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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Recruiting 
So I sat down in a recruiter's office today and said "how's biz?"

"Slow!" he said. I asked him what the most common objections he was seeing were, and, same as other recruiters I've spoken with, says it's not the kids who are enlisting. It's the parents. "The TV news is killing us!"

We talked a bit more, and eventually, he said he felt there was a problem with the way he was asked to recruit.

"They're asking us to spend time on high school campuses, and they're spending all the recruiting time and effort on high schoolers. That works in small towns where there's just not the same kind of opportunity as there is in Miami. Where there's just not as much going on!"

I agree with him. Miami-Dade is a different market than Osceola and Okeechobee counties.

Further problems with high school recruits:

1.) They take more babysitting on the part of the recruiter. "Two guys came in just the other day, and didn't even know their own Social Security Numbers. Of course they wouldn't! They're seventeen years old!" But they can't take the ASVAB unless they can fill in their own SSN on the test. That's a deal stopper, unless the recruit's extra motivated,

2.) They can take up to two years to actually reach the unit. That's a long time to wait before a recruiter's work pays off with a soldier in combat boots in a TO&E unit.

3.) If the primary objections are coming from parents, there is no way to get around that with high schoolers. It's a show-stopper. Only by focusing on older prospects can you neutralize understandable parental protectionism, by focusing on patriotism and civic duty.

4.) Parental objection problems are particularly acute in areas where military service is not a family tradition. One of the best predictors of whether a youngster will enlist is if one or more of his or her parents also served. Military families are commonplace in small towns. They are few and far between in the cities.

I need to talk to some other big-city recruiters and see what sorts of techniques were effective for them.

Splash, out

Jason

Comments:
The station commander at my local recruiting station is upbeat, but when you talk to his guys, they sing the same tune. City parents think their kids are too good for the military. One recruiting Sergeant says all the current crop of troops in-process are prior service getting back into the fight, with the excelption of one HS National Guardsman.
 
How about not encouraging recruits to lie about minor injuries or surgeries? That ended my brief recruiting experience.
 
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