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Three Things Every Recruiters Wife Should Know
When my husband was chosen to be an active duty Army recruiter I knew that our lives were going to change. Being a military spouse is hard enough and I had heard horror stories from other spouses about the recruiting trail; I was suddenly very worried. I tried doing some research to see what we were really looking at as far as change. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of information out there.
After three and a half years on the recruiting trail, I’ve learned a lot and our relationship is surprisingly stronger. Recruiting is an especially stressful job in the military. My experience has been with Army recruiting practices, but I believe all branches have roughly the same practices. These tips are designed to be very basic to help spouses new to the recruiting world and need an idea of what to expect out on the trail. This information comes from my experiences and I really hope it can help prepare other wives for the special challenges they are preparing to face.
It may be an office job, but the hours are horrible
Recruiting is not a nine-to-five job but believe me when I say the hours have gotten better. When my husband first started recruiting he was in the office from 8am to 8pm, six days a week. That didn’t count community events and being involved in high school sports functions or morning physical training. The sad truth is that it took three recruiters in Texas committing suicide before it was understood just how severe a toll the long hours were taking on recruiters.
Families do not fair much better. Recruiters are always on duty, no matter where they are, what they are doing, or what time of day it is. That is what it takes to be successful. It is very hard to be out on a date with your husband, trying to have a nice dinner and conversation, only to realize he is scanning the room for potential leads.
Recruiters have to be a part of the community and very involved in community activities both in and out of their schools. As a recruiter’s wife, you should try to be equally involved. Image is everything in the recruiting world and the better the image portrayed the better your recruiter will do. And you will also learn quite a bit about being a recruiter. I have learned that hearing about the military from the spouse point of view can be a comfort to parents and spouses. You will have military experiences to draw on like TriCare, combat shopping in the Commissary and the myriad of benefits spouses enjoy. You are also a voice of sympathetic understanding, you will be there to point out all the positives and help your recruiter to be successful.
Success is based on the decisions of a teenager
One of the first truths your recruiter will learn is that the success of their career is dependent on the decisions of high school students. When the economy is bad, there is no shortage of people wanting to enlist simply because it is a paycheck, a way to provide for their family. However, as regulations change a person who might be eligible today may be disqualified tomorrow. This creates a lot of stress for recruiters. High school students pose a particular challenge because they are young and don’t know what they want. Parents need to support their decision to join and that can be very difficult for them, especially when the news is filled with stories of young men and women being hurt or killed in distant lands.
And the stress doesn’t end there. Stress also comes from the fact that the majority of recruiters are volun-told that they are going to be out on the trail. Many don’t want to do that job, it isn’t what they enlisted for or they just aren’t comfortable in an office environment. As a spouse you have to be prepared to deal with a very cranky recruiter and know how to make home as relaxing as possible. You have to be understanding and let him do the things he needs to do to unwind. For my husband it is playing video games and working outside on home projects. Try to find a compromise when it comes to his free time; allow him a certain amount of time for what he wants to do, time for family activities and one-on-one time for the two of you to keep your relationship healthy.
As hard as it will be, remember that most recruiters are only on the trail for three years. It is not a life sentence and it is totally possible to get through it as long as you work as a team.
Office politics are a war
My husband often says that the recruiting world is like the mafia. Everyone is pretty much out for themselves and are more focused on their own interests than that of their team. In some aspects, the politics of recruiting can be more stressful than the actual process of putting someone in the military.
One upside is that when you are at home, you are removed from the military stress. Most recruiters live out in the civilian world, away from bases and all the drama that goes with being on post. With the exception of a very rare occasion, you are not neighbors with your recruiter’s co-workers. So when he is home, he can be pretty much off the clock and not playing in the office politics game. (However, he will always have his cell phone and computer. He will need to answer calls day or night.)
For the most part, you can expect to have to deal with other military spouses on only specific occasions such as the annual holiday party, mandatory “fun” days and annual training events. So if you are like me and have had some bad experiences with other military spouses, being removed from them can be a bit of a blessing. However, keep in mind you still need to be respectful to the other recruiters and the chain of command, as well as spouses, no matter how you really feel about them or the way they may have treated your recruiter.
One last piece of advice about your recruiters coworkers: if you ever are required to buy a gift for an exchange, such as for the holiday party, always go for the alcohol. A bottle of Crown Royal or Jack Daniels will have everyone vying for the gift you brought.
The most important thing to remember is that being a recruiter’s wife is difficult but it is doable. You can get through it and you can do a lot to help your recruiter be successful. Make the decision that the recruiting trail may be filled with speed bumps but it doesn’t have to destroy your relationship. It will be hard, but if you both understand what the other needs and work at your relationship on a daily basis, the recruiting trail can make it stronger than ever before.