WASHINGTON — Gen. Randy A. George, Army chief of staff, detailed five areas that Army Recruiting Command will revamp during the Be All You Can Be Symposium at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C. Oct. 9.
The Army will shift how it prospects for recruits, transform its recruiting workforce, realign the recruiting command structure, create an experimentation capability within the recruiting command, and use evidence-based recruiting. It already revamped its slogan, “Be All You Can Be” in March.
George said recruiting has changed drastically since he joined the Army 42 years ago, when “Be All You Can Be” was also the Army slogan. He was trying to figure out how to get money to go to college. He talked to a Korean War veteran who told him he should join the Army.
“It was the best thing I ever did,” George said. “He was very successful in my very small, local community and had a big impact on me.
“When I first came in, I went over to the National Guard armory; got into a van; drove down to Des Moines, Iowa; took the ASVAB test; [and] got to stay in a hotel,” George said. “The next day, I did the medical piece, and by noon I was calling my mom to let her know I was signing up. It was that quick. It’s different now.”
He said he went out and talked to troops around the world to learn from the boots on the ground.
“We’re retaining great Soldiers; they love being in the Army. They love the people and the mission. They’re making lifelong friends and being fulfilled by what they do by being in the military,” he said. “Now we just need to look at how we need to recruit a little differently in today’s day and age.”
Changing how the Army prospects
Maj. Gen. Johnny Davis, commanding general of the Army Recruiting Command, trains and leads more than 8,000 recruiters worldwide.
Recruiters are prospecting in a competitive environment with shifting generational and workforce preferences.
George said the Army may need to target recruits from the labor force who are going to work during the day and college in the evenings.
“They still think of the Army as only infantry, armor and combat arms when we have a gamut of critical career fields, George said. “I don’t know if many in the labor force and those in school understand what we truly do for this nation.”
“The high school markets make up a large portion of our enlisted force but with that number shrinking, we need to expand into the labor market,” Davis said.
He said he talks to non-military people like his delivery drivers as much as possible.
“I ask them to educate me. I’ve been in the uniform for so many years. I just want to understand from their perspective,” he said. “They’re very supportive. They trust the military. But they don’t relate to the Army.”
Transforming the Army’s recruiting workforce
The Army developed its recruiting workforce reforms after conducting a 90-day quantitative and qualitative analysis of two million contracts, 1.5 million accessions and 70,000 recruiters since 1998.
“We’re picking the right people, training them and keeping them, and not rotating them all the time so they can interact in their communities,” George said. “They will have language skills, know the area, know the people, continue to progress, know the environment and can be more effective.”
The change will result in a new military occupational specialty, 42T, talent acquisition specialist.
“This whole rollout, it has been on all of our minds every single hour as we look at transforming. This is potentially the biggest change ever to occur in the United States Army Recruiting Command’s history,” Davis said.
Davis grew up hearing war stories from his grandfather, who served in World War II.
“He spent a lot of time sharing his Army story with me,” Davis said. “He was very inspiring to the whole family.”
He hopes to carry on that inspiration to his team of recruiters as they create this new career field.
Davis touts the Soldier referral and recruiter performance incentive programs as successes because they were recommended by recruiters on the ground.
“When [they see] that investment in them, then there’s this surge of energy to get out there and do more in terms of our prospecting, processing and future Soldier management,” Davis said. “Listening to these recruiters and acting on their recommendations, that’s what I’m doing; it’s driving this positive resurgence across the recruiting force.”
Realigning the recruiting command structure
George said that marketing and recruiting will be consolidated and realigned into a three-star command directly reporting to him and the secretary of the Army.
“The tenure will be for four years. I’m going to be personally involved to help drive and make sure we’re getting after the change that we need,” he said.
“This synergy with the brand rollout has been able to help us align our marketing with the needs of our recruiters,” Davis said. “We’re starting to see all of our efforts from marketing, our retraining, what we’ve done to invest in our recruiters and then educating them on this brand.
Creating an experimentation capability within recruiting command
The Army will have an experimentation team, comprised of recruiters supported by experts in information management, data management, survey design, labor market analysis, marketing, operations and procurement.
Recruiters will be able to use technology to analyze the job market, what is and what isn’t working, and use technology in recruiting efforts.
“Most of the great ideas come from the people who are actually doing the mission,” George said. “We need to empower the people who are out there innovating for the Army.”
“Everything we’ve done in this command is from the feedback provided by these recruiters. It’s allowed us to really move resources and invest in their needs. We’re all interdependent,” George said.
Using evidence-based recruiting
George said the Army needs to improve the formal measurement and evaluation of recruiting policy decisions to better determine return on investment and more effectively allocate resources.
“We need to do a better job in the Army of understanding what’s working and what isn’t,” he said. We need to know what’s working in our marketing, how effective is it if you give someone a bonus, [and] what is the sensitivity analysis.”
Some people join the Army to be assigned to specific locations or for specific career fields, George said.
“We need to study that and make sure we have the analytics behind it as we move forward. There’s no more important topic in our Army right now.”
“Our responsibility to the Army is to be experts in warfighting and to be prepared to defend our nation,” George added. “We need the right people inside the Army. People have always been the strength of our Army.”
Rebranding the Army
In March, the Army rolled out the “Be All You Can Be” brand to address a younger generation.
Brian Griepentrog, executive vice president, Fors Marsh Group, leads a team of more than 60 scientists who conduct research for the Army with a focus on recruiting, market and advertising research, vocational choice, personnel selection, training and youth demographics.
His team conducted years of research with young adults and veterans about the perceptions of the Army and Army service. They used the concepts of possibilities, purpose, passion, communities and connection to find out what slogan participants liked best for the Army.
“Across all of these stakeholders, in a number of criteria, when asked if it would be a strong representative of purpose, passion, communities and connection, that was the winning candidate, so that’s why we’re now represented with Be All You Can Be,” Griepentrop said.
Lt. Gen. Douglas Stitt, deputy chief of staff G-1, joined the Army 33 years ago when the slogan was “Be All You Can Be.”
“My father encouraged me to be a part of something bigger than myself. I started out thinking about the mission but fell in love with the people I served with,” he said. “I’d do this job for free. I’d sign up the day after I retire.”
Whether it’s revamping the slogan, prospecting the workforce, transforming the recruiting command structure and workforce, creating experimentation capabilities, or using evidence-based recruiting, the Army is seeking Soldiers for the 21st century.