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  • Writer's pictureJustin Grimes

Help me. I don't know How to recruit.

Updated: Jan 11

In today's competitive academic landscape, attracting diverse and intelligent talent to your graduate program is essential for its growth and success. However, let's face the truth: most faculty members lack the training and strategies for effective recruitment.


Faculty often navigate the recruitment process without proper guidance, relying on trial and error in the hopes of connecting with prospective students. Unfortunately, many departments and faculty members mistake admissions for recruitment, resulting in missed opportunities to engage and attract top-tier candidates.

Let's clarify the distinction:

Graduate School Admissions involves reviewing application materials and making enrollment decisions. It typically doesn't involve direct interaction with prospective students; it's about deciding who gets in.

On the other hand, Graduate Recruitment is all about attracting and engaging individuals to explore your graduate program actively. Recruiters may not always have insight into an applicant's status, whereas admissions committees do. Successful recruitment requires communication, email outreach, follow-ups, persuasion, and marketing of your graduate program to a diverse pool of prospective students. In essence, recruitment is a challenging but necessary task.

So, what can faculty and departments do to enhance their recruitment efforts?

Successful recruitment involves guiding master's and doctoral students through various stages:

  1. Program Visibility and Student Identification: Make your program known and identify potential candidates.

  2. Prospective and Application Stages: Engage with prospective students and guide them through the application process.

  3. Admission and Enrollment Stages: Streamline admitted students' admission and enrollment process.

Each stage demands distinct strategies and tactics.

Drawing from personal experience, I've found that effective recruitment requires a solutions-oriented approach. For instance, when I represented my program at graduate school fairs, I positioned myself in front of the table to create a more personable atmosphere. I visited the cafeteria, student center, bus stops, and local restaurants to discuss our graduate program. I pre-drafted emails to follow up with people I met, ensuring a swift and personalized response.

I understand the concerns that faculty and recruiters often have:

What do I say?

What if I'm an introvert?

What if I can't offer funding?

What if someone comes to my table?

These are valid questions, but they should be reframed into problem-solving queries:

What do introverts need to know about our program?

What do we offer beyond funding?

Where can I meet prospective students?

Solutions-oriented recruiters achieve the most success. To provide solutions, you must first identify the problems.

As mentioned, many programs aspire to diversify their applicant pool but lack a concrete plan to attract top talent. Our workshop, "TalentMagnet: Attracting Top Talent to Graduate Studies," offers faculty and departments valuable insights into crafting cost-effective, fully implemented student recruitment plans.

It's time to break the cycle of doing the same thing and hoping for different results. Let us help you reach domestic, underrepresented minoritized, and out-of-state individuals who are perfect candidates for your program.

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