What We Have Learned about Hiring American Staff – Part 1

What We Have Learned about Hiring American Staff – Part 1

To communicate with and attract American staff, camps must evolve.

It’s time to start hiring for next season. Is this a fun process for you or are you dreading it? Either way, this season we want to help you hire great American staff without spinning your wheels and barking up a lot of the wrong trees. We at campgig.com hope to shed some light and provide a few answers for you on what it means to find good quality, American staff members for your programs. Over the past year, we have gathered a ton of data from staff and camps and hope we can take some of the mystery out of finding and hiring American staff for your camp.

With unemployment at a record 49-year low, camps face more competition when seeking to hire highly qualified summer staff than ever. Not only is it a competitive market, but the pressure for college students to have that highly ranked (usually not) internship adds to the challenge. Oh, and don’t forget that working at a camp requires staff to be away from their family, friends, and partners for the summer, the hours are pretty insane and the pay is, well, typically not a lot.

Of course, we all know the incredible benefits that come with working at a summer camp, so we won’t spend a lot of time talking about why staff should want to work at our camps… However, you should understand that you need to SELL the experience of working at a camp, especially when considering all of those factors listed above. Most potential camp staff have little to no context for what working at a camp is like. Just think about all the positive aspects we might forget to mention: being outside, the beautiful places and the people, the relationships and the memories! Potential staff not only need to understand why working at a camp is great, but they also need to understand why your camp is as awesome as it is.

Hiring American staff is very different from hiring internationals. Why is this? Well, for starters, many internationals already have some skin in the game. They have already paid some money to their placement agency, spoken at length with a placement coordinator, and usually, the money is a secondary benefit of working at camp – it’s more about the experience and travel for them. (Side note: while CampGig focuses on American staffing, we feel that international staff play a crucial role in the summer camp experience, and we fully support the continuation of the J1 Visa program!)

So, over the next few weeks, we hope to provide a few answers that can help you find and hire great American staff, starting with communication!

For now, we’ll cover:
– Why email may be dead and texting is the way to go!
– Job boards don’t seem to be doing the trick.

Email is dead – almost. According to AWeber Communications, college-aged students admitted to “checking social networks several times a day while neglecting their email accounts for days or weeks unless they were expecting important messages from a teacher, college or employer.” Note that this doesn’t say “future employer.” So, if you’re wondering why potential staff don’t respond to your emails, it’s probably because they didn’t read them. Great news, right? Nearly all of the staff surveyed from CampGig.com said that the best and most effective way to get into contact with them is via texting. Yep, texting is now the preferred way to make initial contact with potential American staff.

Once you’ve made initial contact, now how should you continue? Ask them! Each candidate may have a different preferred method for communicating. For some who are totally immersed in social media maybe that’s the way to keep in touch. For others, maybe email will still work. Whatever the method is, it’ll be important to compromise and find a common method.

One thing is certain, when communicating with new staff you need to constantly be thinking of ways to reduce roadblocks (future post). Sure, there are candidates who will actively search out the camps they want to work at, fill out applications, send in resumes, and call the camp to speak with the person who does the hiring, but these future all-stars are few and far between. Most American staff take a more passive approach, and although this can be frustrating, it’s just the new reality.

Speaking of being passive, less than 25% of the candidates on our site told us they looked through the job board. This tells us, the days of writing great job descriptions and spending a ton of time creating camp profiles may not be worth the effort any longer. Sure, these posts will attract the candidates who are super engaged in the camp-hiring-process, but there’s a good chance they would have found you anyway using Google or social media. So, should you still post your jobs on job boards? Probably, but from our data you can’t expect to sit back and watch the candidates resumes overwhelm your email inbox. Job boards should be seen as one of the tools in your summer-staff-hiring-quiver, not the solution.

What are this week’s takeaways? Well, for starters, remember that the way college- age staff are communicating is evolving and it’s important to update your hiring process to maximize your time and energy. This means finding an efficient method for locating new potential staff, and communicating in ways that the staff understand and use. Also, we’ve learned that actively searching for candidates, learning the best communication methods, and minimizing roadblocks within your process will yield more results than sitting back and waiting for the applicants to find you.

If this all seems like a lot of work, you’re right, but the outcome of hiring great US staff is worth the effort. Find out more at www.campgig.com.

Topics for next our next post:
– Having staff fill out an application can’t be the first thing you have them do. Minimize roadblocks!
– Streamline your hiring process – Make it efficient, but make it fun!

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