Holiday recruiting problems provide no easy answers

1 Oct 2005 | 9th Marine Corps District

Recruiters face challenges every day they are on recruiting duty. These challenges do not get any easier when holidays begin approaching. And when applicants are thinking about spending time with family and friends and not leaving them for months at a time for military training, strategies often change during the holiday season to help open the eyes of the young students who could be the next enlistees for the month.

Some recruiters take the approach of concentrating on area canvassing during the months prior to major holidays since they often face the challenge of a person not wanting to enlist during the holidays. They begin their approach early so as to prepare the prospective applicants for enlistment during the last few months of the year.

“Kids are out shopping for the holidays so we can go out to the shopping areas and talk to prospective applicants,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jonathon Lindeen, SNCOIC of Recruiting Substation Green Bay. “Since the kids are not in school where we have easier access to them, we have to go look for them where we figure they will be.”

Other recruiters take a different approach to the holiday season. They make extra calls to the students who said they were going to college and to try them back later after school has started. By doing this, some of the students who had planned on attending college may have changed their minds after a semester and are now interested in joining the Marine Corps.

“We push the sense of urgency to join before returning to school and show them how we can help them with finishing college,” said Sgt. Ryan Brohas, RSS South Milwaukee.

By capitalizing on the time off from school and the end of school near, recruiters try to use a stronger closing with the applicants. The recruiters show them their options of joining the military vice going to college right out of high school.

One of the many obstacles that recruiters face outside of recruiting is shipping during the holiday season. Any time between Halloween and New Years' Day is often a slower time for shipping because many applicants realize that they will not be home for the holidays they are used to spending with family and friends, according to Lindeen.

Recruiters ensure early interviews and a progressive prospecting plan during the later part of the year, according to Lindeen. They have to work even harder during this time to try and convince the prospective applicants to join and to ship on time instead of waiting until after the first of the year.

Milwaukee is a hunting enthusiasts' paradise. The majority of potential applicants take part in the sport and leave early in the morning for a day in the woods and often don’t want to talk with a recruiter at night because they are getting ready for the next day.

“We face a lot of kids not being home after the start of deer hunting so we have to identify them early,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Merrill, SNCOIC of RSS Fond du Lac.

During the holiday breaks, more phone calls can be made because so many students are out of school relaxing at home with friends and family.

This also poses the obstacle of trying not to interrupt any family events that are often planned for the holidays. This includes family dinners, where many families don’t like accepting phone calls, and the outings away from home spent celebrating relatives.

Holiday seasons can pose big challenges because many people do not want to be bothered during the celebrations and festivities.

Despite these challenges, Marines will do what they have done for the last 230 years - successfully accomplish the mission to ensure the Marine Corps fills its ranks for the future.
9th Marine Corps District