It’s common knowledge that most local youth sports leagues and/or teams are run, staffed and assisted by volunteers. Without the knowledge, enthusiasm, and time commitment these folks’ make, our children may not have as many opportunities to participate in youth sports.

While many local leagues may have a roster of regulars who return year after year to help out, other leagues simply do not. Still, various leagues and teams may fall victim to parents advancing to coaching other teams as their children age.

This turnover, however it happens, is normal but isn’t easy to handle. Really, it all comes down to recruiting: How do you spread the word about your organization and how do you attract the right kinds of coaches and volunteers?

You need to, at the very least, think about creating a candidate experience. This term is often used in Human Resources circle for paying positions, but for the sake of staffing your youth sports league/team, we think it fits well, too.

We’re not saying you need to commit to one right away, but even acknowledging the following is a start:

  1. You don’t have one
  2. You want one
  3. You’d like more information on how to establish one

This white paper from a group called NorthCoast 99 is an excellent resource for beginners. They define a candidate experience as this: “impressions and perceptions that are created by the experiences a job candidate has as she or he applies for, and is considered, for a job.”

A candidate’s experience begins with the first communication they read or hear about.

  • Was there a positive or negative article about your team in the local paper?
  • Do you publish a community-outreach newsletter?
  • Did your volunteer vacancy postings have a spelling or grammar error?
  • Did it use inventive language and offer specific requirements and details?
  • Where did you post your volunteer vacancies? On flyers? Word of mouth? In stores? Facebook? Twitter? Craiglist?

All of these ingredients begin influencing a candidate’s taste from the first exposure.

If you don’t think your candidate experience matters, check out this piece from Active Screening. There are plenty of things that can turn potential volunteers off:

  • Insanely slow communication
  • Ridiculously long applications
  • Internet tests that turn out to be timed AFTER the candidate has logged in
  • Rude interviewers
  • Non-transparent hiring practices
  • Not notifying a candidate when they don’t get a position
  • Illegal interview questions

An interview training and software company called Take The Interview runs a supremely informative blog on candidate experience, among other hiring essentials. They say the best way to examine your existing candidate experience (if you have already attempted to define and/or standardize one OR you just want to know what it feels like to go through the hiring steps at your company) is to ‘shop’ your acquisition process.

If you haven’t already, try to formulate a standardized hiring plan. Here’s how you do it:

Start with the vacancy posting. The more descriptive the better. We like this paragraph from a previous post on optimizing the hiring process: “More descriptive definitions attract candidates who feel they fit those qualifications, and weed out candidates who don’t. Example: Someone who likes to work independently may not want to apply for a job that stresses lots of “teamwork” or “group projects.””

Take it to the people. More volunteers are actively searching online and through mobile devices for opportunities. Make sure your open position advertisements are formatted correctly to look good on these job boards or on social media.

Examine your interview process. Who handles inquiry phone calls and sets up interviews or informational meetings? Are they personable? Friendly? Knowledgeable? Do you have a set of routine questions to ask every candidate? Do you incorporate questions that showcase your workplace culture and seek to find out your volunteers’ ideal work environment, likes and dislikes, time constraints, and other limitations? There is usually lots of room for improvement in this arena so take your time.

Communication is a two-way street. As much as you expect your candidate to be on time, have paperwork filled out, look the part, use proper grammar, be a good speller, etc. etc., they are expecting the same thing of your organization. Be courteous. Be on time. Be informative. Be willing to answer questions. Just be professional about the whole thing. Because if the person doesn’t get accepted as a volunteer and they had a horrible experience, they’ll spread the word.

Every candidate experience should include a background check. You have an obligation to verify a candidate’s honesty and consistency and help keep the children and other community members with whom you work and represent, safe. Youth sports organizations should also make clear that every volunteer, coach, and staff member will have to pass a child safety training class, too. Contact one of our team members at Protect Youth Sports to get started!

Re-visit your volunteer recruiting and on-boarding processes fairly regularly.

Protect Youth Sports believes in your mission to provide a safe, engaging, fun and competitive environment for young athletes. It’s why we’re so passionate about helping you attract the best volunteers and keeping everyone associated with your group safe. If you have more questions about implementing a positive candidate experience, and how to incorporate background checks and child safety training into your candidate experience, we’d love to talk with you. Give us a call today at 877.319.5587.