My first experience with the funeral service profession was in 1993, when my marketing agency began working with a funeral home client. I was soon fascinated – no, enamored – with the profession. Following several successful marketing and public relations initiatives, I asked the owner of the funeral home about what it takes to become a funeral director. He said he predicted we’d have this conversation because of my obvious passion for the business and asked why I’d never considered a career in funeral service before.
Of all the representatives that came to my high school to generate interest in employment in their fields or companies, none were funeral directors. Professionals from financial services, law enforcement, fire/EMS, engineering, the medical and legal fields and members of the Armed Forces all recruit high school students on a regular basis. Funeral home owners and preneed professionals also have the opportunity to spark interest in our field by promoting what you do in high schools, area colleges and youth organizations.
If we do not cultivate interest in funeral service as a career, the profession will find itself lacking committed, qualified candidates who can help promote the value of funeral service. Here are a few suggestions that can help your firm, your community and the profession long into the future:
1. Participate in high school career days.
Take advantage of opportunities to talk about your passion, the history of funeral service and the path to becoming a funeral professional. Work with mortuary schools to obtain literature and information about programs and financial aid opportunities and share those at career days.
2. Create scholarship programs.
Set up and promote scholarship programs for graduating high school seniors, and offer incentives for students who pursue mortuary science.
3. Don’t limit opportunities.
A career in funeral service might also include support positions in a funeral home such as operations, accounting, office management and, of course, advance funeral planning. Many funeral directors previously worked at funeral homes in capacities other than funeral directing.
4. Consider a job shadowing program.
One of the best ways to gain interest in a career is to provide opportunities to experience a “day in the life.” Offer this opportunity, which can spark the beginning of mentoring relationships, through your local high school guidance offices.
5. Offer to host tours.
Reach out to youth organizations such as high school business clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4-H and offer to host field trips to your funeral home.
6. Volunteer to lead youth organizations.
The more involved you are in local organizations, the more opportunities you’ll have to talk about what you do and why it’s valuable to the community.
While it’s important to get the funeral profession into the consciousness of our youth, let’s not forget that funeral service can also be a “second career.” Younger retired persons, especially those who served in public safety and healthcare, as clergy or in the military, are often excellent candidates for a rewarding career in funeral service. You’ll benefit from a mature perspective and experienced professionalism. Find these candidates through associations serving these fields.
Funeral service is evolving with the changing demands, attitudes and beliefs of today’s consumer. We cannot accommodate traditional or contemporary end-of-life needs if we don’t have qualified, committed people to carry on this important work. As a funeral professional, you can make it important by seeking out individuals who might consider a career in funeral service.
Dean Lambert is the Senior VP – Marketing & Communications for Homesteaders Life Company. He is a frequent presenter at funeral association events and has published numerous articles on funeral home marketing and PR. Click here to learn more about the leadership team at Homesteaders.
This post has been adapted from an article that appeared in the myHomesteaders newsletter.