I. In Focus This Week
Using LinkedIn to recruit poll workers
Site is second-most used social-networking site
Special to electionlineWeekly
Recruiting enough qualified poll workers for any election, let alone a presidential election, is a daunting challenge for many jurisdictions.
Of the 43 election administrators the National Conference on State Legislatures (NCSL) has interviewed in the last few years, 15 ranked poll worker recruitment as their biggest challenge.
While there is no silver bullet that will make the problem disappear, one approach used by some jurisdictions – and which could be used by more – is recruiting poll workers through LinkedIn.
There are 10 ways election officials can use LinkedIn to recruit more and/or better poll workers. These ways are innovative and unique; sustainable and effective; offer a “big bang for buck” and can be readily duplicated or increased in scale.
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service used primarily for professional networking, particularly recruitment. Reaching out to individuals to hire (and be hired) is its sweet spot. In fact, 22 percent of Internet users over age 18 have used LinkedIn, making it the second-most used social network among adults (after Facebook).
Here are 10 ways election administrators can use LinkedIn to recruit poll workers:
- To develop and expand a personal network of individuals to whom an office can send a request for a referral of a recommended poll worker for a particular position. LinkedIn has members from all 500 of the Fortune 500 companies, encompasses 130 different industries, and includes well over 100,000 recruiters. Developing such a network through LinkedIn could, for example, help recruit bilingual poll workers to assist voters who aren’t comfortable conversing in English.
Having such a network also allows you to build a virtual referral chain, so that people will actually make referrals – taking the time to think of possible candidates/prospects in response to a query, or even proactively referring people to you when they hear of a need.
- To stay in touch with previous colleagues for potential future employment relationships. LinkedIn helps professionals stay in touch with people who have worked for them or with them in the past. These people could themselves be future poll workers and/or provide referrals to potential poll workers.
- To actively search for candidates among LinkedIn members by searching on keywords for people who include the required qualifications in their LinkedIn profiles. Professionals on LinkedIn are encouraged to develop keyword rich, comprehensive profiles. Election officials need poll workers who possess a variety of skills, such as people skills, customer service, and problem solving. LinkedIn allows elections officials to search for individuals who possess the right combination of skills and experience. Election officials need to be sure to share their contact information on LinkedIn to make it easier for prospective poll workers to contact them.
- To develop a complete, keyword-rich profile for your office on LinkedIn. People looking for employment on LinkedIn also search LinkedIn by keywords. They may be looking at company profiles to make up lists of companies for whom they’d like to work, or browsing for opportunities that could use someone with their background.
Some will say that poll work is different than typical employment opportunities because it’s temporary and pays relatively little. That’s true. However, there are a number of reasons someone might be interested in serving as a poll worker. It may help an individual acquire experience that he/she doesn’t already have, such as management skills if he/she becomes a chief judge. It allows people to give back to the community in a tangible, positive way that’s bigger than themselves. People from all walks of life volunteer for a variety of causes, including helping out at a local church, assisting a schools PTA, or serving on the board of an organization. Being a poll worker can offer similar benefits and satisfaction.
- To identify potential poll workers who contact you through LinkedIn’s mailing system, Inmail. Such individuals could be social media savvy candidates who can help you in on election day if there’s critical information that needs to be disseminated quickly, such as inclement weather or a power outage at a polling place. An efficient way to get the word out is via social media, so a LinkedIn-native poll worker would be an asset.
- To search for potential poll workers by past or current employer, such as other election or government offices. It’s important not to re-invent the wheel unnecessarily. For example, there are myriad civic-mind organizations, such as the League of Women Voters, that deploy large groups of individuals to assist voters in the run up to and on Election Day. Identifying these individuals, contacting them and showing them how serving as a poll worker would build on their previous experiences is critical. It gives election officials access to workers who are passionate about elections, and increases the experience and diversity of the workforce.
- To search for poll workers based on recommendations and references from sources you trust. In the past, the predominant way an employer would get a prospective candidates’ references – and an affirmation for their previous job performance – was to ask for references towards the ends of a candidate’s application process. With LinkedIn, employers can often see some prospective employees’ references right on their profile, which is far more efficient, and makes it easier for election officials to quickly determine if a prospective poll worker is qualified.
- To ask current co-workers to activate their networks to reach out to potential passive poll worker candidates for jobs. As election officials know all too well, not everyone is actively looking to be a poll worker. But many people are open to discussing the opportunity, and your co-workers can help make the case to others about why being a poll worker is a good opportunity. It allows certain folks to get community service credit and others to be paid a little money. It allows some individuals to meet new people and others to reunite with old friends and/or colleagues. Employee referrals are valued because most employees will only refer people with whom they want to work.
- To use Inmail, the internal inbox at LinkedIn, to request assistance from your network or selected professionals to find qualified candidates for the positions (such as Chief Judge) that require more experience and more technical skills. In fact, 38% of college-educated adults have used LinkedIn, making it an ideal social network to find more skilled poll workers. Additionally, LinkedIn is the only social network with more 50-to-64 year-olds than 18-to-29 year-olds, making it more likely to find people with management experience to staff your polling place.
- To join groups at LinkedIn. Participants in groups may share interests, memberships, specializations, backgrounds, and experience that you seek in a potential employee. Group members may also know of a potential employee with the profile you seek.
There are many, many ways to recruit poll workers. They can come from a jurisdiction’s internal database, referrals, cold-calls, or other non-online networking associations, to name a few. LinkedIn is not a substitute for these, but it is a serious recruit networking source that jurisdictions can use efficiently and at low cost to fill their poll worker ranks.
David Levine is an Election Management Consultant who has administered county, state, federal and private sector elections; developed election policy for non-profit organizations; and monitored elections in other countries. His expertise includes voter registration, election administration, poll worker training, outreach, research design and evaluation, voting system standards, logic and accuracy testing, post-election audits, voting accessibility, evaluating proposals and voting technology.
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