A Tale of Two Army Recruiters
On a beautiful late spring afternoon, four years ago, two young Soldier’s graduated from the same recruiting class. They were very much alike, these two young Soldiers. Both had been better than average Soldiers, both were personable and both - as young Soldiers are - were filled with ambitious dreams for the future. Recently, these Soldiers returned to the “mainstream Army” after completing their recruiting assignment.
They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had two children. And both, it turned out, had reported to the same recruiting center after graduating recruiting school. But there was a difference. One of the Soldier’s remained a recruiter the entire three years in USAREC. The other was placed in charge of the recruiting center.
Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in Soldier’s careers? It isn’t always natural born talent. It isn’t that one Soldier wants success and the other doesn’t. The difference lies in the Soldier’s level of focus, strategy, discipline, and execution. And that is why I am writing to you today. Because there are two main factors to achieving success in recruiting. Competence and performance.
You see, USAREC is a unique assignment. It’s the Army’s only selected team of dedicated professionals who sustain an All-Volunteer Army. Each day, recruiters are required to be independent and adaptive thinkers, capable of making rapid decisions in unfamiliar and ambiguous environments. High standards, organizational skills, and effective time management are critical competencies for recruiters.
Right now, there are 5 key principles you can apply to increase your performance:
Before and after work, look at your calendar and see how you are really spending your time. Every minute in recruiting counts. You should look at your day like the CEO of a major corporation. If you aren’t blocking out time for effective prospecting, follow-up, and other lead generation activities, make your first goal to re-evaluate your time and focus on what’s going to get you in front of your target audience.
Are you properly purging and evaluating your recruiting funnel? Are you disqualifying leads who don’t belong on your processing list and focusing on the best qualified? Ask the hard questions to your prospects. The more people you disqualify, the more time you can spend with quality applicants. Often times disqualifying a prospect will cause them to want to join even more. People want what they can’t have. Ask, “Are you good enough?” Figure out where to get the biggest bang for your buck. Once you have a realistic view of your funnel, you will know how much time to spend prospecting. The top producers are always looking for ways to trim down their funnel, not add to it. The result is often more quality applicants which lead to more contracts.
If you measure it you can improve it. Once you’ve cleaned up your funnel you can now move on to maximizing your impact. Build your quality funnel to the point where it exceeds 3 times your mission. Review past activities. Locate activities that produce the most results with the least effort. How many phone calls did you make in order to get an appointment? How many emails did you send before you got a response? What message did you use in the email? How many Army Interviews did you conduct before someone agreed to join? What did you say in the interview? How many physicals does it take before someone joins?
Once you’ve identified the problem in your metrics, find someone in the command who can help balance out your weakness. This should be someone who is a top producer. Send this person an email or get them on the phone and ask what are they doing that’s making them so successful. Most top producers are willing to share their secrets if you just ask. Adapting the process they’re using to knock their mission out the park is the fastest way to soar past your own goals.
If you’ve done your homework and identified competencies that are causing your choke points, now it’s time to set aside extra time to develop your skills. Plan an hour a day for professional development. This can be accomplished before, during, and/or after the workday. Now that you’re more aware of areas that require improvement, dedicate yourself to getting better. Spend time with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and learn your market inside and out, setup Google Alerts that give you industry knowledge that will be valuable to your prospects and read it once a day or listen to audiobooks on your way to work. If you feel, as I do that these principles are fair and achievable, then you will want to apply them today and discover how they will help you excel in recruiting. About those two Soldiers I mentioned at the beginning of this letter: They graduated from recruiting school together and together they got started in recruiting. So what made their lives in recruiting different? Focus. Relentless focus. Removing all distractions, and realizing that being successful in recruiting, takes mental concentration to determine who the right targets are and how to manage time wisely. I cannot promise you will be in the top 1% of USAREC if you start applying these principles. But I can guarantee that you will find the rest of your time spent in USAREC a lot more enjoyable. To your success,
Author: SFC Cedric Crumbley
Photo courtesy of the author