Recruiting participants is often the most challenging aspect of managing any program. Most programs experience recruiting challenges at some point along the way. Recruitment tools—both active and passive—can help your team respond to a changing recruitment environment. As partners shift, the economy changes, or other challenges arise, it is important to devise a plan for recruitment using a variety of tools.

On May 3, 2018, the SWFI TA team hosted a webinar on outreach and recruiting strategies with Dan Friend, a senior researcher at Mathematica and an expert on recruiting hard-to-reach populations for grant-based training and service programs. During the webinar Dan shared a variety of strategies and experiences to improve your recruitment toolbox. These strategies include using all the recruitment tools available to you and creating a plan, and working with partners.

There are three primary ways to actively recruit new participants: outreach by your program, by your partners, and by your participants. It is important to identify staff, partners, and current program participants with the right skill set to effectively recruit new participants. These individuals should have outgoing personalities and be able to forge strong connection to the community in which you want to recruit. Grantees also need to equip their recruiters with information and materials to spread the word about your SWFI program.

Passive recruitment involves any method where a potential participant does not speak directly to a person. These methods include flyers, mailings, email blasts, media (e.g., TV, radio, newspaper, etc.), social media marketing (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and brochures. Passive recruitment methods need to be targeted to and respresentative of the program’s intended target population. For example, if your program serves primarily women, be sure to include marketing materials featuring women. The March 28, 2018 industry expert call on advanced manufacturing highlighted a number of best practices for tailoring outreach and recruiting materials to target populations. Key takeaways from that call have been posted to the CoP, and are useful for SWFI grantees targeting careers in other industries as well.

As part of your SWFI grant, you already have partners that are helping you implement your SWFI program.  These partners, along with informal partners in the community, are very important resources for your recruiting effort. Leveraging partnerships to help in recruiting involves constant attention, and must be tended to and nurtured. It is important to have regular in-person meetings with your partners to discuss recruitment strategies, materials, and possible participants.

Dan describes these and other recruitment strategies in a recent publication, a "Research to Practice Brief" on Integrating Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education and Employment Services. Several additional resources may also help SWFI grantees develop and implement effective recruitment strategies:

  • A March 2018 webinar on recruiting women for nontraditional apprenticeship and employment featured industry experts and peers sharing creative solutions for recruiting women into nontraditional apprenticeship and employment opportunities.

  • A May 2017 webinar on building strong partnerships for effective outreach and recruitment described best practices for recruiting youth and young adults for H-1B TechHire training, but includes valuable strategies for recruiting a range of populations including the long-term unemployed.

  • A CoP bulletin on Using LinkedIn to Recruit Trainees and Identify Job Openings describes effective techniques for creating a LinkedIn presence and building your networks of professional contacts, recruiting eligible and suitable trainees using LinkedIn, and using LinkedIn to match your program graduates to employers who have training related job openings.

  • A DOL handbook provides guidance to employers on recruiting and hiring the long-term unemployed, but is also useful for grantees in crafting their own strategies.    

  • Key takeaways from the August 2017 SWFI grantee peer sharing call on outreach and recruitment highlight grantee program approaches and provide details on outreach and recruitment strategies used by three of the SWFI grantees.

  • Slides from the 2017 SWFI grantee convening session summarized key strategies for participant recruitment and engagement to set the stage for small group discussions among grantees.

  • An outreach and recruitment tip sheet describes lessons learned and promising approaches among H-1B TechHire grantees.

Please join us on the discussion board to continue the conversation about innovative strategies for recruiting participants to your program! If you have any additional questions about these resources or the recruitment strategies discussed during the webinar, please reach out to your TA coach.