Everyone Is a Recruiter

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By Rear Admiral Jeff Hughes
Commander, Navy Recruiting Command

If you had asked me about recruiting several years ago, I would have said that it’s obviously effective and made some casual comments about “them” (recruiters) succeeding in attracting the best and brightest to serve in the Navy. I recognized that it was an important mission, but, in my mind, it just happened. I didn’t think about or appreciate the people, processes, resources and dedication that it took to compete for talent and source the fleet.

Operations Specialist 1st Class Ian Roberts, assigned to Navy Recruiting Station Poway, speaks with an applicant about opportunities and benefits of joining the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anastasia Puscian/Released)
Operations Specialist 1st Class Ian Roberts, assigned to Navy Recruiting Station Poway, speaks with an applicant about opportunities and benefits of joining the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anastasia Puscian/Released)

Now that I’ve been the commander of Navy Recruiting Command for almost two years, I have a much different perspective. Previous assumptions and a recognized lack of awareness are now facts, and I want to share with you the realities of the Navy Recruiting mission and tell you about the phenomenal recruiters and support staff that make it happen.

Navy recruiters go out into communities across the country and even abroad, get to know the people, then actively seek out the very finest our country has to offer to inform them, influence them, inspire them and ultimately hire them to serve in our Navy.

Many of us are asked to engage in outreach events from time to time. We explain the greatness of our Navy, proudly describe the contribution we make for the nation and share our Navy experiences.  As we finish the engagement, we feel pretty good about ourselves and get back to our jobs.  Navy Recruiters are always doing outreach, each and every day.  The big difference is that they have to routinely affect monumental outcomes, closing life-changing deals for thousands of future Sailors.  They are the face of the Navy.

BATON ROUGE, La. (Nov. 3, 2016) Petty Officer Second Class Ernest Sanchez, a recruiter at Naval Recruiting District New Orleans, answers questions at an information booth setup during Baton Rouge Navy Week.  (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Grant P. Ammon/Released)
BATON ROUGE, La. (Nov. 3, 2016) Petty Officer Second Class Ernest Sanchez, a recruiter at Naval Recruiting District New Orleans, answers questions at an information booth setup during Baton Rouge Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Grant P. Ammon/Released)

Navy recruiters work autonomously in remote territories and highly concentrated urban areas, prospecting for new recruits and then guiding them through the process to successfully deliver them to the fleet.  They each have hard objective goals – yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, even daily.  Rarely do any of us at the individual level in the Navy have to consistently meet a measurable goal like this. We place a great deal of responsibility and accountability on our recruiters – and they deliver.

While recruiting can be exhilarating, ask any of them about their first contract, it can also be uncomfortable, lonely and demanding. While they are out in their communities, maintaining and promoting our image and reputation, recruiters have to work hard to influence young women and men to want to take this Navy journey with us.  They have to connect with a prospect, employing the marketing and sales techniques necessary to deliver a mutually beneficial value proposition.

For the prospect, this is the hardest decision they will have made in their lives, to date, and it’s the recruiter that makes this all happen – in the aggregate, over 40,000 times a year!

AMARILLO, Texas (March 9, 2016) Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Anthony Heath, a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Dallas, right, encourages a future Sailor to hold a plank during a weekly delayed entry program meeting. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)
AMARILLO, Texas (March 9, 2016) Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Anthony Heath, a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Dallas, right, encourages a future Sailor to hold a plank during a weekly delayed entry program meeting. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

For 122 consecutive months, Navy Recruiting Command has achieved its active and reserve enlisted mission and this past year had the best performance in officer recruiting this decade; however, there are headwinds on the horizon. Resources remain tight, yet our mission continues to increase in both volume and quality to support the growing Fleet demands for the modern Sailor. We are experiencing a tougher and constraining national recruiting market environment. Even though America’s population is increasing, an increasing portion of our target cohort is determined to not be qualified to serve for mental, medical or moral reasons. Additionally, fewer youth have a propensity to serve due to the loss of awareness traditionally provided by family members or key influencers. This all leads to markedly greater competition among the other services and the private sector for the quality candidates we require.

