Dan Tudor

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Why Your Recruiting Message Needs More Verbs, Less AdjectivesMonday, March 12th, 2012

When it comes to revising the way your current batch of recruiting letters and emails sound, there’s an easy formula that you should follow to ensure they get read by your prospects.

It’s all about what word choices you use to drive the conversation in those messages.  And while many coaches might immediately run to more descriptive adjectives to add to their letter and email copy (“we’ve got a really beautiful new facility!”), I’m going to recommend a different approach:


Verbs are action, while adjectives are descriptive.  Action beats descriptions every time in the mind of your prospects.

You can even look to the hallowed halls of Harvard, where business school applications that contain verbs stand-out compared to those that try to use adjectives to describe the accomplishments of those applying (Dee Leopold is one of the people who judge the incoming essays and applications to the business school at Harvard, and says the best recommendations have lots of verbs, pointing out that reference letters that state “She did this” beat those that try to use adjectives to describe applicants).

Roger Dooley, a marketing expert that specializes in how the brain receives sales messages, explains why verbs are so effective this way:

“There are multiple reasons to choose verbs over adjectives.  First, adjectives on their own don’t say all that much and are easy to throw in without real justification.  Describing someone as “dedicated, focused, and creative” is a quick way to satisfy the need for a favorable comment and get the recommendation on its way.

Similarly, a product could be, “economical, long-lasting, and easy to use.”  In both cases, though, the reader has nothing to go on other than the word of the writer, who is almost certainly biased in favor of creating a good impression.  Vague positive characteristics will get filtered out as puffery.

Action verbs force the writer to get specific – “created a series of ads,” “led a team of engineers,” “worked through a holiday,” and so on require actual examples of the behaviors or characteristics in question.  A product might “outlast other brands by 10,000 hours,” or “cut maintenance costs by 25%.”  These specifics will increase the credibility of the copy, in addition to providing more information that when the adjective-driven shortcut is taken.

The take-away from all of this is pretty straight forward when it comes to crafting better recruiting messages for your prospects:

  • Focus on present day action within your program.
  • Create a feeling of present-tense action in your letters and emails, and try to include the idea that your prospect can (and should) be a part of that action that is happening.
  • If you use adjectives, use them sparingly.
  • Dooley points out the verbs force you, the writer, to get specific.  What should you be specific about?  I’d suggest focusing on the personality of your team, the vision for your program, why they’ll love your team once they get to know them, and – most importantly – your plan for the prospect if they choose your program.

The best place to start?  Well, you can have us help create that message, of course.  But if you want to tackle that project yourself, I’d recommend taking your current letters and emails and looking to eliminate most of the adjectives, while adding action-oriented verbs to your copy.  Convert the context of whatever you happen to be talking about in those messages to present-tense verbs that denote energy, movement and momentum.

Verbs give your prospects the feeling of positive energy within your program, and do a much better job of selling your program to your recruits while giving them clear ideas as to why they should want to be a part of your program.

Getting ready to revamp your recruiting attack for this new class?  Let the experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies help!  We work with programs at all levels around the country, giving them research-based strategies and custom designed recruiting communication that gets results.  Click here for more information to see if our one-on-one help would make a difference for your program.

Do You Use Excel? This Recruiting Tool is Built for YOU!Monday, December 12th, 2011

Whether you chalk it up to old habits dying hard, or no budget to upgrade to a fancy new web-based recruiting management program, coaches all over the country still use Excel spreadsheets to track prospects.

The good news?  You can still easily integrate your use of Excel with some of the newer technology tools out there!

“We received over 1000 survey results from college coaches, and a large majority of them wanted the ability to integrate NCSA Athletic Recruiting with either Excel, or whatever their contact management system was”, said Ryan Newman, College Relations Coordinator.

“Little did they know, they already have this ability, and we’ve now made the integration better than ever—anything bit of information on a recruit you would need can instantaneously be transferred from NCSA right to Excel.”

Not only is NCSA Athletic Recruiting compatible with commonly used programs like Excel, but fully integrated with Front Rush, which the majority of coaches seem to now use to manage their recruiting databases.  If you have a Front Rush account you can simply click the “Add to Front Rush Button” after evaluating any NCSA prospect online through your free coach account most programs have set-up.

“We find a lot of coaches have utilized Front Rush for their contact management”, said Newman.  “The way I see it, NCSA is the best way to search, evaluate, and find potential recruits.  At that point it is up to college coaches to actually contact with the kid, get him on campus, and so on.  That’s where Front Rush comes in, and having the ability to mesh both resources, has really streamlined the process for college coaches.”

Learn how to export data from NCSA to Excel, AND learn how to import excel data into your NCSA Recruiting Board in this short video clip: How to Export and Import to Excel

Recruiting Service Setting a New Standard in Helping College CoachesMonday, March 31st, 2008

For years, recruiting services have enjoyed a love-hate relationship with college coaches.

On the one hand, coaches love good information on good prospects that they didn’t know about before.  But one of the big complaints over the years has been all of the information that came to coaches that didn’t match their specific needs.  Kids that were too far away, or too slow, or too short, or didn’t score enough on the SAT.

But now, twenty years after the advent of recruiting services became part of the college recruiting landscape, one Chicago-based recruiting service seems to have figured out how to serve college coaches through technology and expert assistance.

Chris Krause, NCSA"We’re really trying to take serving college coaches to the next level," says Chris Krause, Founder and President of the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA).  "We have a full-time team of former college athletes and coaches who really understand what recruiters go through in trying to find good prospects for their programs.  We think we’re giving college coaches some tremendous tools to use when they recruit."

Krause’s organization employees nearly 70 people, most of whom are former college athletes.  That gives them a unique perspective into the process, and an understanding of what level student-athletes should be aiming for when it comes to college programs.

"We are really careful to match high school prospects with a NCSA Recruiting Coach that is an expert in their sport and has played in college," says Krause.  "We’re also unique in that each athlete that wants us to assist them has to submit a verified transcript.  That way, when a college coach is interested in one of our pre-qualified prospects, they have everything they need to know to begin the recruiting process."

Three unique features of NCSA have college coaches singing their praises:

  • They have a process called "Recruit Match", which allows coaches to set filters for what kinds of prospects they will be sent.  Once they have an athlete’s information in hand, they can view streaming video, get a copy of the athlete’s transcript, and view up-to-date statistical information.  All of this information comes to coaches using the criteria that they have set in the NCSA system, eliminating unwanted prospects flooding their Inbox.
  • NCSA’s "Virtual Tryout" feature allows coaches to view extended streaming video highlights of prospects immediately.  Not having to wait for a prospect to send DVD’s of their highlights, or viewing highlights before they contact an athlete, is something that sets this service apart from the others.Lisa Meyers, NCSA
  • College coaches don’t have to limit their contact with this organization to just online communication.  "We want coaches to call and tell us what they need," says Lisa Meyers, a former Yale Ice Hockey athlete who now runs NCSA’s recruiting coach department.  "We want to take the time to get to know what they want, and how we can funnel the right prospects to them for their consideration."

One end result of NCSA’s attention to detail is this amazing statistic: Only 3% of NCSA athletes that are placed at a college end up transferring or dropping-out, compared with the national average of more than 60% of college students who do so.

Want to give NCSA your own unique RecruitMatch settings and get access to their database of pre-qualified prospects?  Click here or call them at 1-888-333-6846. 

If you are searching for a great start to your 2008-2009 recruiting year, NCSA has a special link (click here) to have you submit your requests so that they can conduct a customized search for a recruit that fits your criteria.