How Do You Recruit?

I was wondering how everyone tackles this issue?

As it is a new year, I’m sure this is on most of the Squadron MCO’s minds, let alone the OC and all the other staff and cadets…

We haven’t held an Open Evening in over 3 years and are looking to do one again, I am adamant that we try and present a [color=#ff0000]real[/color] idea of what the Cadets do on a regular basis (it’s no good telling them we Fly, Shoot and Rock Climb every parade night!)

I’m looking for ideas for the rest of the recruitment package, mainly the recruitment in schools. For those of you who do this, when do you do it? and how do you get in? We have had many thanks, but no thanks letters, including reasons such as, we don’t want to promote one Armed Force without the others being represented and it doesn’t fit in with the schools image.

Sorry if this has been done to death, and I did look in the archive, but nothing really answered the question!

We use a combination of open evenings and school presentations, but I’m trying out some posters for adult staff recruitment next week.

We don’t use intakes, although we’ve started to move in that direction.

We assist at quite a few community events, although we never make the most of the recruitment opportunity. That’s something I’d like to change in the future.

Unhelpful answer:

It’s compulsory.

(I assume you were really asking about the 77% of the ACO who are in the ATC… - perhaps worth saying so.)

[quote=“tmmorris” post=15004]Unhelpful answer:

It’s compulsory.

(I assume you were really asking about the 77% of the ACO who are in the ATC… - perhaps worth saying so.)[/quote]
A bit harsh - it’s compulsory at your school! Our local CCF the options are Sport, CCF or DofE… better than it was a few years ago when the options were so painfully dull that everybody did CCF!!!

I’ve had open days before and they were very successful but you’ve got to make sure that you advertise it well. It’s no good just putting up a few posters. My Committee were happy to pay for a quarter page advert in the local newspaper and that seemed to attract most of those who came. Oddly enough, we recruited more cadets for the Sqns nearby than we did for ourselves, but at the end of the day, the Corps benefitted so it didn’t matter. And as has been said, be honest with the visitors.

Presentations at schools can be a bit hit and miss. We tended to recruit from two or three schools in the Town and a campaign at these was pretty successful especially as current cadets were available to answer questions etc. We went to a school where we traditionally had virtually zero representation over the years, the staff were very on-side and the enthusiasm at the presentation was encouraging; nobody turned up at the Sqn despite follow-up emails to those who expressed an interest.

Jacques mentions fixed intakes to start the new cadets and I’m now a great believer in these. I used to be of the mindset ‘I’ve got a new cadet, get him in or we’ll lose him’, but I was persuaded by another Sqn Cdr who had been doing intakes for years and it’s very much a leap of faith. Bring them up for a look-see and then say you can start in x weeks time. If they really want to join, they’ll wait and it’s generally only 3-4 months at the worst (assuming 3-4 intakes a year). But you have to keep them interested during that wait; send them an e-mail every now and then, tell them what the cadets have been doing and send them joining instructions in good time. The bonus is for Sqns in that you can plan a meaningful training programme for them without the pain of having one cadet having done one bit, someone else needing different subjects. The cadets also have someone else to be with and the effect of a group at the same level is a great incentive for them to keep going. With ‘trickle feed’ recruiting, I reckon I kept around 60% for more than a year, with set intakes that went up to over 80%.

1 Like

We do all of those mentioned. The one thing you haven’t mentioned and the one that seems to give us the biggest hits … articles in the local press. The best things I’ve found are flying/gliding, they are eye-catching activities and aren’t easily accessible to the average teen. God forbid we ever lose these. I’ve tried other activities and they don’t seem to capture the imagination as much. Most local papers like to have positive things about youngsters. Don’t forget to include photos, at least 2.

Schools can be a problem and we struggled to get in, but I found out by chance that I knew the Chairman of Governors’ in one and a Governor in another of our local comprehensives. I found out they did this in the pub and just mentioned we hadn’t had a response from their schools, a while later I got emails from the deputy heads and after meeting with them arranged presentations. I was then contacted by the Head of Pastoral Care in the third local comprehensive and now we are “in” all three and do assemblies in each. I would suggest to not give up. It might even be worth talking to councillors as they have contacts in all manner of places. Politicians at all levels just love youngsters involved in postive activities and anyone blocking them (for want of a word) will get a tug.

The single biggest thing is don’t expect too much from whatever you do. A local sqn got a new CO and he targeted one school as he had looked at their exam results and thought they would be better cadets! He did the assemblies and got 3 turn up. He expected at least 30 as he had presented to c.250 year 9s. When he was talking about it, I asked how many ‘bus in’ to the school, he didn’t know and assumed they all lived locally. Amazing as there are at 4 other senior schools in his sqn’s direct catchment. I know that at around 30-40 percent of our 3 local schools come in on buses, so coming to our sqn after school, might just not be practical.

