Combating Common Recruitment Myths for Advisors

by Taylor Deer

Being a recruitment advisor can be overwhelming. This is especially true if your “real” job has nothing to do with fraternity or sorority recruitment. Most advisors simply fall back on what they know from their student experience, and that’s a problem.

Not many people were going through their undergraduate recruitment career thinking, “I’m going to be a recruitment advisor someday, so I better write these intricate processes down, and cross reference my notes with successful chapters, and stay up-to-date on the latest nationwide trends.”

If you did all that as an undergraduate, please move on and start your fortune telling career, smarty pants.

For the mere mortals who are just doing their best as recruitment advisors, we can help. In the last 15+ years in the industry, we have evolved, adapted, and innovated our curriculum every year based on current trends on college campuses. Our strategy, called Dynamic Recruitment, is a year-round, values based, relationship centered, proactive framework on how to grow undergraduate fraternity and sorority membership.

In other words, we love recruitment, and we are here to help.

We know the truth hurts sometimes. In recruitment, the truth can hurt so bad that chapters make up myths to help them ignore it. These myths may take on different names like “our truth” or “the way we’ve always done it”. These myths help justify their decisions so they can sleep well at night avoiding the truth.

As an advisor, it might feel good to jump on board with these myths, because you will score a few points with the chapter. But myths just help them run further away from something. They need the truth, even though it may hurt, because it is worth embracing.

Here are 3 myths I’ve heard consistently from chapters, what they want you to say as their advisor, and how you fight back with the truth:

Myth #1: That’s just not the way it’s done around here

  • What they are hoping you say in response: “Oh, okay, just keep doing the same stuff everyone else does so you don’t have to be the weirdos that tried something new for once.”
  • The truth is: That may not be how it’s done around here, but that doesn’t automatically make it right. Everything is weird until it becomes the normal. Like wearing shoes on your feet. Someone had to be the first person to wear shoes on their feet. Everyone else was like “Pffff, look at that wierdo wearing stuff on his feet”, until they went back and tried it out in their own hut and realized how awesome it was not to cut your feet on rocks all the time.

Myth #2: People just don’t want to join fraternities at this school

  • What they’re hoping you say in response: I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s their fault, definitely not yours. You did all you could. It’s totally fine that you didn’t meet your recruitment goals yet in the last three years.
  • The Truth is: Fraternity and sorority’s main demographic is “people who didn’t want to join Greek Life”. Ask any chapter member to raise their hands if “they had no intention of joining before they came to school or applied to college”, and most of them will raise their hands. If a chapter tells you this myth say “OK, if 10% of the campus is affiliated already, that must mean that 90% of the campus doesn’t want to join fraternities or sororities. Perfect! It sounds like there’s a lot of potential new members out there. Let’s go find them.” We know from experience is that people join people, they don’t join fraternities or sororities. Now the question becomes, how can this chapter intentionally build relationships with the 90% of people who don’t want to join fraternity/sorority life on campus. Look for tips and tricks in the next blog.

Myth #3: We’re about Quality not Quantity

  • What they’re hoping you say in response: Oh okay perfect! Let’s forget recruitment this year then, things are really working for you! You met five people, and gave bids to five people?! Wow, how did you manage to randomly bump into the best 5 people on campus?
  • The Truth is: You can’t just say that you’re about quality, not quantity. You must prove it. There are two immediate things you need to look at when a chapter parades the quality flag.
  • First, assess their names list. If they had 100 people interested in joining, and they intentionally took the top 5 out of 100, that’s awesome. But it’s more like they only met 5 people, they seemed cool, so they took them in, then afterwards they decided they were the best guys on campus.
  • The second thing you should look at is their criteria for membership. Before or during bid discussions, do they have an articulated strategy of who they are going to select and why? Or do they all have their own “idea” of who should be let in, argue about it, then get bored and say “You know what? They’re cool, just give them a bid and let’s move on”. Only if a chapter has a high quantity of candidates, and intentionality, can we really say yes, they are about quality.

The first trial you are going to have to face in being an advisor is digging through the myths in search of the truth. In my experience, it’s a rare chapter that comes to you with a developed sense of self-awareness. It’s tough to own up to why your chapter is failing. It’s much easier to shove the blame in front of it, rather than standing face to face with it. Once you find what is REALLY holding a chapter back, only then can you start to help as their advisor.