March 3, 2009
Before future Soldiers can provide for the Army, the Army provides for its future Soldiers.
When recruiters approach potential recruits, they take into consideration multiple factors such as job experience, interests, college aspirations and tuition needs, or even cash bonus incentives.
However, concerned and skeptical citizens may find it difficult to approach a recruiter. That's where cyber-recruiting comes in.
The U.S. Army Recruiting Headquarters, at Fort Knox, Ky., houses more than 40 cyber-recruiters who work between 8 a.m. and midnight to help anyone with questions concerning the Army and how it takes care of its Soldiers.
"The concept of cyber-recruiting originated with a chat room," said John J. Dunlosky, Customer Support Communications Center branch manager at the recruiting headquarters. "Internet capability interlinked the voice of the U.S. Army with the American public to give them a forum where the public can ask questions, gain information and receive a professional answer."
With the cyber-recruiting concept, the Army can offer a unique answer to every question as opposed to variations of the same answer, he said.
Along with the chat rooms, cyber-recruiters can also offer one-on-one attention to possible recruits through the use of email. Through this medium, potential Soldiers can receive immediate, credible information through a more private exchange. A recruiter can provide information on jobs available, incentives, individual needs and other matters, Dunlosky explained.
"The representatives in our staff bring 500 years worth of Army experience to the table," he said. "If someone wants to know about aviation in the Army, I've got an ex-aviation guy sitting out there ready to answer questions, or if they want to know about infantry, ex-infantry guys are out there. Chances are we have someone who used to be in that job field out there to help out the future recruit."
Not only are potential recruits able to access the chat room, but their families and friends are also able to log on and obtain information as well. The cyber environment also allows for anonymity.
"Anybody can log in under whatever name they choose to pose questions they want answered," said Dunlosky. "As long as they maintain 'chat-etiquette,' they're welcome to come in and chat with each other or with the representatives."
In September 1999, the Army decided to reach out through the Internet to possible recruits in order to take advantage of a format that appeals to the current generation.
"Our first year, we only had 49,000 chat users," said George Silva, operations manager. "Since 9/11, cyber-recruiting has really picked up."
Cyber-recruiters have assisted in bringing more than 27,000 enlisted troops into the Army's ranks, according to the Cyber Recruiting Center.
"In time, recruiters began to look forward to the leads that we (cyber-recruiters) began to pick up," said Silva.
"All these employees are prior-service in the military and former recruiters," he said. "They're here to share their experiences, and they know what qualifications a future recruit must have to gain the job they want."
Recruiters continue working to build the ranks of today's fast and ready Army, and that means keeping up with today's generation and technology.
"Technology grows and society changes, so we grow and change with it," said Silva. "Everybody is fast paced."
Anyone who has questions or may be interested in the mentorship program to help new or future Soldiers can access information at: