Recruiting Gets a New Life Online

Recruiting Gets a New Life Online

The Vancouver Police Department turned to virtual reality recruiting to attract savvy young recruits. The results gained worldwide attention. Here's how they did it.

The competition sure is fierce when it comes to landing good young talent these days. Organizations are standing shoulder to shoulder around the global talent pool, trying to hook their share of Gen X and Gen Y keepers. But despite their youth, these new recruits are as wary and tight-lipped as a wily old bass. If you don't find just the right way to attract them, they won't give you a nibble.

Like its counterparts around the world, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) in Canada knows it must hire a sufficient number of these bright young prospects to stay at the top of its game. But that's a task that's becoming harder to do.

Until recently, the VPD always had far more applicants than it had positions, averaging about a thousand applications a year. Holding a job fair, putting an ad in the newspaper, and word of mouth were sufficient to fill any job that came open. Then along came generations X and Y -- and with them came significantly different expectations around career advancement, compensation and employer.

"Every police force is in the same situation. Because of the changing demographics in society, the pool of applicants is shrinking," said Inspector Kevin McQuiggin of the VPD's Forensic Services Section. "The idea of coming to a police agency and staying for thirty years is foreign to a lot of young people today."

Yet it's essential to hire personnel who are willing to stay for the long haul. It takes new recruits two to three years to become fully productive; front line officers average three to five years service; while investigators usually have 15 to 20 or more years of service. No wonder some are calling the law enforcement recruiting shortage a crisis.

When it first began to experience a hiring crunch, the VPD decided to cast a wider net for applicants and do some international recruiting. It had some success with this tactic, but with police agencies around the globe competing for the same small group of applicants, it soon became apparent that a different approach was needed.

"We needed to do things differently, and with the changes going on in society we wanted to attract a new class of applicants," said McQuiggin.

"We also wanted to differentiate ourselves and give applicants a reason to choose the Vancouver Police rather than other agencies."

That's when the VPD came up with an innovative idea. As the new frontiers of the Web have become a second home to Generations X and Y, why not use these new frontiers as a means of recruiting?

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