Qualities of an Effective Recruiter

Are your recruiters trained in sales techniques?

After about two years of writing recruiting articles for Officer.com, I may have saved the best subject for last: salesmanship and other qualities of an effective recruiter.

What are the qualities of an effective recruiter? The number one quality, and perhaps the most overlooked, is salesmanship (please bear with me if I use the generic "man"). There are other qualities as well.


Every department, no matter how small, should have a recruiter. A 100-officer department has over 100 recruiters. Every Marine a Rifleman and every officer a recruiter. They should be briefed and given recruiting material as they have to train and work with the new recruits. Still, there should be someone to refer people to that are interested even if your department is too small for a regular recruiter.

In many agencies the recruiter doubles as a background investigator, or has other functions and duties. Too often I've seen recruiters assigned because they were on light duty. In other cases it was obvious that the administrator may have selected the recruiter(s) based on race & diversity (is this wrong?). Also, I've seen plenty of recruiters too who were in recruiting because it was easy duty, not because they really cared about the next generation of officer/deputy/agent/trooper.


Any recruiter should have the work ethic and personal make up to be motivated and caring. Assignments made on the basis of light duty or seniority are seriously flawed. Diversity is important, but not if the individual is not truly motivated and capable. To a degree, I do feel that in some, not all cases a minority may relate to another minority member, but only if that recruiter is motivated and trained. I do believe that female candidates do generally prefer a female recruiter and do want to ask specific gender questions about working in a male-dominated organization that they may not ask a male recruiter. That said; remember there are state & federal laws, EEOC rules, and likely department contractual obligations that all effect impartial selection. Diversity is good, but discrimination is not.

Sworn vs. Non Sworn vs. Human Resources

Many progressive agencies use non-sworn personnel in some recruiting positions. I strongly warn against simply having our recruiting websites and issues transferred to human resources. These folks often can't answer specific questions and have their hands full hiring secretaries, sewer workers, firefighters, etc. I believe every agency should have a uniformed sworn recruiter for job fairs and other public contact events. That said, agencies such as the Tallahassee (FL) Police Department have hired a retired sworn officer (in this case a sergeant) as their recruiter, freeing up full time sworn officers for the street. In many cases the recruiter can be part time. Manatee County (FL) hired a civilian sheriff's recruiter. In Las Vegas they used a grant to hire a former officer for their recruiting staff. Santa Rosa (CA) has a lady from human resources who is permanently assigned to the police department, so that she does know the answers to all those questions, i.e. Do you have K-9, motors, how long until I can be CSI or detectives, etc.?


Okay, you have selected a recruiter or recruiting staff, be it sworn, former or retired officers (used generically--trooper, deputy etc), or civilian. When you selected them, did you consider their sales background or do you have plans to train them in sales?

The Chula Vista (CA) Police Department was faced with rapid, expansive growth and chose a recruiter, Eric Farwell, who had extensive background and experience in sales and marketing.. Detective Farwell indicates that it's all about volume. You need a thousand contacts to get one "sale." In this case closing a sale is "all about getting the applicant to take the test." Even then, follow up is needed to keep good candidates interested. Detective Farwell uses his cell phone and e-mail extensively to keep in touch with candidates. He also says that you must have passion about what you are selling--in this case, your agency. "It has to be genuine," he says. He recommends an article on the web by Mark Hunter entitled "Passion as a Sales Tool." He also suggests any books by Zig Ziglar, especially Secrets of Closing the Sale.

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