By Ms. Fonda R Bock (USAREC)September 12, 2013
FORT KNOX, Ky. (Sept. 12, 2013) -- They are not the Rambos and James Bonds of the Army, so you won't see adventurous commercials of them falling out of airplanes in the dead of night -- their faces made unrecognizable by camouflage. They won't be selected for exotic missions to foreign places to take out high target enemies, and Hollywood likely won't be making any action packed films about them, their lives or their missions.
But make no mistake about it; recruiters are an elite group of Soldiers with an elite mission and not everyone can make the cut, said Recruiting Command Commanding General Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet.
"Without recruiters, there would be no Army," said Batschelet. "Recruiters are the Soldiers who fill the ranks of the Special Forces, provide the Army with engineers, medical personnel, mechanics, armor crewman air defense specialists, human resource specialists and all MOSs in between -- all the personnel it takes to man and maintain the greatest and strongest Army in the world."
To make the cut as a recruiter, Soldiers must meet stringent criteria. Any history of criminal conduct or domestic violence is a disqualifier. Because recruiters are the face of the Army to the American public, they must embody the Army Values, having the highest level of integrity.
"Recruiters have to be trustworthy," emphasizes Sgt. 1st Class David Woodruff with the Recruit the Recruiter team (RTR). "If you lose your reputation in a community, you're done, and that spreads like wildfire."
"Our recruiters are in a position of trust," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Osterson with RTR. "We can't afford not to have the best and most upstanding Soldiers interacting with youth, their families and the community. Having recruiters with high integrity is also important because recruiters recruit in their own image and if you're an upstanding individual, you'll bring in the high quality Soldiers our Army needs."
In addition to maintaining the highest level of integrity, the job also requires good people skills, drive, motivation and excellent leadership skills.
"It's a unique leadership role," said Woodruff. "You have to lead, inspire and motivate civilians to want to enlist based on information you have to share about the Army -- this requires that the recruiter be honest and genuinely care about the interests of others. You also have to be able to lead yourself with integrity, because about 80 percent of the time you're working out in the footprint away from command leadership."
It's no secret that recruiting can be extremely challenging. Finding qualified applicants isn't easy due to the fact that less than 1 in 4 individuals in the Army's target market doesn't qualify because of medical, ethical or educational issues.
But the job is not all about sacrifice; the rewards and benefits are many. For Soldiers weary of deploying, recruiting duty allows for stability for at least three years. It's also a chance to give back.
"To me that is a part of selfless service, giving somebody the chance to do some of the things you've gotten to do in the Army," said Osterson. "Recruiting is by far one of the most important and rewarding jobs you can have in the Army because you see people's lives change for the better and see them become stronger.
"A young woman whom I helped join was stationed in Korea. She wrote to tell me she had an apartment overlooking Seoul and that she loved it and was having a great time. It was just a rewarding feeling to know I helped make that possible. I feel very fortunate to have joined the Army and that's why I love recruiting."
The types of skills and experience to be gained from recruiting are numerous. Osterson, who joined the Army in 1998, was DA selected for recruiting after spending five and a half years as an armor crewman, 19K. He decided to convert to a 79R after just two years for a number of reasons.
He cites the satisfying feeling he gets from assisting young men and women in making a good career choice, he finds the stability of recruiting to be family friendly and said the skills he's acquired as a recruiter will make him more marketable in his job search as a civilian after he retires.
As a recruiter Osterson's learned how to analyze markets, network in the community, talk to people and do presentations. While studying for a degree in marketing, he found much of what he was being taught, he'd already learned on the job as a recruiter.
"For example, in recruiting we learn how to analyze markets using ZIP codes, who's joining in those areas and how to tailor our message toward those ZIP codes.
"For anyone who wants to own their own business, what better skills to have than to be able to know what your market is. Big business spends a lot of money on marketing and USAREC teaches it. When it comes to networking, you learn how to develop relationships and how to create rapport with individuals to accomplish your goals."
Earl Raehsler retired from the Army in 2010 as a company first sergeant after 24 years of service, and 13 years in recruiting. Shortly after retirement he was offered three jobs and during one job interview was hired on the spot to be the assistant director of admissions for the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management, even though he said he knew nothing about business.
"I was very self-confident during the interview, which I think in large part was due to my recruiting background, my leadership experience [and communication skills]," said Raehsler. "So it just came natural to me to talk about what I had done in the Army and how they could use my skills for this job.
"In talking with my dean, I found out there was no way I would have landed this job without the experience the Army and recruiting gave me. Those skills that I learned and became very good at are not taught out here, but are highly sought after."
Recruiting not only looks good on a resume in the civilian world but is also good for career advancement in the Army as well, said Woodruff.
"If you were successful at recruiting, it's a big bullet point for you because you demonstrated the ability to sustain yourself away from a military installation. Drill sergeants get assigned Soldiers, but recruiters have to find them -- walk the streets and encourage prospects to come in for an appointment to talk about the benefits."
"In the Army we are all groomed to be trainers," said Osterson. "But in USAREC you grab that extra set of skills that are different from that which you obtain in the regular Army. When you learn to lead by inspiring people instead of by using your rank, then you become a more dynamic leader. So if a recruiter returns to his or her MOS, he or she goes back a very dynamic leader -- someone who can lead at a higher level because they take with them a whole new set of skills that are so outside of the normal realm of what the Army does."
Sergeant 1st Class Bernice Beegle can testify to that.
Now a platoon sergeant in an aviation support battalion in Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, Beegle was a recruiter from 2008 to 2011 in Enterprise, Ala., and found it to be one of the most rewarding jobs in the Army.
In an effort to be better able to answer prospects questions about being deployed to war zones, Beegle returned to her MOS as a Black Hawk helicopter mechanic, 15T, in 2011 so she could to deploy to Afghanistan. Even though she has not yet returned to recruiting, she maintains the experience and knowledge she gained as a recruiter is helping her immensely as a platoon sergeant.
"Recruiting duty makes you think quick on your feet because each applicant has a different reason for joining. I was able to become much more comfortable with talking to extremely large groups. As a platoon sergeant, I use these skills daily because I manage 57 Soldiers in my platoon and being able to communicate with the Soldiers is a necessity. Sharpening those skills during recruiting has helped me out tremendously."
Recruiters can seek advice on career advancement and professional development from the 79R Professional Development Cell in USAREC G-1. Follow the team at www.facebook.com/USAREC79RBranch.