Is recruiting quality more important than quantity?

1 Jul 2006 |

Hands down, recruiting is one of the hardest jobs in the Marine Corps. Every month you face the challenge of trying to convince several young Americans to leave the safety and security of their homes and take the challenge of becoming a Marine. But, after all of the numbers and late nights, there’s one thing you must remember: quality counts.

According to Master Sgt. Ronald Olsen, Recruiting Station Lansing Assistant Recruiter Instructor, you have to look a little harder for the cream-of-the-crop, but it pays off later.

“Time management is a big concern on recruiting,” said Olsen. “When you make the extra effort to find the best, you end up saving time in the long run. You spend less time trying to put in waivers, and chances are the kid is more focused and more dedicated. For every discharge you get, you end up having to make it up with two or three, but with that quality applicant you won’t have that problem.”

“When I go prospecting for potential Marines, I look for the best,” said Sgt. Jason Hansen, recruiter, Recruiting Substation Holland. “There are two things I think about when I meet a kid: ‘Would I want this kid working for me one day,’ and ‘Can he be the future of the Corps?’”
Hansen is one of the top recruiters in RS Lansing, with a production ratio of 2.13, and he demonstrates his recruiting abilities in more than just his high numbers. It shows in the quality of his enlistments.

In March of 2006, two of Hansen’s five enlistments stood apart from the rest.
In 2003, Joe Hover broke the Michigan State record in the discus and was both an Adidas and USA Today Track and Field All-American.

“I got a full-ride scholarship to Western Michigan University for track and field,” said Hover, a poolee from Holland, Mich. “But I always wanted to do something more in life.”
Hover said that it wasn’t until Hansen contacted him that he gave the Marine Corps real consideration.

“Being a all-star sports player with colleges calling left and right, you never really think about the military,” said Hover. “But once Sergeant Hansen sat down with me and explained all the different advantages to being a Marine, I realized that it was the right decision for me.”
Hansen’s other enlistee, Ben Vonkoenig from Lakeshore High school, Mich., is another example of a high-quality applicant.

Vonkoenig finished this year first in State in the shot put, breaking the Michigan State indoor record with a throw of 54 feet, 8 inches. He is also on the Michigan All-State High School Football Team, and has been offered full scholarships to Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan and a list of eight other universities for football.

“It doesn’t matter how many you put in if you have to spent more time to make the a barely-qualified kid better,” said Hansen. “If you send in the best, you don’t waste time and it’s better for the Corps.”

Athletes and good students make great recruits, said Olsen.

“Athletes are generally in better physical condition, and you don’t have to worry about them getting injured in recruit training. They also have a team mentality from playing sports, so they excel in boot camp.”

Department of Defense officials keenly watch recruit attrition numbers, especially since the cost of recruiting new service members averages about $8,050 each (2003).
The average cost to initially train a Marine is $42,000, DoD’s investment in military recruit accessions and training is enormous, since more than 160,000 of America’s youth are recruited for active military service each year.

“Success breeds success,” said Olsen. “The good quality kid that you put in is going to bring you more good quality kids as referrals, which saves you time and keeps the Corps strong.”
9th Marine Corps District