Recruiting for Your Student Organization

School year is coming to an end, and I am graduating have graduated (I waited before I published this one)!  Right before the end of the year is usually transition time for many student organizations because smart leaders understand the need to spend time transitioning and ramping up their young and fearless replacements.  During this time, applications are collected and students interview other students.  I have done this a few times, so I thought I will share one valuable lesson that I have learned about recruiting students.  The best students are the ones who do the most.

Not all the time, of course; but, when I used to interview other students, I would look very closely at their resume and figure out what they would be involved with in the coming school year in order to gauge if they can dedicate time and properly commit to my organization.  “Will you have enough time for BASES?”  “Where would BASES be on your list of priorities?”  I think these are valid questions and they make logical sense.  Looking back, however, I don’t think those students with less commitments necessarily outperformed.  In fact, my rockstar team members were also rockstars in their many other organizations.  Maybe it’s because these rockstars just prioritize extracurriculars over other things.  Maybe they just have greater capacity than others.  I don’t know.  What matters to me is that when it comes to choosing people to work with, the most important questions to me are: “can I trust her?” and “how can I make my organization be on the top of their priorities list?”

I think that’s what it ultimately comes down to – your job as a leader is to convince the best student organizers to prioritize you over the others.  Find common ground, align your goals, understand their motivations, inspire them with the mission of the organization and your vision for it this year.  That’s your challenge.  That’s why trust is important.  It does not matter how many commitments this person has – assuming that you manage to convince her that what you are working on is a worthy cause, can you confidently say that you can trust this person to carry out what is necessary to get the job done?  Anyway, I’m blabbering.  What do you think?

One thought on “Recruiting for Your Student Organization

  1. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

    I agree and love your conclusion. To inspire them through your mission and vision is an important part in inspiring members and contributors to “give it their all” (aside from personal motivation). Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences as a leader looking for new talent. It’s interesting that the Rockstars do better even when seemingly overbooked. I suppose part of it is because Rockstars have built a culture of efficiency and results-oriented actions, whereas many others have not. So, a Rockstar overbooked might still perform better than a novice underbooked simply because the novice doesn’t know what to do to succeed.

    I think it important to hire Rockstars but also to build others into leaders. Although the latter takes time and many hours in training, it’s well worth it in the long run. The biggest company I admire is GE, who is one of the only and most successful conglomerates (having their hand in real estate, finance, engineering, etcetera). Upon reading speculations on their success, it is suggested they are successful because they know how to build great leaders. That simple.

    I find those two options to be opportune (in theory :P, sorry – not that experienced yet): (1) build great leaders within your team and (2) hire great leaders / Rockstars.

    *apologies: I use leaders and Rockstars synonymously many times in this post. Let me know if you have trouble distinguishing and I’ll go back.

    best, – Ry

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