What is “Values-Based Recruitment”?

by Matt Mattson

For decades the leaders of the fraternity/sorority community have implored chapters to engage in something called “Values-Based Recruitment.” But what is it?  How do you know if your chapter is doing it?

Good questions.  Let’s first say this.  Dynamic Recruitment (Phired Up’s philosophy) IS Values-Based Recruitment.  You can’t do Dynamic Recruitment without Values-Based Recruitment.  However, Dynamic Recruitment is more than just Values-Based Recruitment.  So there, that’s clear (If you want to learn about Dynamic Recruitment, check out our website, services, products and free resources at

*One other note: Some fraternal organizations have actually named their internal training and educational programs “Values-Based Recruitment” (see Sigma Nu.  Also, Sigma Kappa has a good resource similarly named).  This blog is more general, however — for all fraternities & sororities.

Now, how do you know if your chapter is doing Values-Based Recruitment.  We would suggest that your chapter must do all of the following in order to be a Values-Based Recruiting chapter.  If you have more ideas, share them with us via Facebook or Twitter.

1. Use a Values-Based Selection Criteria. This might be the most important requirement.  If you’re not using objective, values-based criteria for membership selection, then you’re choosing members for your chapter based on something other than values. Plain and simple.  Start here. Here’s a sample for fraternities and sororities.

2. Choose recruitment activities and behaviors that reflect the core values of your organization. If your ritual asks you to raise your right hand and promise to be honorable, charitable, truthful, noble, friendly, pure, scholarly, etc. — recruit in ways that directly reflect those characteristics.  If your recruitment strategy can’t be described by any of the words in your organization’s ritual or mission, then you’re not doing Values-Based Recruitment.

3. Engage in conversations with potential members that include topics related to your core values.
If, in order for someone to meet the standards of your Values-Based Selection Criteria, you need to know if they’re honorable — engage in conversation topics that unearth that information.  If your conversations are surface-level, shallow, boring, or without intention, there is a good chance you’re not doing Values-Based Recruitment.

4. Prior to bid acceptance, ask potential members for full commitment to the chapter’s values, mission, code of conduct, and requirements. Something like “The Two Handshakes” might do the trick.  Or perhaps a written “contract” of sorts so that there is no confusion.  Something we’ve learned while interviewing former members of fraternities and sororities is that they often quit because the actual experience of membership is different than what they thought it would be while they were being recruited.

Of course, all of this requires a) you to know your organization’s core values, b) your chapter members to know your organization’s core values, c) your chapter to consistently behave in accordance with your organization’s core values, and d) you to know how to TALK ABOUT your organization’s core values.

In Good Guys and I Heart Recruitment, we wrote about “ACE”ing your values — this is very closely related to “Values-Based Recruitment,” so you might want to check that out too. Values-Based Recruitment starts with you choosing to personally achieve, communicate and expect your organization’s values to be exemplified by yourself and your members at all times.  That’s a great place for you to get started.