Public Safety Voices: Fire Chief Tom Jenkins

The Millennial workforce presents new challenges. 

“Our primary challenge is how to deal with the youngest generation we employ: the Millennials. We’re used to hiring people who want to be career firefighters, and for the first time ever, our new hires are often not interested in a long-term career. So, how do we keep them motivated and retain them?

“We start by acknowledging that it’s not business as usual. This is just not the same group working here today; they’re not going to conform to what we believe are the best parts of the job. For example, it’s hard to get Millennials to work overtime – they enjoy their time off. We used to work 24 on, 48 off; now we work 48 on, 96 off.

“This generation is also focused on wanting to make a difference, to have an impact – to see and do different things. If things get stagnant or they get bored, then they’re unhappy and want to go elsewhere. So, to combat that, we created diversity in our assignments, e.g., running airport fire stations, special rescue and hazardous materials teams.

“At some point it begins to inch toward a crisis. We can’t compete with the private sector on pay. We offer a great pension, but they live in the now. They’re not thinking about the future.”

At best, fighting fires is only five percent of our job.

“The one thing people don’t respect enough is the wide scope of our business. Over 3,000 people die every year in a fire; it’s still a very real and tangible threat. But a lot of people think all we do is fight fire. At best, that’s five percent of our job.

“We’re the only 24/7 health care industry that still makes house calls. Car wreck, train wreck, chemical spill, chest pains, or a house on fire – we’re the first on the scene. We work to balance all the new and emerging things we do. It’s tough to advocate for so many different things, and be master of all.”

Fire Chief Tom Jenkins, Rogers, Arkansas, Fire Department

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Get the Word Out: Tips for Boosting Your Recruitment Efforts

Once you have your job bulletin prepared and it is eye-catching, concise and informative, you are ready to start spreading it around. Just like the other background materials that we have discussed in the recruiting series, you should do some preparation and research to increase the effectiveness of your advertising results. Ideally your approach to attracting viable candidates will be a combination of the two types of recruiting we discussed in article one: “They Find You” and “You Find Them.”

Like most public sector entities your resources are probably limited, which means you are short on money and manpower. Therefore, it is critical that you make the most of your efforts and take advantage of as many freebies as you can. In my experience there are many radio and television stations that will air public service announcements for agencies recruiting for public service positions. We also found that when we made special efforts to add large numbers of police officers to one department I worked with, the media picked it up as a news story and every local news show and newspaper carried the story. Our recruiters were even invited on some talk segments for television and radio all of which served to give us tremendous exposure. Perhaps your local stations will see your recruitment as newsworthy as well, particularly in this time of high unemployment. Giving them a call and pitching that angle may prove beneficial. Continue reading

The Two Most Important Documents For Your Recruitment Process

There are two important documents that you will utilize during your recruitment process and they should be designed to work together to maximize your recruiting efforts. I call the first one the “Job Bulletin,” and I call the second the “Job Announcement.” In many jurisdictions, these terms are used interchangeably or other titles are used for the same two documents. Still other jurisdictions attempt to get the job done with just one document. So I have given each document the name I commonly use and I like to stress that, ideally, agencies should make use of both documents. Particularly since the distinction is that the “Bulletin,” is short and covers the basics, while the “Announcement,” is much longer and covers all the aspects of the selection process in detail.

Utilizing two documents can save an agency money and increase the success of the recruitment and selection process. The bulletin being short by design and covering only the basics is cheaper to post on the websites, newspapers and periodicals you have chosen as your sources for getting the word out that you are recruiting. If you have done a thorough job of preparing your job announcement, the length of the document will make posting it on all your recruiting sites cost prohibitive. Continue reading

Clearly Define the Steps in Your Recruitment Process

There are two documents that are associated with effective recruiting. While they are referred to by many names, I call the first one the “Job Bulletin,” and I call the second one the “Job Announcement.” The distinction I make is that the first one is short and merely covers the basics like the name of the organization, position tile, starting salary, dates for recruiting, and how and where to apply. The second — the job announcement — is sufficiently detailed to provide all the information candidates need to know to help them be successful in the entire process. That being the case, this document is, out of necessity, much longer.

Just like the other steps we have covered in the recruiting process, there is a significant amount of background work that must be done to lay the foundation for preparing these documents. Each time you prepare for a recruitment it is essential that you evaluate your selection plan. Your recruiting efforts will benefit from the efforts that you make to ensure that your plan is as streamlined as possible and that gaps between administering each step in the selection process have been minimized. This is particularly critical when working with candidates who are coming to your location from out-of-town. Continue reading

Positive Image is a Recruitment Tool

As stated in the first article, the goal of good recruiting should be to attract the best candidates available to become a part of your work force. Minimizing the number of candidates it is necessary to attract to be able to fill the vacancies you have should be the goal of efficient and effective recruiting. That means that ideally you will lose fewer candidates at each step in the selection process so that you ultimately have a good ratio between the number of individuals applying and actual candidates given job offers. This involves targeting qualified candidates in your recruitment process and it also involves doing what you can to ensure the success of the candidates you have attracted.

While producing recruitment strategies that generate large numbers of candidates to apply for the jobs you have available may look impressive, it means very little if those large numbers do not equate to eligibility lists with large numbers of highly qualified candidates. In addition, large numbers can also lead to increasing expenditures in the selection process which is ultimately a waste of money if the quality of candidates is lacking and the steps in your process reflect high failure rates. In order to accomplish the goals of efficient and effective recruiting it is necessary to go back to the beginning and look at the entire process keeping in mind the marketing model. Continue reading

Recruiting: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

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As a Human Resources Professional, I always believed that recruiting was the most exciting and enjoyable part of my job. In particular I found career fairs to be extremely invigorating (and exhausting).

Recruiting is where the rubber meets the road as an old tire advertisement used to say. Recruiting is essentially marketing and it is important to approach the process with that in mind. The process in its simplest terms involves representatives from the agency doing the recruiting and inviting people to join them as part of the work force to do the kind of work needed by the agency they themselves work for. That being the case, recruiters should be excited about what they do, who they do it for and the prospect of being involved in selecting who they get to do it with. Continue reading