As I am gearing up for another article on recruiting, I thought I would write some preliminary impressions here on an article I am reading this evening. (Please remember that this blog is meant to be mostly stream of consciousness in order to better organize my thoughts as I write my actual papers, so please forgive my meandering mind as I progress through these posts!)
My research interests right now include the recruiting attitudes of instrumental music teachers from a variety of economic profiles to see what variation may exist. The article I am reading this evening is all about recruiter effectiveness in a college setting and provides some incredibly relevant information.
One fascinating result of this study is a preference during an interview for enthusiasm and job information, concern for the applicant, and tough questions during the interview (1575). Also, applicants with higher GPA’s tended to have more negative perceptions of recruiters, whereas applicants who were looking forward to the interview looked at the recruiter in a more positive light (1575). Additionally, recruiter self-perceptions on effectiveness were significantly related to their self-perceptions of interpersonal skills (p < .001) and the applicants saw organizational characteristics to have nothing to do with their successes.
If we consider the four significant factors within this study in light of recruiting for string orchestra, we might find some striking resemblances. So let’s start with enthusiasm. I realize that it may be completely unnecessary to discuss enthusiasm, but seriously, what student would want to come to a school with an unenthusiastic teacher?!?! One of the biggest compliments I get on a regular basis is that my enthusiasm is contagious. A contagion is exactly what you need for recruiting isn’t it?! When you are representing your own program and encouraging others to join, it is absolutely essential that not only you are enthusiastic as the head of the program, but also that your student-recruiters are also enthusiastic. This goes back to the idea that recruiting happens every single day. Recruiting is the impression your students leave with each day as they are walking to their other classes. Recruiting is the story your students tell after an amazing rehearsal with you, it is in everything that we do, so we better do it all with enthusiasm according to this article!
Okay, so perhaps we need to replace “job” with “program” and we will have a perfect match. In the article, they did mention a negative perception when the recruiter spoke for too long about job information, so it is apparent that balance is necessary to achieve a successful interview/audition/recruiting session. Information regarding the music program is important at all levels, but especially when you are dealing with students from an economically disadvantaged community, this becomes more important. Consider some of the thoughts that a student might have as they are listening/interacting with the recruiter:
Who will provide an instrument? My family can NOT afford one for me…
Who will provide transportation to rehearsals? I can’t stay after school because I have to baby sit my siblings.
Who provides transportation to concerts? My parents work two jobs each and can’t take me.
Where will I practice? I live in an apartment and the noise level might be a problem.
And the list goes on and on. The answers to these questions MUST be answered in the recruiting session! Additional pieces of information that may be helpful are benefits: think spring trips, awards, opportunities to gain some fame, etc.
CONCERN for APPLICANT/STUDENT:
I cannot express how often this is overlooked by the high school band/orchestra director! How often it is cited in research that nobody reached out to the transitioning student. Nobody expressed a desire to have them participate in the new program. It isn’t enough for the middle school band director to say, “yeah, you should definitely join in high school…” How does he know what the high school teacher wants? Here are a few suggestions to express such concern:
Interact often enough that you know their names…. This seems common sense, but this is overlooked all the time! And if you can’t remember, ask their current director!
Make personal invitations for the recruits! Or better yet, have your current students each select a recruit to make an invitation for. What a great way to express concern!
Host events throughout the year that involve the recruits so that they become familiar with you and express at each event, your desire to have them in your program.
I interpret this one as an audition. I know how much students hate auditions, I did too! but auditions are a signal to the students that you care enough to provide them with the most conducive ensemble for success. I understand that it is not always realistic to have multiple ensembles within one program (been there too!) but at least an audition signals to the student that you care about their growth and are looking to provide them with the instruction and tools for success. For schools where there is just one program, perhaps this is not called an audition, but a “Getting-to-Know-You Meeting” in which you also hear them play. It also signals to the parent that your program has integrity and potential.
I think that I need to look outside of music ed more often for articles that may provide helpful research for our field! I am amazed at how easily all of the findings within this article fit into our own field and am looking forward to testing these out in my upcoming study!
Connerley, M. L., & Rynes, S. L. (1997). The Influence of Recruiter Characteristics and Organizational Recruitment Support on Perceived Recruiter Effectiveness: Views from Applicants and Recruiters. Relations, 50(12), 1563–1586.