How To Train Your Recruitment Team

This summer, offices of enrollment across the country will develop and execute training and motivational sessions for their teams as they endeavor to successfully enter a new recruitment cycle. Previously determined as the optimal time to schedule training, this season is now filled with anti-melt activities, perpetual student search, conferences and tech implementation. Nevertheless, because recruiters are generally closer to home during these months, and the campus is less crowded, summer remains the prime season for training.

I have been involved in a number of recruitment trainings, primarily on the marketing/messaging side, with a smattering of sales when the team doesn’t know the distinction. My intent in this piece isn’t to prescribe training or offer a training service. Rather, I intend to outline a few key tactics that, in my 15 years of experience, have produced the greatest successes; in particular, I focus on parameters for training that have a significant positive effect upon recruitment.

As you plan your next retreat, workshop or seminar, you might want to keep the following strategies in mind. You should also keep in mind that a single training session or professional development retreat is never enough. That is, a truly effective recruitment team is one that has continuous opportunities to deepen their institutional knowledge and improve their process:

Clarify the difference between sales, marketing and counseling.

Although they are related, there is a distinct difference between the three activities. Indeed, it takes all three (and more) to bring in the class, but knowing the differences will allow you to allocate resources in the correct way. Learn more about the differences between marketing and sales in higher education by clicking here.

Clear up semantics with operational terms such as suspect, prospect, inquiry, applicant, admitted, deposited and enrolled.

You probably know that this language varies from campus to campus, but you may be surprised to know that most teams (even good ones) don’t carry a universal operational language. Part of this is compounded because CRM has brought its own lexicon to the table, but it is paramount to have a shared internal vernacular. Without it, accurate communication and consistent reporting cannot occur. 

Contextualize goals.

Goals take many forms. You have inquiry, application, headcount, demographic, academic, revenue, per-counselor, weekly calling and a myriad of other goals. I’ve observed that teams need context for those goals. More to the point, recruiters need to know how their efforts to recruit students affect the university ecosystem. Granular goals, like calls per week, are mostly punitive and disconnected from the net influence an enrolled student has upon an institution. Furthermore, those involved in recruiting need to understand what the qualities and characteristics of each enrolled student means for the health the institution, financially and otherwise.

Hone communication.

Typically, enrollment offices develop elevator speeches or a prescribed set of sentences to describe the institution to prospective students and families. However, in my experience, elevator speeches function as crutches for those unwilling to learn as much about an institution as possible. At the very best, an elevator speech should start a conversation, but if it’s not supported by a deep knowledge about programs and offerings, you’ve lost your audience. Instead of relying on the myth of elevator speeches, focus on collecting detailed information about the institution that can be shared amongst recruiters.

Solidify and share the communication flow.

Communication flow plans are often relegated to the files (digital and analog) of persons put in charge of creating them. As a result, the flow is, at best, never fully solidified and, at worst, never actually used. Not only should the comm flow be firmed up before the academic year begins, it should also be visibly displayed and shared within the office. This provides those doing the recruiting with an explicit awareness of what occurs around individual counseling efforts.

RHB can help your institution build and implement a solid communication flow plan. Contact us to discuss pricing.

Ultimately, the best recruitment training extends beyond any single workshop or seminar. It includes those, but also entails building a culture of transparency and best practices, one that aims to continuously improve processes and strengthen communication amongst members of the team—and, by extension, their communication with prospective students and families.

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Sam Waterson

Sam is President at RHB.