California City Struggles to Recruit Despite $75,000 Signing Bonus

As of late, there appears to be an arms race between agencies to see who can offer the largest signing bonus. However, it does not seem like these bonuses are not moving the needle when it comes to recruiting.

I continue to discuss the mistakes by law enforcement leaders in recruiting because if we do not correct course, the profession and the communities that are served will suffer for generations. Law enforcement has tried just about everything to recruit in recent years but there is no needle in a haystack to find. Agencies battling this issue today will never correct it unless they understand what it actually takes to recruit.

And as I said before, bonuses are not the long-term solution. Despite a starting salary of $113,000 and a $75,000 signing bonus, Alameda (CA) is still struggling and there is a reason why.

Why Bonuses Won't Help Police Recruiting

Benefits, bonuses and fancy websites are not recruiting and I don’t expect law enforcement to know what it is. Recruiting is not our core competency and we’ve never done it. Sure, we said we recruited but all we have done is marketing. There was never a need to recruit because there was no shortage of candidates and law enforcement simply put effort into making their agency look as attractive as possible.

After listening to a recent podcast I did on the subject, a friend told me that he fears that “law enforcement will continue to blame others and believe a fancy video will solve their problems.”

While that may be true, I’m hopeful that the profession will eventually figure out that actual recruiting is a skill and when done properly, it works very well.

Fool Proof Your Recruiting

Law enforcement can end this so called recruiting crisis today by actually recruiting and here is how it’s done:

  1. Recognize we are not recruiters and we are not the experts.

  2. Hire a recruiting firm that specializes in law enforcement and don’t let a historic marketing firm from the private sector tell you they will help you recruit. They will help you with a website and overall appearance but they won’t do much for recruiting.

  3. When you hire a recruiting firm, ask them what it will cost for the candidates needed. You heard that right. An actual recruiting company will be able to tell you. They will have past clients and case studies that will enable them to give you an accurate price.
Business man analysed report of profit finance data graph document in his office

I recently spoke to Jake Peters of SAFEGUARD Recruiting. The company is unique in that they are owned and operated by retired police officers and they understand the issue as well as anyone I know. They have been successful in staffing agencies throughout the country and he told me that when they review proposal requests from the marketing companies working for agencies that they never promise a number of candidates for an agency. It’s a brilliant business model to build websites and videos, throw some traffic towards the website and call it a success but without more candidates, it’s ineffective.

There is tremendous profit in helping an agency with their “appearance” and the last thing a marketing company wants to do is to give up that profit with recruiting efforts. Especially, if the agency is happy about their website and video.

According to Peters, they recognize the importance of marketing and they certainly do that but their primary goal is providing candidates to departments and they tell the department exactly what it will cost to acquire those candidates.

“We look for the current conversion rates of the agency and implement automated processes along with training that will help those rates increase and then provide the exact number of candidates that agency needs to fully staff their departments,” Peters told me.

Jake told me they recently advised an agency that needed 30 officers that they would guarantee the number of candidates needed to fill the positions and that price was well below what a website and video would cost from traditional marketing firms. Jake did not want me to reveal the cost but let’s just say it’s below the Alameda signing bonus.

Can you imagine filling your positions for the price of one signing bonus? Jake can but unfortunately, many in the profession either don’t see it or believe it.

As Peters told me, “Chiefs and Sheriffs can see websites and videos and it’s the easy choice if they don’t understand what recruiting actually is.”

According to Peters, no staffing issue is a problem for his company and they know they are the solution but until leaders understand the difference between marketing and recruiting, departments will continue to struggle.

Alameda PD is just one agency doing all they know to fix the issue but effort won’t work in this situation. It’s going to take a complete paradigm shift from the decision makers to understand exactly what needs to be done.

Are you intersted in learning more about how your department can successfully recruit? Fill out the form below to contact SAFEGUARD Recruiting today!

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