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What we have learned about hiring American Staff – Part 2

What we have learned about hiring American Staff – Part 2

Nobody likes roadblocks: Make your hiring process efficient and fun!

This is the second blog post in our series on how to increase the success rate of hiring great American staff for your camp program.

Recap from last time: In our first post, we discussed how college-age staff are communicating in ways that you may not be used to and the importance of updating your hiring process to maximize your time and energy. We also covered how the passive approach, like job boards, and job postings, should be seen as a tool in your hiring toolbox not the answer. Link to first post.

So, you’ve found a great potential American staff member, what’s next? How do you keep them engaged? In this post, we will cover the steps you should take to eliminate roadblocks and streamline your hiring process. We also want to share our ideas on how to keep the process fun and engaging. Working at a camp is not only a life-changing experience, it is also a ton of fun. So why not create a fun, meaningful culture as early as possible? Start with your hiring process! At the end of this post, we provide a simple breakdown of a recommended hiring process developed from the data collected from our successful member camps at CampGig.com.

Why are roadblocks bad? We have found that each additional required step in your hiring process significantly increases the chance potential staff will disengage and move onto other options and that’s not good for anybody.

What can you do to streamline your hiring process? To start, we have found that the biggest mistake camps make when trying to hire American staff through CampGig.com is asking the candidate to fill out a camp-specific application right off the bat, sometimes without even speaking to the potential staff member first. This is an unnecessary roadblock! We understand that filling out an application may be an HR requirement, but from what we’ve learned, you should push this step further down the process.

Step 1: Hook em’! Even during your initial communication, probably by text, it’s a good idea to share some cool information about your camp. Do you have a camp video, or some great staff photos specifically related to your hiring? If not, consider creating a video of why working at your camp is so great. This video doesn’t need to be of Oscar winning quality but it should be fun, light and really emphasize the high-points of working at your camp, including your location. Remember, many applicants don’t have a lot of knowledge of what other areas of the country are like, so take a moment to show them in your video. What is the camp like, the surrounding area, etc.? (Side note, be careful not to have the video feel exclusive with too many inside jokes and references to things the candidate may not yet understand, etc.)

Step 2: Talk! Once you have made your initial contact, it’s best to have a quick (5-10 minute) conversation via phone, Whatsapp, Facetime, Skype or even text. The intent of this call is to sell them on the camping lifestyle and your camp specifically (future post). This is also a great time to gauge the candidate, and to determine if they’re worth the effort. In other words, you should take a similar approach when trying to recruit new staff as you do when recruiting new campers. If a new camp-family shows interest in your camp, you don’t ask them to fill out a long application before you even speak with them, so why are you taking this approach with staff?

You might think, “Yeah, but they are applying for a job, this is what they have to do to get the job,” and we get that. But the data from our survey of camp staff shows that potential staff want to be sold on the new job before they’re required to fill out applications, submit references, etc. It may seem like hand-holding, but we think of it differently. We find that staff want to be involved with and understand the hiring process, all while feeling that they are valued as a person throughout.

Step 3: Peer Connection. So, how can you make the process fun, sell your candidates on your camp and your people, and make sure they are a good fit for your team? Camp is all about the people and the connections, and your hiring process is an opportunity to show this! After your initial conversation, have a peer, someone who will be working with the candidate, reach out to provide more context for what it’s like to work at camp. Not only does this conversation make the candidate feel more welcomed, but it also provides you with a second look of the candidate. The person who is making this contact should be someone who has worked at your camp for a few years and understands your culture and the role(s) the new candidate may fill. This is a great opportunity to sell the idea of camp and your camp’s experiences (future post). Have your returning staff member talk about why they love your camp, why it’s a great experience, why they’re returning, etc. Also, if you think there a good fit for your camp, now is the time to connect the candidate with your social media pages. This is the time to have the candidate start to understand your camp culture.

Step 4: Seal the deal. If you’ve shared your camp, your people, and your culture with the potential applicant and you are both still interested, now it’s time to start your streamlined application process, work on your interview questions, references, complete your background checks, etc. It’s hard to make the paperwork part of the process fun, so remember to make it as streamlined as possible and involve the candidate as much as possible.

In conclusion, the camps who are making the most successful hires on CampGig.com are connecting with the candidates; they are making them understand that their camp is a place where they will be valued; and they are streamlining their hiring process to minimize roadblocks.

Here is an outline of recommended steps for recruiting and hiring American staff:

Even if you don’t use CampGig.com, these steps should improve your recruitment and hiring process:

  • Find the candidate and make initial contact.
  • Determine the best way to communicate – Does this individual recommend using texts, phone calls, social media, smoke signals, etc.
  • Hook them with shiny things – Connect them with your videos, photos, etc. To get excited, they need to know what it will be like to work at your camp.
  • Introductory conversation – This is a 5-10 minute chat to sell your program and talk about why working at your camp will be great. This should also give you a solid understanding on whether or not the candidate is a good fit and if they are worth continuing the process with.
  • Peer conversation – Another 5 -10 minute chat with a peer, someone who has worked in the intended job before and understands who would be a good fit. This chat should make the candidate feel welcomed and provide you with someone else’s read on the candidate.
  • Determine if they’re a good fit, and be honest – If you’re interested in making the hire, now is the time to let them know, but it’s also time to let them know there are a few hurdles that still need to be crossed. Have them fill out the application, go through a formal interview, provide references, do your background checks, etc. Basically, you want them to understand that there is a viable job at the end of the paperwork-tunnel and it will all be worth the effort.
  • If they’re not a good fit, that’s OK – Don’t force it! Let them know as early in the process as you can. If, after two conversations, you and your team are not comfortable with the candidate, then there’s no need to have them fill out applications, provide reference forms, etc. Cut ties early to minimize work on both ends.

Keep an eye out for our next post, we will be covering the best ways to sell “camp” as a job and how to promote your camp specifically. From our data, we’re seeing that if potential candidates are sold on the idea that working in the camping industry is a meaningful, beneficial experience and resume builder, they’re much more likely to follow through with the hiring process and be a valued member of your team. Also, we’ll talk about internships and how that plays into the hiring mix.