Staff Your Camp For Less! Effectively Use the Internet to Recruit Staff While Saving Valuable Time and Money

by Rebecca McEldowney

In a recent survey of both overnight and day camps across the U.S. and Canada, many camps responded that recruiting quality staff is a key priority (NicheDirectories 2002). As many camps have discovered, this priority can be easily addressed by effectively advertising online and exploiting the power of the Internet to recruit staff, while saving valuable time and money.

The Internet can be a very valuable tool to help camps recruit quality staff quickly and efficiently. Currently, online advertising is considered to be the most cost-effective advertising medium available. Advertising online allows camps with either large or limited budgets to effectively reach targeted audiences in a timely fashion, while measuring the response rate of advertising dollars. Equally important, online advertising and marketing greatly reduces printing and postage costs associated with brochures, applications, and registration packets. And finally, online advertising reduces travel expenses used to attend job fairs and helps camps avoid the last minute staffing crunch with year-round recruiting.

Comparing Online Advertising

Key Point
Advertisers pay for circulation and the focus of the audience. The most important concept camps need to consider when spending their advertising dollars for staff recruitment is how many people will have access to their ad and if those people represent the audience they want to reach.

Advertising Channels

  • Regional Classifieds — A one-time classified ad in a regional paper with a large, but general, circulation can run anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000+. Alternatively, for far less money, camps can advertise open positions online, year-round, through regional job Web sites and reach a more targeted audience!
  • Camp Job Web Sites — Online advertising channels also offer job sites that are dedicated to the camp industry. Unlike print publications, or general job sites, camps can advertise monthly or annually for staff to a targeted audience (e.g., ACA online job opportunities at www.ACAcamps.org, CampJobs.com, GreatSummerJobs.com, CampStaff.com, and others).
  • Job Fairs — The average cost of attending a university job fair reaching only 500 students is between $75-$150 for the booth, plus travel expenses. Online job fairs run approximately $300-$800 for three months, and allow you to reach 1,800+ colleges and universities worldwide!

Fact
The majority of job-seeking Internet users in the United States feel recruitment sites are a more effective way of finding work than newspaper job listings (Greenfield Online, October 2002).

Recruiting Through Your Camp’s Web Site

First and foremost, in the age of the Internet, camps must have a Web site to efficiently recruit staff, in addition to campers. But having a Web site is not enough! Camps must be sure to have a section dedicated to staffing so that interested candidates can locate the information they need and apply for available positions. Providing staff applications online and/or in PDF formats can further reduce your printing and postage expenses and will allow candidates to apply quickly and efficiently.

Fact
Ninety-one percent of top companies use corporate Web sites for recruiting (iLogos Research 2002).

Getting Your Web Site Found by Potential Staff

So now you have a Web site! How will potential job candidates find your Web site and the content designed for them? Search engine placement, while confusing at times, is an effective way to get your Web site found. To begin with, ensure your domain name is registered with the major search engines. In addition, adding Keyword Meta tags to your Web site’s source code will help the search engines using spiders (e.g., Google) locate and index your Web site in their search results. Finally, including your camp listing and Web site link on destination Web sites will increase your visibility and therefore traffic. Destination Web sites include various sources such as job sites (e.g., www.HotJobs.com, www.CampJobs.com, et al.), Online Camp Directories (e.g., www.KidsCamps.com, www.ACAcamps.org, et al.), camp associations, Chambers of Commerce, and many others.

Tip
Be sure that all online job advertisements include a link to your Web site. Candidates are more likely to apply if they can quickly learn more about your camp. You spent time building the Web site — make sure it can be found!

Fact
Approximately 61 percent of online job seekers are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine (Pew Internet & American Life, October 2002).

Online Job Sites — What You Need To Know

With so many online job sites to choose from, how do you know which will work the best for your camp? Before committing your advertising dollars, take the time to evaluate a few services to find out which service(s) fits your needs. When researching online job sites, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Who is their audience?
  • Where and how do they market (search engines, print, direct mail, etc.)?
  • What is their circulation/traffic?
  • How functional are the searching tools?
  • How much information is allowed per ad?
  • Can applicants link directly to your Web site?
  • Can applicants apply online?

To effectively gauge which online job site works best for your camp, consider advertising job openings on more than one site, and test the results so that you can make informed decisions the next year when planning your advertising budget for staff recruitment.

Tip
Search the Internet for job sites and test their marketing practices by acting like a candidate searching the Internet for a summer job at camp. See which job Web sites you come across and which ones work well for you!

Additional Internet Resources for Recruiting Staff

Aside from posting job ads and optimizing your Web site, other online resources are available to help you effectively recruit staff. Searchable applicant databases can be very useful when you are looking for a specific position, especially when the position is hard to fill, such as a camp nurse. A few services offering searchable candidate databases include www.ACAcamps.org, www.CampJobs.com, www.Monster.com and www.SummerJobs.com. Online job boards (www.JobBoards.com) and job fairs (www.JobWeb.com) can also be useful if you are looking for candidates in your local area.

Online Background Screening

Once you have successfully recruited your staff, you’ll want to properly screen individual staff members to protect your campers — while at the same time reducing the camp’s liability exposure. Implementing background screening in your hiring process is sound risk management. The screening process helps you ensure that you select the best possible employees and protects your campers, other staff members, and the camp itself from exposure to employees who pose unacceptable, identifiable threats.

Just as online advertising has made the recruitment process easier and more efficient, complete background screening services are now available online, allowing camps to quickly and accurately screen prospective candidates. More and more, camps are turning to these commercial background checking services to assist in the time-consuming task of prescreening job applicants. Use of a professional service requires compliance with federal regulations and results in a more comprehensive and supportable screening of your employees. Commercial background checking companies can provide you with a variety of reports, including, but not limited to, screening of criminal records, sexual offender databases, social security and identity verification, employment/education history, reference checks, motor vehicle reports, and credit checks.

It can be very difficult to perform reliable background checks in multiple municipalities and jurisdictions. Fortunately, commercial background checking companies make this easier for organizations by providing access to key databases. Companies providing background-screening information are subject to the requirements so be sure you verify their compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) before proceeding. For more information on the FCRA, visit www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcra.htm.

Final Staffing Tip

Remember, it’s never too early to start recruiting! Early applicants truly want to work at camp, so plan on advertising year round for staff to reduce urgent last-minute staffing needs.

References
NicheDirectories, LLC, 2002 Summer Camp Market Survey.
Greenfield Online, Monster Top of Job Search Sites Ranking, October 2002.
iLogos Research, Global 500 Web site Recruiting, 2002 Survey.
Pew Internet & American Life, American Net Users Search for Jobs Online, October 2002.

 

Rebecca McEldowney is the marketing consultant for KidsCamps/CampJobs.com.

Originally published in the 2004 March/April issue of Camping Magazine.

 

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