5 Tips For An Effective Fellowship Recruitment

Apr 26, 2022

With over 2,500 fellowships and fully funded graduate programs in ProFellow’s free online database and hundreds of fellowship advertising campaigns under our belt, we at ProFellow have seen promotions that excite and motivate fellowship seekers, as well as promotions that have been much less effective at inspiring prospective applicants to take action. 

While every program is different and each target audience is unique, we’ve noticed that successful campaigns are guided by a few core principles. Here are 5 key tips every organization should consider when promoting their fellowship.

1. Advertise 2-6 Months in Advance of Your Deadline

The early bird gets the applicants! More fellowship seekers can be reached when you start advertising your program at least two months before the deadline. Allowing only a few weeks for applicants to discover the program, research the benefits and requirements, and devote themselves to developing a strong application puts your ideal candidates at a disadvantage.

Your best candidates will put significant effort into their application. If they don’t have enough time to do so, they may not apply at all! We recommend starting your advertising and recruitment campaigns well in advance of your deadline to help spread the word more broadly and effectively.

2. Make Your Program’s Website “Evergreen”

Make a permanent webpage for your annually recurring fellowships and programs so applicants can find the program information at any time of year. Some organizations have the habit of removing fellowship information pages when the application is closed. This is a big mistake! If fellowship seekers bookmark your page to be ready for the next recruitment cycle, you don’t want them to be redirected to an error message or page with expired information and deadlines.

We keep ProFellow’s fellowship database listings “evergreen” so fellowship seekers can bookmark opportunities for long-term career and application planning. In fact, many fellowship winners identified their fellowship program 2-3 years before they applied! When seekers have access to the requirements and benefits of your program year-round, they are more likely to be prepared for your next application season. 

ProFellow Tip: Have a mailing list sign-up on your website so visitors at any time of year can be alerted when your applications open. (Want to add your fellowship to ProFellow’s free database? Contact us here!)

3. Choose a Clear Program Name

Your fellowship name says a lot about your program, and if it isn’t clear what the opportunity is or who it’s for, you might not grab the attention of highly qualified candidates! At ProFellow, we encourage programs to advertise with a clear and descriptive program name, if possible. This might include adding eligibility words like “emerging leaders,” “mid-career” or “scholars,” or discipline words like “social justice,” “entrepreneurship,” or “journalism” to your program title.

If you can’t change your program name, just be sure to add clear and descriptive information about the format and focus of the program and who the program is for in the text that comes just after your title.

4. Leverage Your Fellowship Alumni Network

Some of the best recruiters in your network will be previous fellows! At ProFellow, we’ve found that fellowship organizations attract most of their candidates through word-of-mouth promotion via their alumni and partner networks. Your fellows have intimate experience with the program and will know precisely what kinds of individuals will thrive in the environment. Ask alumni to share the call for applications on their social media pages, attend info sessions to speak about their experience, and/or participate in interviews to share application tips!

That said, it’s important not to rely solely on internal networks for your recruitment, as this can lead to the exclusion of diverse candidates from your applicant pool.  

5. Have a Deliberate Approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

While most programs are open to candidates of all races, genders, and socio-economic statuses, some candidates may still view your opportunity as exclusive because of how your  program is positioned in your marketing. In your promotional and recruitment materials, use imagery and language that reflects the desire to recruit applicants from underrepresented backgrounds. Descriptive words like “prestigious” and “competitive” can actually turn away great candidates who have historically been impacted by institutionalized bias and excluded from elite opportunities. Long-term, you’ll receive more diverse candidates when DEI is also authentically incorporated into your programming, staffing, and leadership. 

If you’d like to learn more about how fellowship organizations are approaching DEI, check out ProFellow’s Fellowship Industry Report: Industry Trends and Approaches to Impact Evaluation and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Leading a successful recruitment cycle requires a lot of consideration and effort, and these five tips are just the start! If you’re interested in learning more of our insider knowledge on how to appeal to fellowship seekers, consider connecting with us about ProFellow’s unique advertising opportunities. We would love to hear from you!

© ProFellow 2022, all rights reserved