New Methods in Recruiting for the Military
Military recruiting has come a long way since James Flagg, artist and illustrator, created the famous Uncle Sam “I want YOU for the U.S. Army” poster that recruited thousands of men to fight in World Wars I and II.
But in the 21st century, America’s armed services is in a recruiting crisis. And it’s not solely because the Department of Defense says 71% of young people are unable to serve in uniform due to obesity, drug abuse, poor education, or crime record.
With Generation Z showing less interest in military enlistment and the coronavirus pandemic slowing the numbers of recruits, forcing recruiters to think outside the box, the struggle to sign up service men and women has never been more real.
U.S. Military Pushing into Digital World
The military must rethink its approach to recruiting. This means being more creative and going digital. But how far is the government willing to go to reach its military recruitment goals?
At Empire Resume, our military to civilian blog is dedicated to veteran and military affairs. Read along as we discuss some new strategies that help the military ramp up its recruiting efforts.
- Virtual recruiting teams
Many military recruiting offices have virtual recruiting teams that focus solely on social media. Potential candidates can respond to a social media post and get a response from a virtual recruiter.
Once the outreach begins online, the potential service member will be placed in contact with a local recruiter in the area.
This helps to allow the recruiter with “boots on the ground” to focus less on the task of recruiting, and more on processing the prospect using the application portal, which we’ll discuss next.
- Virtual recruiting with online application portals
In the digital world, everything is at your fingertips. The hurry up and wait process of recruiting in the military is becoming extinct.
Because of virtual recruiting procedures and events, recruiters no longer spend time at the office making calls and scheduling appointments. With the click of a button, they can meet potential recruits through video by using Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Hours sitting at a desk filling out paperwork, just to obtain a recruit’s background information, is also eliminated with online portals.
Online application portals make the recruitment process simple. Individuals can easily sign up for military service while recruiters get access to background information quickly. It’s a win-win situation.
According to a recent news report, a new Army recruit said the pandemic had little to no impact on her military recruitment process.
She was able to communicate with her recruiter by Facebook messenger, Facetime, and text message. There were no in-person meetings. She felt these tools helped to establish a close relationship with her recruiter.
- Social media
Armed forces recruiting offices use social media to connect and engage with potential recruits.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are proving to be great sources for building awareness of each branch of the military and each service branch’s culture.
- E-Sports and virtual gaming tournaments
For armed forces recruiters, traditional recruiting methods like phone calls and direct mail are out the door.
Recruiters have turned to the rapid growth of e-sports and virtual gaming, which had audiences of more than 443 million across the globe in 2019, according to Forbes Magazine.
Some recruiters are successful in connecting with potential recruits through popular video games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty.
Additionally, e-sports cyber teams have been formed to compete in events across the country to pull in recruits and make serving in the military appeal to Generation Z.
- Targeted online ads
Marketing campaigns are aimed at young people who are not familiar with certain opportunities within the military, specifically those between 17 to 24 years old.
In a time where young people feel alone in the shallow virtual world and are looking for communities and a sense of belonging, the military is creating messages that speak to the heart of that need.
Through digital ads, the military is communicating the ability for young people to be connected to something bigger and the opportunity to form real bonds.
These recruiting ads are in an effort to focus less on combat-centered roles and raise awareness of the variety and depth of career fields offered in the military and show how each role helps to form the strongest military on earth.
Expanding Location Strategy and Building Relationships with City Officials
Traditionally, recruiters looked in small towns and rural communities within the Southeast, Deep South, and Midwest for new recruits.
They’ve learned that many recruits come from major cities. As a result, they are beginning to target these areas with tailor-made messages that appeal to the youth in those communities.
For example, young people in cities like Austin and Boston value high tech jobs and computers. The military is working hard to show the benefits of service while laying the blueprint for careers in the technology sectors.
Additionally, recruiters are establishing relationships with city officials in major cities. Together, the military along with mayors, are working to keep youth out of trouble. This is why the city of Baltimore has opened recreation centers to recruiters.
Recruiters are now playing sports with youth as well as providing educational tools to prepare for college boards such as the SAT, and military entrance exams to help them be successful in life.
Whether young people want to join the military or go to college, they will see recruiters as a resource to help them navigate next steps after high school.
Digital Spaces Will Have Lasting Effect on Future Military Recruiting
Since military recruiting offices have closed and events have been suspended or canceled, recruiters had to adapt to social media, digital engagement, and virtual events.
The good news is, going digital can be cost-effective for the government.
Because of their newfound operations, the military is discovering that the new recruiting methods will continue to play a part in filling military roles of the future. With a strong digital marketing presence, the military can reach potential recruits where they are.
What other ways can the military overcome COVID-19 and meet its recruiting needs? Let us know in the comments below.
Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.