West Indy Recruiter receives top honors as Marine Corps' Recruiter of the Year

18 Nov 2002 |

If someone were to ask recruiters what they think about recruiting duty, they very well may receive as many different replies as there are recruiters to ask.  For those who find satisfaction in bringing men and women into the Marine Corps family, it is an exciting tour, and if successful, they can reap countless benefits.

Gunnery Sgt. Jesse Cornelius, a canvassing recruiter from Recruiting Substation West Indy, Recruiting Station Indianapolis, is reaping those benefits.  He recently received a meritorious promotion after being named the Marine Corps' Recruiter of the Year for fiscal year 2002.

A lot of effort went into earning the award.  He wrote 36 contracts during fiscal year 2002, and maintained a 2.92 Average Production Rate, with 100 percent of his contracts being traditional high school graduates, and 76.9 percent in the top three mental groups on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.  If that's not impressive enough, he also maintained a Delayed Entry Program discharge rate of only 2.8 percent, and a Marine Corps Recruit Depot attrition rate of 0 percent while shipping 26 recruits to boot camp.

How does a recruiter attain these numbers?  According to Cornelius, it starts with believing in what you do, and believing in the product you sell.

This approach to recruiting helped him to contract Emily Altman, a senior at Whiteland Community High School who ships for MCRD Parris Island, S.C., January 13, and plans to serve in aviation operations for the Marine Corps.

"I talked to other recruiters (from other services) and there were a few reasons I chose the Marines, but one of the bigger reasons was the simple fact that he (Cornelius) showed interest in me," said Altman.  He takes an active role in the lives of all his poolees.

Altman met Cornelius during a high school visit in her school's gymnasium.  Cornelius wasted no time getting down to business.  "I remember I walked up and he was very straight forward.  He just looked at me and said, 'What do you want to do?'"

"I think what helps me the most is that I really believe in the Corps, and what it stands for," said Cornelius.  "I believe that everyone can benefit from what the Corps has to offer."

It doesn't stop there.  Cornelius works hard to take care of his pool of future Marines, and it has paid off big for him.  "I really care about the people I put in and how they progress in the Corps.  When you believe in something like that, these kids see that, and it really helps instill trust where there otherwise might be doubt and skepticism," he said.

According to Altman, that is the biggest reason Cornelius enjoys the low attrition rate he has.  She said when his poolees have doubts, he immediately makes them talk about it.  He works very hard to keep his poolees motivated and to keep them moving in the right direction, according to Altman.  She added, "He's someone we know we can trust."

According to Cornelius, one of his keys to successful selling is to keep in mind "what made me want to join."


Cornelius came in to recruiting knowing that it was a tough, demanding duty, but that didn't stop him from being optimistic about it.

"I knew about the rigors of the duty, but I also thought it would be fun and exciting as well," he said.  "I believe I'm a better Marine now because of recruiting duty."

Cornelius says there are many things that have made recruiting worthwhile.  Self-improvement is one of those things.  "I think that it's made me a much better communicator, but it has also helped me to better relate to people.  I interact with all sorts of people from a wide range of backgrounds, and it has helped me to better understand where these people are coming from."

In addition to his positive attitude, belief in the Marine Corps and interpersonal relationships he has built, Cornelius attributes one more quality that he believes has made him a successful recruiter - hard work.  "Your attitude and desire to succeed," he concluded, "can only be measured by the effort you put in."

9th Marine Corps District