Successful Recruitment Is More Than an Ask

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There’s not a council or district in the BSA that doesn’t need additional commissioners. Recruiting is a year-round process: We should continually be looking for candidates. But once one is identified, what’s next? Successful recruiting is far more than just asking someone to serve.


Successful recruitment begins with a vision: How will you— and the person you’ve identified—know if he or she has been successful? Increasingly, we have metrics available to identify where unit service work is needed. Those metrics can also help measure progress—and success. Before making an ask, write down, specifically, what success will look like. And make a reasonable estimate of how much time it will take to fulfill the responsibilities in question. The best candidates will ask you about both; be prepared to answer.


We’ve all heard it: If we find work we love, we’ll never work another day in our life; that’s passion! Our dedicated volunteers are passionate about Scouting, but when you get down to the details, they’re not all passionate about the same things. Some really want to be on the front lines and work directly with the kids, but that may mean helping them work on merit badges, or taking them backpacking, or perhaps teaching them to swim. Dedicated Scouters understand the importance of unit service, but not all of them have a passion for it. A bit of homework will help identify a candidate’s passion; if it doesn’t match with your vision, the chances of successful recruitment drop significantly.


Passion is one thing; potential is something entirely different. While perhaps hard to understand, some people have a passion for something they’re not particularly good at. This requires homework on your part: What is your candidate really good at? Does it match up with your vision? If so, your chances of success rise dramatically.


Strange as it sounds, we don’t always control our priorities. A candidate with both passion and potential for the work you need done may have 6-month-old twins at home or may have recently accepted a promotion that will require heavy travel with a burdensome workload for the next 12 months. As a general rule, volunteers should be given the chance to decide whether or not they have the time to do what you need done, but your wisdom is needed, too. Sometimes it is evident that we’re asking more than anyone can reasonably be expected to give. That, too, requires a bit of homework.


Don’t do it!

Even if you’ve found the perfect candidate—his or her passion, potential, and priorities all align with your vision—don’t make the ask until you do one more bit of homework: Is this person already doing a great job in Scouting for someone else? If so, your first call needs to be to his or her current leader. Sometimes you’ll learn the current assignment is close to a conclusion or that there is a way for your candidate to perform both assignments. But sometimes you’ll find that recruiting that candidate for your position will damage our efforts to build Scouting in another area. It’s tough to pass on the perfect candidate, but Scouting will be better for it.

Spend time in Preparation; assess Passion, Potential, and Priorities; don’t Poach. It takes a bit more time than just making an ask, but the kids we serve through Scouting will be better off.