Intakes are the way. As CM says they are a leap of faith, but definitely the way to go, IMO. We do 2 a year but I know of sqns who do 3 and one who does 4. But the latter have a large staff team with a group who just do Basic Cadet cadet training. However try and find out when your target schools are doing things, this might be difficult as in my experience schools are crap at organising/arranging things more than a couple of weeks in advance, and you need to set your intake date at least 3 months in advance. We did one a few years back and it clashed with a school trip for Year 9 in one school and a prosepective student open night in another, which invariably means pupils at the school on those nights. The intake was a complete wash out, we had 4 all mates and one of them decided not for him and the other 3 left. I’ve now changed the night for intakes, as schools don’t tend to do anything on a Monday. The ‘mate’ effect can be a problem with intakes, I’ve seen it a few times.

Much of what we do advertising wise is ensuring we stay in the consciousness of the public. As CM says school presentations are very hit and miss, but then it has your target audience largely in one place. If I’m honest everything we do advertising wise is hit and miss.


[quote]tmmorris wrote:
Unhelpful answer:

It’s compulsory.

(I assume you were really asking about the 77% of the ACO who are in the ATC… - perhaps worth saying so.)[/quote]
A bit harsh - it’s compulsory at your school! Our local CCF the options are Sport, CCF or DofE… better than it was a few years ago when the options were so painfully dull that everybody did CCF!!![/quote]

Thats ok, I didn’t specify for that reason, I was interested to see what you do in the CCF too, as Batfink mentioned, our local school with a CCF unit also has a choice, both of section and activity (including D of E and sport). Knowing the CCF contingent commander (he’s known me since I was a nipper) he tells me that every so often, when they get local students starting to board or on day schooling, they join the RAF section the strength of what they have seen the local ATC squadrons do.

I did forget to mention this, I’m the Sqn MCO so I know that this is mostly how we are getting the new ones in! Also was on a night shift at the time I posted!! :ohmy:

I will take all the comments on the Intakes on board, and I find it really interesting to see how for some people school presentations work and for others they don’t at all…

We have posters in schools, school presentations, we try for press releases (but it has to be a slow week for us to get anything in these days!), have an active social media presence, we tried - for the first time in years - a recruitment/open evening last year (with reasonable success) and that’s about it. We have a reasonable presence in the local community - providing support for civic events, our County show and, last year, supported an Opera (yeah. I’m serious).

Other people I know have recruited financially (bring a buddy, get £10! - something which I cannot bring myself to justify), recruiting through local parish magazines (much cheaper a proper advert (rather than article) in than local press). I also know of Cadet Forces located near military establishments often target service children, advertising through HIVEs or station magazines. A rather large air transport station seems to dedicate a whole page in their station glossy to the local squadron.

In takes wise, it’s a leap of faith. But it works. We’ve been doing it for 10 years now and I wouldn’t consider going back to “drop feeding”. The benefits of a cohort of comrades going through basic training together is something which works well, and helps simplify training programmes overall. Telling people to “come back in 3 months” (worst case scenario) is the worst bit- but manage them proactively (keep in touch, send them newsletters etc) and they will return.

e.campbell, sorry, just being provocative as always.

CCF recruitment does depend enormously on what the alternatives are: versus sport is tough, as it means the sporty kids don’t do CCF, which is perverse. If it’s against other ‘community service’ then that’s better. I’ve never understood why schools do it against D of E - again, the same pupils should be doing both, unless you make it that everyone does D of E but some of them do it via CCF and add military stuff, some of them do it purely civilian and do volunteering in the community.

This is an important question for me as I don’t know how long we will continue with compulsory service - it’s gone from 4 terms, to 3, to a ‘pre-CCF’ term of AT plus 3 terms, in my time (I got the ‘pre-CCF’ term back, as we lost a lot going from 4 terms to 3); but future management may want to go for voluntary CCF and I would need to make sure we get a reasonable deal and don’t get given a graveyard shift when the pupils don’t want to do it.

From what I gather, one of our local CCFs has gone from 2 afternoons a week (one Year 9/10, one year 11/12/13) to 1 afternoon - for ALL - every 2 weeks. This has had a huge impact on a number of areas within the CCF itself - long term, I expect it will impact most on the uptake.

And when we offered (as a squadron) to support, we were politely told to back off… it’s almost as if they haven’t read DYER!

The former is poor - this will affect their grading in their next biennial. Mind you, I’ve just read through the file of biennials for the last 28 years and some of those reports are so bad we should have failed, but we didn’t - there is a reluctance to use the ‘nuclear option’ which is the only one available.

The latter is poor, for other reasons. They probably haven’t read DYER (unless they are engaged with CCFA they probably have better things to do). Who told you to back off - the section staff?

Just wanted to thank you all for your help.

We have discussed and we are going to trial the Intake route. Now to organise!

Date is set for the Open Evening with Intake night a week later (while it’s still on their minds!)