The student media staff I advise has pizza every Thursday at staff meeting. The free pizza is a huge perk for the staff. I’m pretty sure I would have a mutiny on my hands if I ever stopped getting them pizza. But, while weekly free pizza is a wonderful perk, it can’t be the most important selling point for students considering joining our staff.
When it comes to recruiting for your staff, you have to be able to answer the questions “Why Should I Work for You?” This is the question students will ask themselves when you make them aware of an employment opportunity. They’ll ask themselves “What’s in it for me?” If your answer is “free pizza,” you’ll get a bunch of people who are just there for the pizza, according to Candace Baltz, director of the Orange Media Network at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.
Instead of “you’ll get free pizza,” you want to be sure you set honest, accurate expectations to attract the kind of people who are genuinely interested in working for your publications, Candace said.
When recruiting for your staff, it’s important to focus on intrinsic motivators like self improvement, not extrinsic things like money or food, Candace said.
Focusing on extrinsic factors means you’ll get a lot of staffers, but they’ll disappear when there’s actually work to do, Candace said.
Candace advises editors to make a list of the top things students gain from working on your staff and use it for your recruiting. The list should include hard skills, which are things like learning to edit video or create podcasts, and soft skills, which are things like leadership, critical thinking and the ability to problem solve.
Hard skills get your resume noticed, while soft skills get you hired, keep you employed and result in promotions, Candace said.
Think about it. Why should a student work for you? Discuss it with your editors and make a list. Share the list with your staff and encourage everyone to use it when promoting your publications to potential staffers.