JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – “How many of you have been selected by the army to become recruiters?” Sgt. 1st Class Jason Osterson, ‘Recruit the Recruiter’ team member, asks a crowded room of noncommissioned officers at Stone Education Center March 5. More than half the NCOs raise their hands. “Great. Now, be honest, how many of you are excited to be recruiters?” Some of those hands go down, and Osterson nods, not surprised by their response.
Osterson begins the brief by acknowledging that misconceptions and negative impressions about recruiting exist within the army. He stresses, however, that many of those ideas are based on outdated experiences with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command and do not reflect the recruiters who love their jobs. Those NCOs often become permanent recruiters and never return to their previous unit’s formations to share their stories.
“The purpose of these briefs is to provide soldiers with a view of what USAREC is like today,” said Osterson. “USAREC has changed so much in recent years that we want to give them current information.”
In 2010, USAREC began to restructure their recruiting approach from a focused individual effort into a team-based system which made the recruiting process more efficient and capitalized on the aptitude of soldiers to perform certain tasks. The three-pronged approach to recruiting is broken up into the engagement team, future soldier leaders and recruiting support team.
According to USAREC Manual 3-06, this change has led to improved quality of life for recruiters and made recruiting more attractive to soldiers. The goal of USAREC is to eventually become an all-volunteer team of recruiters, working to fill an all-volunteer army. There are two ways to become a recruiter: Department of the army selection or volunteer. Volunteering to become a recruiter allows for choices in duty assignment.
During the briefing, Osterson outlined the benefits of being a recruiter to soldiers while they remain in the army, including special duty pay, 36 months of stabilization, and favorable consideration during centralized promotion boards, and skills unique to recruiting which are highly marketable to future employers. For example, market analysis, planning presentations and interviewing techniques.
“You are going to have to be able to work with people. The more personable you can become through doing recruiting, the better, and that’s going to help in the civilian world. The marketing skills you learn in USAREC, companies throughout the U.S. are doing also; this is stuff that makes companies successful,” said Osterson. “The army has taken its practices directly from the civilian world and if you learn those skills and become proficient in them, when you go to the civilian world you speak the same language. They understand what we do and they know it and that becomes the real-world experience that they are looking for.”
Osterson has been a recruiter for nine years. He entered the army as an armored crewman, and a self-described “introvert,” but found that recruiting was both challenging and personally rewarding.
“If someone wants to succeed, and they want to do well, and look at what they are doing as helping someone achieve a goal in their life – then they really enjoy it, it’s very fulfilling. I get so many letters back from people thanking me for helping them.”
Osterson said that recruiters are uniquely qualified to shape the future of the army because all soldiers come through them first. If they are able to match people to the right career field and help them prepare for the army prior to attending Basic Combat Training, then the Army will only become more successful and mission ready.
One of the attendees, Sgt. Marcus Ursobernick, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, said the briefing was helpful to both recruiting prospects and NCOs already identified for recruiting duty.
“Before this class, I didn’t have an idea of what was going to happen, and how it was going to unfold, but this briefing gave me reassurance,” said Ursobernick. “Having a speaker here from recruiting command helped me out a lot.” In particular, the briefing helped him answer questions about assignment locations.
The infantryman said he had considered volunteering for recruiting during a recent tour to Afghanistan, but upon redeployment, was DA selected. “I was looking for a change of pace and a little bit of stability for my family. I’m a people-person, I like talking to people and that’s one of my strengths so I think I will be a good fit,” said Ursobernick.