Even though the shipping mission is generally more important than the contract mission, almost any Marine Corps recruiting expert would agree a strong HS/CC Program is paramount, he said.
“If you completely pulled out of your high school programs you may not see the effects right away,” Allen said. “But in six months or less you’ll be hurting for shippers.”
Master Sgt. Thomas Larson, RS Twin Cities recruiter instructor, said the HS/CC Program is the building block of systematic recruiting.
“Building your high school program is the number one priority in recruiting,” said Larson. “Other programs build off of that one program.”
According to Larson, if recruiters execute the program to its potential it does the work for them later.
“The trick is getting and building a pool now,” Larson said. “If you miss just one year, you’ll be two years behind.”
It’s very important to maintain a presence in your schools at all times, he said. The key is to make a priority of stopping in the schools once a week.
“When a student thinks of the Marine Corps, we want him to think about the particular recruiter he’s seen in his schools,” Larson said. “It gives us a more personal feel.”
By following an aggressive and thorough annual plan and executing it by the book, you’ll write quality contracts, said Larson.
Allen, a seven-year veteran of recruiting, said you can often determine a successful substation by how successful they are in their high schools.
“It’s all about building a relationship with your schools,” he said. “Your goal is to plant a Marine Corps flag in that school.”
Building a strong high school program sounds like a great idea, but is it easier said than done?
Sgt. Ricky Young, Recruiting Substation Roseville, RS Twin Cities, recruiter, knows how to get it done. Young was one of the top three recruiters in the 9th Marine Corps District this year.
Young said he isn’t afraid to offer something a little different than what high school students are used to.
“While our military counterparts talk about bonuses and money, adventure and travel, . . . those tangible items,” Young said. “We still offer a challenge and, believe it or not, kids still respond to that.”
According to Young, he doesn’t try to embellish anything while he’s recruiting because high school students often know the difference.
“They’ll see right through you and then you have no credibility,” he said.
Young often uses the inflatable obstacle course in his schools.
“The students look forward to those days and it gives me a chance for some face time,” he said. “The o-course is a great asset to use.”
“Sgt. Young has a likeability factor,” said Staff Sgt. Gerald Mundy, RSS Roseville SNCOIC. “That’s something not every recruiter has, but can be developed if they work at it.”
“It’s all about building rapport,” Mundy said. “The key is to be natural with the kids.”
Young also devotes some of his free time helping the sports programs at his schools.
“Sometimes it’s worth taking off the uniform and just being a friend to the school," said Young. "Volunteering your time can help get you in the door later down the line.”
Allen agrees that being involved in high school sports also helps promote a Marine’s healthy lifestyle.
“When you’re selling the Marine Corps you’re actually selling yourself. If sports are important to you, exploit that in your schools.”
Recruiting during these uncertain times is a challenge, but Larson said many RS Twin Cities recruiters have become very creative in developing a relationship with their schools.
“I’ve had recruiters become coaches on the football team, they’ve taught drill for high school marching bands, we’ve used countless color guards; I’ve even had recruiters make up their own awards,” he said. “Any way we can leave a lasting impression on kids helps our recruiting effort.”
According to Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Andrews, RS Twin Cities Operations Chief, building a strong pool only helps attract more quality contracts.
“A high-quality student breeds a higher quality Marine and, in turn, draws more interest from other high school kids,” he said.
If a substation neglects the HS/CC Program they’re missing out on guaranteed referrals, Andrews said.