What are the Important Components of Targeted Recruiting?

Professional recruiters know that being strategic about recruiting requires consideration of several elements, including making decisions that are aligned with your staffing or enrollment goals. A clearly defined recruitment strategy sets up a framework for focusing your efforts and planning beyond individual events or campaigns. The strategy defines what activities to concentrate on and what activities are unimportant.

Developing a strategic recruiting plan means going beyond specific tactics — like website development or a visit to a local university — to setting goals, finding partners, developing an evaluation plan, and developing and delivering materials.

Create a specific and quantifiable goal. Who do you want to reach? Is there a particular quality of student or employee? How many? Is there more than one target group? Once you have a goal in mind, it will be easier to implement a plan and develop a plan for tracking your progress.

Leverage existing efforts and relationships. Establish partnerships with people who already interact with your target audience and who are more likely to understand the audience’s needs. For example, research shows that family and teachers have significant influence on children’s academic and career choices. Training or informing teachers might get more “bang for their buck” than trying to interact with every child. Leveraging existing relationships, like friendships or trusted authorities, can bring an important personal touch.

Message content should be based on research about your audience. What do they believe about IT careers or academic programs now? What are their current goals? Messages can pre-emptively overcome misconceptions while appealing to existing desires. For example, the Information and Computing Sciences School at UC-Irvine is planning an introductory programming course on biological applications of computing to take advantage of female students’ interest in biology. The course content will include information on computing careers within health and other biology-intensive settings. Craft a message that emphasizes content aimed specifically at the goals and interests of your target group, but remember to be truthful from the onset.




  • Target audience
  • Opinion leaders
  • Influencers


  • Needs, goals, interests of target sector
  • Challenging wisdom of typical choices
  • Truth in advertising

Method of Delivery

  • Medium, multiple media
  • Contact situation
  • Deliverer

Leveraging & Building Relationships

  • Existing efforts, contacts

Problems & Opposition

  • Costs, resources
  • Opposing viewpoints
  • Misconceptions
  • Competing pressures
  • Beliefs about whether they can belong

Time Frame, Timing, & Repetition

  • Typical planning, decision making
  • Multiple times
  • Imminent entry v. long-term influence

Use more than one way of getting the message across. The more times someone hears a message, and the more believable it is, the more likely they are to act on it. Take advantage of the media your audience pays attention to, but target the media of those who might influence them, too. And consider incentives and recognition for the influencers, like “teacher of the year.”

Keep in mind that a contact situation, the environment in which you meet with your target audience, will influence how your audience members interact with you. People have multiple identities and the priority each is given changes by age group. For example, middle school kids might feel strong pressure to conform in a group, but might be more persuadable in another context. Contact should be made by a credible person and information source.


  • Barker, L. J., Snow, E. S., Garvin-Doxas, K. & Weston, T. (2006). Recruiting middle school girls into IT: Data on girls’ perceptions and experiences from a mixed demographic group. In Cohoon, J. M. and W. Aspray (Eds.) Women and Information Technology: Research on Under-representation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 115-136.
  • National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology, and Sciences Recruitment Strategies: http://www.iwitts.com/html/recruiting_strategies.html

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Authors: Lecia Barker