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Executive Director's Report August 2018: Recruiting Ideas

These days, finding strong, solid candidates to assume the responsibility of handling critical campus public safety jobs is reaching a new level of difficulty. There are fewer candidates, and other agencies may be in active recruitment mode.  Sometimes public safety departments can be their worst enemy with lengthy processes and lots of hoops, losing good candidates to agencies with more streamlined processes. 

When I arrived at the University of Wisconsin - Madison it took us 26 weeks to hire a police officer—not a typo!  To enhance our chances of recruiting top-tier candidates, we instituted a rolling selection process, instead of an annual test. We examined every part of the process and reduced the time from start to finish in 12 weeks. Subsequently, we realized that was too fast, so we recalibrated and settled for 16 weeks. Being 10 weeks faster meant we could beat the city and county processes. We could align ourselves with the police academy start dates, drop back 16 weeks, and know that is when we needed to start.  Because we were faster, we often snagged the best candidates.   

Recently the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) held a Town Hall style meeting and asked police chiefs about the recruiting challenges they face and the solutions they have developed.  Since most campus directors and chiefs are too busy to read long reports—but you value quick-hitting, effective ideas—I thought I would spend this column giving you the highlights. 

  • Carefully analyze your process and identify the points where you lose good candidates
    • Is your application something that is reasonable to complete?
    • Check your physical fitness test for gender bias
    • Background checks must be reasonable
      • Use of marijuana is now legal in several states
      • High debt among young people is often the result of college loans
      • Check the background investigator for gender bias
      • Be selective about polygraph use
  • Evaluate your oral boards values
  • Increase diversity
    • Recruit directly from an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) near you
    • Partner with the Urban League to help recruit
    • Recognize that family issues can play a role and be ready to work with promising candidates
  • Try rolling recruitment
    • Openly recruit all the time
    • If you see a candidate you are interested in—make him or her an offer
    • Target your recruitment—don’t just go to technical colleges
  • Offer a bonus, if possible

Thanks to our sister organization PERF for holding these forums and sharing the results.  We can all learn from each other.  Always Forward.



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