Early planning determines Summer recruiting success

1 May 2006 | 9th Marine Corps District

The Marines would have never been able to storm the shores of Tripoli or raise the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi if a battle plan wasn’t prepared ahead of time. These historical examples show how prior planning can lead to major success.

Marines are known for success on the battlefield. The success of our recruiters is pivotal to maintaining the health and longevity of the Marine Corps. Recruiters are battling on the streets every day to find the next generation of Marines.

This battle intensifies as schools let out and all of those students who were stuck behind a desk all winter are now free for the summer. To find potential applicants in the summer, recruiters must begin their summer prospecting tactics planning as early as January.

“If you started cultivating your juniors in January, identified those interested, evaluated them, talked to parents, and gotten written parental consent, you have positioned yourself for success in the summer,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. John Purcell, the recruiter instructor for Recruiting Station Milwaukee.

By cultivating most of the contracts in winter needed for the summer months, recruiters will have smaller monthly battles. Prior planning can cause these battles to be won even before school lets out.

Some of the tools a recruiter uses during the school year are high school talks, career fair set-ups, and other community events. They help to tell the Marine Corps story and gain positive exposure to the target market. They plant a seed in the mind of a student that may blossom when the summer hits.

Another critical tool at the disposal of the recruiter is the Recruiter Supplied Names list.  These lists are submitted to the fulfillment center and those names are put into a direct mailing program. Each student on those lists receives an informational guide that, if they choose to, can be sent in to request more information from a local recruiter.

Once the request is sent back to the fulfillment center, a priority-prospecting card is generated and delivered to the local recruiter. With this PPC, the recruiter knows he has someone who has had the Marine Corps seed planted. Now the recruiter just has to nurture that seed.

These methods work well for the recruiter, but there is one asset that should never be overlooked, regardless of the time of year. That asset is the poolees and local Marines who may still have friends in the area, according to Gunnery Sgt. Eric Edmonds, the SNCOIC of Recruiting Substation Appleton, RS Milwaukee. They may know people that have expressed an interest in the military who could provide a referral. As these referrals turn into contracts, they equate to promotion points for some ranks.

“We hang out with our poolees and their friends during lunch time at school and recon that way,” Edmonds said.

With all of these options to plan and set-up the summer, a recruiter can look forward to a very rewarding time, according to Purcell.

Once summer does finally roll around, there still may be a need to find an extra applicant. Planning still plays a huge roll to finding that prospect quickly.

All recruiters know that one way to contact these potential prospects is by telephone. However, Purcell specifically recommends that recruiters spend two hours making phone calls – completely uninterrupted – from 8 to 10 a.m.

“These are the times kids are getting ready to go out for the day and about the only time you can catch them at home,” he said. “If you don’t make calls during this time you will miss the opportunity to talk to them or have to wait until late at night to call.”

Also, by going through old interview logs a recruiter may find those who were interested in the military but decided to try college or work full time. Edmonds recommends calling to see if their plans have changed. If so, you may have someone who is ready to make a change in their life, and the Marine Corps may be able to offer them what they need.

Sitting inside by the phone is often not the best means of finding prospects. Staff Sgt. Michael Sessler, a recruiter from RSS Wausau, RS Milwaukee, recommends recruiters get out into the community and find out where high school seniors and grads hang out.

Success in the battle of finding future Marines is not easy, but Marines have been able to adapt and overcome throughout history.

Recruiting has branched out from a small location known as Tun Tavern, and adapted to the myriad of changes that have occurred in the last 231 years.

9th Marine Corps District