different shapes and sizes, colors and backgrounds too.

We need to diversify our team and allow them to specialize in the areas best suited for their background, comfort zone and lifestyle. No longer can we only focus on whether or not the individual is meeting the needs of the fire department, we must constantly monitor whether or not the organization is meeting the expectations of the individual in order to ensure the survival and success of the volunteer fire service. FireGeezer highlights the work of a Minnesota paid-on-call fire system that has built a tremendous amount of flexibility into making their requirements achievable, and they clearly have their priorities straight: first family first.

As I’ve said before:

“Simply put, it’s my belief that the survival and success of the volunteer fire service relies on our ability to create more opportunities – for more people – to volunteer less time.

Our success depends on our ability to effectively plan for, lead and manage people; whether you don’t have enough – or you have more than you can handle.

The possibilities for their involvement are only limited by our imaginations.”
- Tiger Schmittendorf  – From: “A New Pyramid Scheme for your Volunteer Fire Department

And if you think a recruitment video or other campaign elements are right for your volunteer fire department, it’s not too late to get a SAFER grant application together. Even with less than a week left to apply, you already know what your chances of scoring a grant are if you don’t at least try: ZERO!

Oh yeah, and if you’re a member of a volunteer fire department in New York State, FASNY, your state firefighters association has big ideas on how to help you be more successful with a statewide recruitment campaign scheduled for April 21-22, 2012.

One of the original recruitment campaign themes promoted by the National Volunteer Fire Council’s 1-800FIRELINE program begged the question: “What if nobody answered the call?” Frankly I think that this out-dated scare tactic pitch no longer resonates with the general public. We are the ones who should be asking ourselves that – and the only question that really matters: “What are you gonna do about it?”

Ok, I’ll get down off my soapbox for now, let’s get back to the video. Here’s my top picks of effective recruitment video sites I’ve stumbled upon. What have you found?

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