College Recruiting For Coaches

Bye, Millennials: How To Recruit Generation Z To Your Team

student-athlete checks phone before meeting with a college coach

(Flickr – Francisco Osorio)

Coaches heading into spring and summer are looking at the upcoming recruiting classes and building plans about the next year of recruiting and the available prospects. It is time to decide how to identify the next group of prospects, what the strategy should be once connections are be made, and figure out how and when to close the deal with recruits that are the right fit.

This summer, recruiting freshmen and sophomores brings on a whole new generation: Welcome, Generation Z! And with a new generation comes a new personality and potentially some tweaks to your recruiting strategy:

Know Where to Find Them

Typically, finding quality prospects can come through a variety of channels: high school or club events, through questionnaires and recruiting e-mails, or through recruiting technology (such as NCSA Athletic Recruiting, BeRecruited or even just plain old YouTube).

When it comes to finding prospects that are part of Generation Z, be ready to find them online. And not just the e-mail only version of online. They’re on multiple social media platforms and are constantly connected.

This generation of recruits has never lived in a world without high-speed internet, cell phones or social media. (What?!) They are extremely comfortable with communicating digitally and, due to their familiarity with social media, they are more likely to expect immediate responses and communication. Waiting for e-mails is not something they have ever had to do!

Understand What Drives Them

A major consideration coaches have to make when recruiting Generation Z prospects is to accurately identify what is driving them in their pursuit to compete at the college level.

There are few critical factors that go in to determining the motivating factor in Generation Z recruits. We recently posted a Dan Tudor OnDemand webinar about the pressure Gen Z recruits currently feel to commit early. Here’s some of what we learned:

  1. They feel an intense need to commit early.
  2. They are much closer with their families than millennials – their parents/guardians are very important in their decision making process.
  3. Their decisions aren’t always based in fact or logical reasoning.
  4. They’re easily intimidated by the recruiting process and might be afraid to be confront you with questions or issues.

Speak Their Language

Communicating with Gen Z recruits has become more of an art form than anyone every thought possible. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Gen Z prospects prefer content that is interactive. They identify with art, fashion, and video content more than written communication. As a result, they are more likely to interact with a video or photo over an e-mail or large blocks of text
  • Gen Z is known for getting to the point right away – they abbreviate words, want instant access to information, etc. so be ready to keep your message short and direct.
  • Gen Z prospects are more mature than you think they are! Communicate with them as if they’re adults and you’ll build better trust with them
  • While millennials were focused on the NOW, Generation Z focuses on the future. They are very aware of current trends in education and employment so speaking to them about how to reach their career and life goals will go a long way.

If you’re struggling with recruiting new freshmen and sophomores, you can also draw inspiration from a few of your own. A great and recent example is Coach David Beaty, of KU Football, who has built out an entire digital presence for his program via Twitter.

In doing this, Coach Beaty has clearly identified where prospects spend time and embraced it as part of his recruiting strategy. Finding coaches and programs with a great social presence just takes a little research and could be a great project for your newest GA…who is likely already texting in full emojis and has a gaggle of Twitter followers.

So a big welcome to the next generation of recruits, Generation Z. And may the odds be ever in your favor.


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About the author
Ingrid Rockovich