Get Schooled on Recruiting High Schoolers

A recent online message from a firefighter friend prompted me to publish the recruitment insight I shared with him:

Hey Tiger, I’m looking for help with our Recruitment and Retention Efforts . In the past few months we have lost a decent amount of younger members who have moved on in life to college, moving out of the family home etc.. We are going into our high school to talk to them about our organization and to try to recruit some new members.

I was looking for some suggestions from you on how to make the best possible impression on them and make them want to get out and join. We used to do this program in the past, with marginal success.

I don’t know if you’re going to have a recruitment table in the school, be part of a larger career fair or just be hanging out but, off the top of my head here are some ways to connect with what I’ve dubbed the Xbox Generation:

  1. Send your remaining younger members to do the recruiting. Involve them now and ask what it’s going to taketop-10-rr-tips-cheat-sheet-combo_page_2 to motivate their age group. Nobody is better at recruiting their peers than they are.
  2. Make it as interactive and fun as possible.
  3. Read and share my post on “The Art of Speed-Recruiting” from
  4. Make sure your youthful recruiters are engaging – not wallflowers.
  5. Accompany them and show them how it’s done. They may need adult supervision!
  6. Set a target goal and create a friendly competition and/or incentives for recruitment success stories.
  7. Hype it up and market it before you get there. Create a competitive advantage. Motivate them to come looking for you. Your chances of “closing the sale” increase exponentially when you can get them to come to you vs. you needing to seek them out.
  8. Study my Recruiter’s Cheat Sheet and practice your ‘elevator speech’ to gain and grasp their attention and interest in 60 seconds or less.
  9. Remember that the greatest expectation of this Xbox generation is to be given CLEAR expectations. Challenge them to meet your expectations.
  10. Always be, and look for the person you would want to serve with – or be saved by.

And when thinking about which students would be a good fit for your organization: aim high! Don’t just take somebody because they happen to walk upright and currently have a pulse. Warm-body based recruiting costs everyone in the long run.

Seek to attract team players (sports), eggheads (higher GPA) and multi-taskers (already belong to clubs, sports, extra-curricular/community involvement). Most importantly, take the time to evaluate if the student is a good candidate, truly capable of doing well in school AND being a volunteer firefighter; remembering that their schooling needs to be everyone’s priority. We want to create opportunities for success – not set up a system for failure.

Hopefully that’s a to-do list long enough to inspire you to-do recruiting in local colleges and high schools to motivate (and even middle schools if you’re looking for Fire Explorer-age) young people to join your organization.

And, if it’s not, click or call me today: