The Business of Military Recruiting

Military Recruiting Station, Times Square
Military Recruiting Station, Times Square | Source

Many people look at military recruiters in a negative aspect. They think we are all "head-hunters" looking to make the next big score by ripping a young person from their homes or schooling just so that we can fill a quota. The truth is, once upon a time, that really was case. It was bad.

Now, though, military recruiting has taken on a much more refined look at who is joining the ranks of America's military. It is no longer good enough to just want to serve. These days an applicant must qualify for the military under some pretty strict guidelines. Also, what most people don't know is how professional and business savvy even the lowest ranking military recruiters have to be.

Let's take a look at some basic business terms and how they relate to military recruiting.

The Internal and External Network: Military recruiting looks at their internal network as being military support (such as Reserve units, military installations and, at its center the recruiter). The external network is comprised of school officials, coaches and other influencers. Each part of these networks plays a key role in a successful military recruiting campaign and units do their best to positively influence each one for the benefit of the mission.

Return on Investmetn (ROI): Believe it or not, this term causes a lot of heart ache in the military recruiting community. Too many times you will see recruiting centers attending events such as high school football games and community calendar events and think it was a "great success". Eventually, a commander will get around to asking "what was your ROI on the event? How many leads? How many appointments did you get out of it?" That's when recruiters start looking at their shoes for the answer.

The same goes for the type of prospecting that is being done in communities. Email campaigns, telephone and face-to-face all have different ROI. To truly engage the community as a fully volunteer military every aspect of prospecting must be done. "Cold calling" and mail outs are good, but the face of the military must be seen in the community.

Assets: The military spends millions of dollars per year on their national ad budget, but sometimes just taking a prospective applicant and their family to a military base and showing them the facilities is enough. Also, driving up to a high school in a black and gold, Army-branded Hummer will get a lot more attention than arriving in a government-plated Impala.

Military recruitment is a business and the most basic of its mission is to provide the strength to America's armed forces in order to fight and win the nation's wars. There is NO MORE SERIOUS BUSINESS than that in the world. Each and every recruiting center and command in this country realizes that. This is not a business of head-hunting but one of seriousness and professionalism. The next time you see a military recruiter think about all the challenges they are presented with when talking to a mother and father about their son or daughter enlisting during a time of war. And then, what is the ROI on that young man or woman NOT joining?

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