“‘Don’t I know you from somewhere?’ is usually how I start (my interviews). If they say ‘yes,’ half my job is done. If they say ‘no,’ I say to myself, Why not?” said Sgt. Peter Hansen, a Recruiting Substation Holland recruiter.
“The best advice I could give a new recruiter is smile, have fun, get out of your office and get in front of people. Talk to someone; it really doesn’t matter who. Until someone’s in your chair, keep talking. Generate interest. And just because they don’t enlist this month doesn’t mean they won’t enlist next month or next year.”
Hansen, who over the last two years has kept a 77 percent Alpha mix with a 2.55 net Average Per Recruiter, wrote seven contracts in August. Simultaneously, he qualified for his second Triple Nickel award, and earned the Sergeant Major’s Recruiter of the Month award.
But Hansen’s recruiting tour didn’t start off so well. In fact, he was close to being relieved.
“I was on the bag for five months, and I just could not recruit,” he said. “I wasn’t any good at it when I first started out here,” said Hansen. “I was running out of time and was probably getting ready to be fired, and then my life changed. I got a new (staff noncommissioned officer in charge), Staff Sergeant Jason Keller, and he told me the one thing that changed it all around: B.A.M.: Belief, Attitude, Motivation. This is what it takes to be successful. Then he made me believe it. It’s not how well you (area canvass) or (make phone calls). What it boils down to is, do you believe you’re the best? Do you have the attitude to be the best? And are you motivated to be the best? If you can truly say ‘yes’, then you will be successful; if not, you’re in the wrong line of work.”
The 28 year-old Chaska, Minn., native has become one the top recruiters in RS Lansing after his shaky start.
“I came out here on recruiting duty to be the best and get meritorious staff sergeant,” Hansen said. “I realized that your not going to get there by writing 1’s and 2’s – at least not in RS Lansing.”
According to Gunnery Sgt. Demetrius Bell, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, RSS Holland, Hansen’s success is a direct reflection of his belief in the product he is selling: the Corps.
“Hansen builds very good rapport with the schools and the community,” said Bell. “He gains a lot of exposure because of the good relationships he builds and the true belief he has in the Corps. When the schools out here think of the military, they think Sgt. Hansen. He builds those kind of relationships.”
Hansen said that you get out of recruiting what you put into it. If you’re willing to go that extra mile and spend Friday night at a high school football game after you get off work instead of going home, you’ll be better off in the long run.
“It’s a Catch-22, though, Hansen said. “If you write a lot of contracts you work harder and longer, and if you don’t write contracts you work even harder and longer. But it’s always nicer to work harder and be a hero then harder and be a zero.”
Recruiting duty, with its long working hours and longer weekends, can put a hindrance on family life, but Hansen has found the answer to keeping his family life strong.
“My wife didn’t like me recruiting at first,” he said. “But she knows I enjoy what I do, and she supports me."
So he brings his wife with him when ever possible.
“She comes to Family Nights, football games, basketball, etc. Once she even helped me chaperon a high school prom,” said Hansen.
Hansen also uses his poolees to help recruit.
“(The poolees) joined to be challenged, so challenge them,” Hansen recommends.
Hansen tries to make recruiting interesting for the poolees and to keep them involved, always ensuring he shows them the importance of their contributions.
Hansen’s advice to recruiters is to believe in themselves.
“I hear people say, ‘This isn’t the real Corps,’ but I think it doesn’t get any more real than this,” he said. “I have friends in Iraq that are depending on me to send them the best. You have to believe you’re the best to recruit the best.”