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January 29, 2021 / Systems of Success

Systems of Success – The Recruiting Process

Written by Jim Jordan

Original post January 2019, Updated January 2021

It’s late January and that means it’s time to start thinking about recruiting for next year. Compounded by the challenges brought on by the ongoing pandemic that may mean recruiting  will need to be done remotely, this process will take more creativity and focus than ever as you gather your 2022 staff.

Each and every year, you must find willing, talented, hard-working students and convince them that they want to sign up to be a member of staff and help create the book with you.

We are all a little like Tom Sawyer. We need help painting the fence, and we need as many people as we can get to help get the job done.

As I have always defined them, yearbook staffers need to be “bright, talented, creative students willing to work together as a team to create something beautiful that will last a lifetime.” To create a great book, you must have as many of these kinds of students as possible.

Along with being the yearbook adviser, I also taught English, and I always saw every one of my English students as a potential staff member. Do they write well? Do they seem to have any artistic skills? Are they hard workers? Are they natural leaders?

Not everyone will be interested or be able to fit the class in their schedule, but I always tried to recruit as many as I possibly could. Even though recruiting can seem to be a daunting challenge at times, somehow I always had just enough great students willing to take on this marvelous process of putting together a yearbook.

Recruiting  strategies to consider. Find the ones that best suit you and your style. The most important strategy is to get started.

Step One: Getting Started – Set Up a Timeline

  • Know the dates when students will begin selecting classes for next year. You need to ramp up your recruiting push weeks before students make their actual class selections. Even if these dates are right in the middle of the most intense days of the production of this year’s book, you must focus on connecting with potential staffers well before the registration process begins.
  • Get Applications Ready. Set a Selection Timeline. Get Information Out on Social Media. Set the date when applications are due, when you will hold interviews (they can be done online if needed) and when you will select and post the staff. Begin to get information out on your social media channels that you need talented people to be on next year’s staff. Let them know all the reasons that being a yearbook staff member will be one of the best decisions they could ever make.
  • Be Flexible. There was a time when I had so many applicants I could make hard and fast cut-off dates that would allow me to pick a staff and have the process early in the spring. As the years went by I became more and more flexible in working with students who were willing to be a part of the staff. I would often pick up several great staffers once they realized they didn’t really want to take Calculus during their senior year!

Step Two: Identify Those Students Who May Be Great Yearbookers

  • Get testimonials from your former staff members. Find your former staff members on social media and ask them to write a testimonial on what they got out of being on staff. Turn these comments into a recruiting handout or better yet, record their comments and make a video and play it on your school’s broadcast. Post them as memes on your social media channels. Your former staffers will be able to explain what it means to be on staff and what can be gotten from the experience better than anyone else
  • Talk to your school staff. Solicit recommendations from colleagues who know the individual skill sets and work ethic of their students. Send out an email and ask them to recommend who might be a good fit for what you do in yearbook. My colleagues knew my program well and they were good judges of who had talent and might like the process of what we do to make a book.
  • Bring a Friend. Ask every current staff member to recruit a friend or provide a name of someone they know who would be a great potential staff member.

Step Three: Contact Prospective Staffers Directly

  • Send personal communications. Everyone loves the personal touch. Let students with a letter or email know how you feel their talents may be perfectly suited to being a staff member. This will be a key method if you are not able to see them in person.
  • Hold an Open House/Parent Information Night. Hold a yearbook program open house for students and parents. In recent years more schools have been holding Parent Information Nights where parents come with their students and see what programs and electives are available at the school. When you are able to meet in person, hold a publications open house during the school day
  • Keep Your Eyes Open. See everyone on your campus and in your classes even if they are remote as a potential staff member. Find out what they are looking for in a great class or extracurricular experience and show them how yearbook will help them develop their skills and meet great new people

Step Four: Think Outside the Box

  • Consider a Class/Club strategy. In a conversation I had on a recent podcast with Patty Gomez adviser at Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida she described the Class/Club strategy that has helped build her staff to over 50 members in just three years. She does have a class for anyone who gets selected to be on staff, but she also has a yearbook club that meets once a week after school. To be in the club, students must still complete an application and be selected but it is open to anyone who is interested including freshmen. This has helped her increase student interest before they get involved in other programs as well as provide a place for students who do not have room in their schedules during any particular semester or year. Editors have even been able to function as club members when their schedules would not allow them to be in the class.
  • Study the many recruiting resources available. There are hundreds of great ideas out there about how to get great kids in your program. Find the ones that work best for you. Just get started!

Check out the recruiting resources on walsworthyearbooks.com. Try our recruiting webinar, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall How to Recruit the Best Yearbook Staff of All,” our eBook, “Recruiting Yearbook Staffs: Methods to Madness” and our article, “15 ways to ramp up your yearbook recruiting effort right now.”

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Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan is a Special Consultant for Walsworth Yearbooks and the host of the Yearbook Chat with Jim podcast. He is former yearbook adviser at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California. Jim was the 1996 JEA Yearbook Adviser of the Year, and shares his expertise with students and advisers at workshops and conventions across the country. Jim is the lead mentor for Walsworth's Adviser Mentor Program.