This is going to be one of those posts that piss some people off. That is not the intention. The reason for it is because it is unfortunate that these things happen.
My department is hiring…the physical test is being held (a couple of days last week and one day coming up). Along with our department, two other departments are also hiring and many of the applicants are pooled into one list (depending on the departments they applied to). We have had less than 100 applicants pass the physical test. In all, from what I hear, there have been somewhere around 200 applicants show up for the CPAT test. Between the 2-3 departments, around two dozen will be hired. How do you like those odds.
I admit, my numbers could be off. I feel as though my source is reliable. I remember when there were hundreds who applied when I was hired. I don’t have an exact number, but the odds were much worse than a 1/5 chance of behind hired.
One of two things are failing here. If it isn’t one, it is the other. However, it could be both. There is no other reason for the poor turnout.
- Recruitment – Are we even recruiting at all? Statistics would show that we are not. 200 people? That is pitiful. Maybe no one knows we are testing.
- Perception – Maybe no one wants to work in these departments.
Let me elaborate…
Are we recruiting? I do not know. I like to think we are, but it isn’t apparent by the numbers of applicants we are generating. We obviously need to do more. Do potential applicants even know we are hiring? My department lists hiring as concurrent or ongoing. Since we switched to this format, I have not seen any advertised date of the application process ending. I have heard from more than one person who has applied only to find out the process ended months ago and they would have to wait a year for the next.
We should be listing our hiring process with a hard date of the application process ending. That should be advertised anywhere and everywhere. I would be proud to list it right here on FireCritic.com if I knew the dates.
Furthermore, we should be sharing this information on social media for all to see. I looked at the Facebook page of our department and did not see an announcement recently for hiring. The woman who updates our FB page does a great job…but maybe she is spread to thin. She has a multitude of responsibilities. Maybe she needs help.
Don’t get me wrong, I have seen advertising in the past, and I am not on the committee so I don’t know all they do. By all appearances, we could be much more effective.
If the problem isn’t with recruitment, it is with perception. My department is a great Fire/EMS Department. We have issues just like every other one. We are not perfect, but we get the job done very well. Our best asset is our personnel.
The economy has taken its toll on our pay and benefits just like many others. We fight on to be the best.
Our morale isn’t the best, but it could be a lot worse.
We are an urban department with all the good and bad that comes with working in State that doesn’t have annexation. There is no comparison of us to similar Cities in our neighboring State of North Carolina where the Cities are thriving on growth through annexation.
I wonder if our perception is the problem though. In our State, we compete for candidates with departments like Richmond (FD only, EMS is separate), Fairfax County (pay and benefits are among the many things that far exceed ours), Chesterfield and Henrico are other Counties that have many better facets than us, Cities in the Eastern part of the State that are probably similar but there are more to choose from. Locally, we are competing with brand new departments like Botetourt County, Franklin County, and Bedford County. All of these offer similar benefits with a much lower work load.
So maybe perception is that potential candidates would rather work elsewhere. If they only knew how much I loved my career, my department, my life. I truly do, even with all of the good and bad mixed in. After all, it is what we make of it…and I am making the best of it.
Then again, maybe I am the problem. Maybe I should offer to help out. After all, I would be happy to help out. The problem is that historically, when someone like me offers to help out, our ideas get swept under the rug. Later, it will become someone else’s idea; or the idea will just be stupid because of who offered it.
I am happy to walk the walk instead of simply talking the talk on here.
Am I alone? Does anyone else have this issue in their department?
Should I call my Chief and offer to help?