Recruitment and retention are often the single most important objectives for fire departments around the nation. Unfortunately, recruitment efforts are often combatted by tight budgets, incredibly busy schedules, and most notoriously, a failure to connect with the younger generation. It can be an overwhelming project to take on and balance while you’re actively trying to serve and protect.
The volunteer firefighter experience is challenging, rewarding, and imperative to the safety of the community. Our goal at 9-ONE-1 Marketing is help your department connect with, inspire, and attract the right candidates that fit your culture and mission. Below, we’ve compiled 3 recruitment strategies for your department to help you both gain new recruits and keep the current ones.
You may have heard before that social media is the most important part of any fire department recruitment and retention plan in the 21st century. The fact is, the people you are looking to recruit, (namely millennials and Gen X), are spending more time online than ever before. Clearly, you’ll need to reach these people in a way that’s relevant and meaningful. The question is, how do you do that?
Personal: Recruitment cannot be successful if your social channels are only posting content that includes “sign-up now” or “volunteer today.”. While these phrases are very important, you also need to introduce your current volunteers, celebrate relevant holidays, and post photos from events or training sessions. Seeing behind the curtain could really influence a new recruit to join.
Engage: Ask questions to your audience and gauge their interest level in volunteering. Social media is often a great starting point to introduce your brand and your team to someone. Make sure that you are timely and personable in responding to any comments or questions they may have.
Call to Action: For every marketing objective, there should be content that includes a CTA (Call to Action). LinkedIn, (a popular social platform mostly used for finding new careers), can especially be a great tool to get the most out of recruitment posts because you’re able to connect with those who are actively seeking for a new journey.
An incentive program fulfills both parts of a fire department recruitment and retention plan. Firstly, it acknowledges, recognizes, and rewards individuals who are making significant impacts for your department in your communities. Your current employees will feel satisfied knowing that their decision to serve has been recognized. On the other hand, when you are showcasing your volunteers, you could be simultaneously inspiring a new recruit. This both shows that you appreciate your people and you’re making a concerted effort to show the community that.
As we continue to become fully immersed in social media realms, people still seem to crave human interaction, physical visualizations, and real-time connections. As social media should remain the main focus of your firefighter recruitment strategies, it’s important to incorporate accompanying marketing tools beyond the screens.
Posters and signage are still significantly underutilized for marketing purposes in the current era. Brochures, and other promotional materials, can offer immediate and continuous exposure. It’s important that you select the appropriate locations to put your signage based on your intended recruitment demographics. College campuses are a good starting point, and local gyms tend to harbor young, fitness-oriented individuals who make great candidates for firefighting. These are also great places to set up tents or booths with custom signage and relevant new member guides and paperwork.
As you can see, a successful firefighter recruitment strategy works best when all marketing efforts are intertwined and complementary to each other. 9-ONE-1 Marketing is a full-service first responder marketing service with decades of experience in recruitment. We specialize in sharing your stories and messaging to the people who could be the next ones to wear your department badge. Call us today to connect with the next generation at (484) 673-0385.