These 5 rules from Fast Company could have been lifted from the training we do with chapters on recruiting, specifically on strategies we teach to both SELECT the best candidates and then to RETAIN them throughout their entire time on campus as a student.  Just like companies struggle with finding and keeping to talent, so do fraternities and sororities.

Let’s discuss how each of these 5 rules translates into fraternities and sororities:

  1. Make the job description painfully honest. It is important for potential members to know exactly what you expect from them once they join. Being clear and upfront about time commitments and financial obligations with anyone you are considering for membership will ensure that you do not lose members down the line because they did not know what they were getting themselves into. Do not just tell them the bare minimum requirements, tell them what it takes to be an outstanding member of your organization. Your best members will join because of the things you are doing, not in spite of the required time and financial commitment.
  2. Stop trying to “sell” the company to potential hires. A prevalent example of this is big-budget recruitment events that have nothing to do with what you value as an organization. Chapter-sponsored concerts, skydiving, and moon-bounces on the front lawn may seem like the best way to get people in the door, but the unintended consequence is a class of new members thinking that is what your organization is about. Right around the time they realize you don’t host a big event every week is the same time that your retention rate plummets. Recruitment events should be things your active members enjoy doing so potential members can see your true culture and can determine if it is a good fit for them (and so you can determine if they are a good fit for you). Including recruitment in things you already do will help you avoid the bait-and-switch retention problem. As an added benefit, your active members will complain less about coming to recruitment events.
  3. Focus on track records. Past performance is an indicator of future performance. If you want to recruit great members, find people who have done great things. It is easy to dream, but it is much harder to accomplish. Ask about their proudest achievement. Ask about previous and current involvement. If you want to find leaders for your organization, find people who are currently leading or who have been successful leaders in the past. Build this into your bidding decisions by coming up with clear and measurable eligibility requirements for membership including an involvement requirement and a GPA requirement, and ask potential members to share how they meet your requirements. This will attract better members and intimidate lesser ones – saving you from wasting your time on people who had no intention of contributing to your organization in a meaningful way.
  4. Ask candidates to take a personality assessment. This article proposes using a certified personality test to determine if potential employees would be a good fit. If your current membership supports this type of assessment, it would definitely help you offer bids to the right people. If you are like most chapters, a commercially available personality assessment may be a little over the top (save it for your executive board retreat). There is an alternative simple solution that provides the same value. Have potential members fill out an application for membership. This application should include questions that tell you if they are interested in joining for the right reasons and if they would be a good fit. Here are some sample prompts for your application:
    • List current club organization membership
    • List current leadership roles
    • What service and philanthropy activities have you participated in?
    • Why do you want to join this organization?
    • What impact do you hope to have on this organization?
    • What values drive your everyday actions and goals?
    • Explain how you feel and what you are doing when you are at your best
  5. Remind candidates that they’re also interviewing you. If you want your new members to be engaged, talk to everyone you consider for membership about the importance of finding a great fit. If they join and later find out they would have been a much better fit in another chapter, they are unlikely to contribute like they would if they had joined the right group. You end up with an apathetic member and the other group misses out on a good member. Do the smart thing and encourage potential members to look at other groups in the community. Doing this will decrease the likelihood of buyer’s remorse.

Follow these tips and you will excel at recruitment. Take it from the CEO who wrote the article in Fast Company:

“I realize that our slow-and-steady approach may mean that we miss out on some top talent. On the other hand, we’re also far more likely to bypass the headaches and setbacks that come with making bad hires. As I’ve learned the hard way, hasty hiring can put the brakes on the growth of your business. Taking the time to build a strong, positive, cohesive team is  the only way I’ve found to accelerate.”