Just Like With Kids, HR Can Benefit From Having “Prospect” Camps

In athletic recruitment there are these things called “Prospect” camps.

Depending on who you talk to, these are either just supplemental income for the coaching staff, or serious recruitment functions needed to get prospective student athletes on campus.

Whatever they are, they’re a little bit of genius!

When your kid becomes a “prospect”

Here’s how the entire system works: Usually an assistant coach emails your kid, who has a dream to play college athletics, that they are having a prospect camp and you’re invited to attend, for $150.

Two things just happened:

  1. Your kid just got an email from a college coach;
  2. That coach insinuated that your kid is a “prospect!”

Either way, there’s a good chance you’ll bite and pay the $150.

A couple of things happen at these camps. Coaches actually invite players they really do have interest in, and they invite anyone else who is willing to pay $150! So, a hundred kids show up, two or three which have actual ability to play college athletics, and they go through drills and modified games.

You instantly know who has ability because the coaches spend time with those kids. If your kid doesn’t have a coach talking to him or her, they don’t have ability. It’s a real quick and easy way to set your own expectations.

What about having HR prospect camps?

These camps are a necessary evil of the function of recruitment. While most parents don’t like them, they all pay the money and have their kids attend.

These prospect camps got me to thinking if we in HR could do this in our organizations.

Could we charge $150 to have potential employees come in and check us out, while we check them out? We could run them through some tests, show them our facilities, make them compete against others in their same job function, spend a little time with our employees. At the end of the day, we offer a couple of them jobs.

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Could it work? Maybe not for the average organization, but what about Google or Apple or some other big organization that has thousands wanting jobs with their company?

Yes, I think it could work there. The one issue we face is the expectation — “Well, I paid $150; what do I get for this?!”

A way to set your organization apart

We would have to deliver $150 worth of “value” in these Prospective Employee Camps. I think that is probably the easy part.

Think interview skills, resume skills, leadership skills, some hardcore job function skills based on what they actually do. It’s part self-development and part dating game. People pay millions of dollars per year to dating websites to find their perfect romantic match, with most failing to do so.

Prospective Employee Camps might just be a way for your organization to set itself a part from all the noise, and get candidates to come in that truly interested in (I’m willing to pay to be here, truly) and want to be a part of your organization.

I know, crazy idea, but when you see it work in one area it just begs to be tried in another!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


4 Comments on “Just Like With Kids, HR Can Benefit From Having “Prospect” Camps

    1. Jacque –

      I think it’s two fold. One, you charge because you’re giving something of value. Two, you charge to ensure you have people who really want to be a part of your brand, enough they would pay to do it. Definitely, not something that just any old company could do. You would have to have the right brand.


  1. A couple large companies actually already do this – though, right now it is focused towards minorities (gender, race, and sexuality). JP Morgan, for instance, hosts their “Winning Women” summit at their HQ in NYC (that you apply and interview to get accepted to), and if the day goes well a few offers are handed out for internships or FT. It would be interesting to see how this would function on a larger scale and how it would be implemented in smaller (yet still big – JPM is a pretty high bar) companies.

    1. Stefan,

      Interesting – I’ve never heard of the JP program, but it makes complete sense. When I was at Applebee’s we had internal female leadership programs, but never went external, which I think is the logical next step if you are serious about changing your mix.


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