HOUSTON (Oct. 20, 2016) Navy Recruiting District Houston’s Chief Petty Officer Gerard Labossiere discusses Navy opportunities with an interested candidate at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference downtown Houston Oct. 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED)
HOUSTON (Oct. 20, 2016) Navy Recruiting District Houston’s Chief Petty Officer Gerard Labossiere discusses Navy opportunities with an interested candidate at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference downtown Houston Oct. 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED)

So here’s how you can help. First, as you engage in outreach events, establish contact with the recruiters there to support you. I promise you they will be engaged and will capitalize on the opportunities you provide.  Second, and most important, please continue to send us the fleet’s very best Sailors to recruiting duty.

To get the applicants we need, we need the best recruiters–people of the same substance, character, intellect and experience as those that we hope to recruit. Applicants are looking to connect with someone that can confidently convey their Navy story and who they would aspire to emulate.

Navy recruiting is very rewarding, but we need to ensure these deserving Sailors are truly rewarded for their significant contribution to the readiness of our fleet as well. Most will return to the fleet after this demanding shore duty and want to remain competitive in their source ratings.

BALTIMORE, Md. (Dec. 10, 2016) Rear Adm. Jeffrey W. Hughes, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, swears in 20 Future Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia into the Navy during the Army Navy college football game.  U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st  Class Felicito Rustique Jr. (Released)
BALTIMORE, Md. (Dec. 10, 2016) Rear Adm. Jeffrey W. Hughes, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, swears in 20 Future Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia into the Navy during the Army Navy college football game. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Felicito Rustique Jr. (Released)

If we are to be the premier maritime fighting force in this era of return to true peer competition, if we are to be the employer of choice, then Navy recruiting needs to be the premier recruiting force. Recruiters underwrite the future success of our Navy. The Navy’s competitive advantage comes from our exceptional people and their future starts with Navy Recruiting Command!

For more news from Navy Recruiting Command, visit us on the web, on our YouTube channel, and on Facebook.


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Everyone Is a Recruiter

Midshipmen Shine Light on Life as Military Kids

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Photo: Navy full back Noah Copeland rushes during the 113th Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Dec.8, 2012. The Navy won 17-13, extending their winning streak against Army for the 11th straight year. D0D Photo by Marvin Lynchard

Navy full back Noah Copeland rushes during the 113th Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Dec.8, 2012. The Navy won 17-13, extending their winning streak against Army for the 11th straight year. (D0D photo by Marvin Lynchard/released)

Story by: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Niegel, Defense Media Activity

Edited by Erin Wittkop

As we wrap up “Month of the Military Child,” I would like to reflect on the unique lives of military kids. Military children come from all walks of life and make a pretty fantastic contribution to our country as a result of their unique experiences.

These kids are faced with some major life challenges beginning at young ages. They have to deal with being separated from their parents for extended periods of time, not knowing if their mom or dad is safe, frequent moves and an ever-changing social landscape as they enroll in new schools and work to make new friends. Whether their parents joined after their birth or they were born to active-duty military parents, military kids own life stories begin to branch out in new and worldly ways the moment their parents don a uniform.

I recently had the chance to interview a few military children whose lives have been shaped by their parents’ service. They aren’t your average military kids, though; these “children” are students attending the United States Naval Academy and are players on the Navy Midshipmen football team.

These three athletes grew up as military children, yet came from different backgrounds and established their association with military life at different junctures in their lives.

“My dad wasn’t always gone but he left to Korea when I first started playing flag football; that was kind of hard. As a young kid you really don’t understand why your dad left,” said Midshipman Noah Copeland. “I didn’t understand anything he did until later on when I grew up.”

When Copeland was old enough to realize what his dad was doing and why he grew to have a greater admiration for his father and what he did for the family.

“Seeing my dad wake up early and come home really late, working those long hours just to provide for us, made me appreciate him more. Looking at it now [and reflecting on the person I’ve become], I appreciate him a lot more for everything that he did [to help me get where I am today].”

Coming from a different background and part of the country, Midshipman Shakir Robinson was a little different.

“I caught the tail end of my dad’s military career” Robinson said “[As a result of his military background,] my dad expected higher standards of me.”

Even though he had only spent a few years as a military child he still came out with a strong sense of respect and high expectations for himself, qualities that most would find exceptional for a person his age. I noticed this difference during the interview. Robinson carries himself with a poise that alludes to the reverence with which he regards service, duty, tradition and helping others. His teammates had it, too.

“It’s made me have a greater respect for people in the military,” Robinson added. He is inspired by the level of love that service members have for their country and the personal sacrifices that they are willing to make like being away from their families during deployments.

With a little more time as a military child, Midshipman Joe Cardona’s dad had to miss special occasions while he was going up.

“It was hard not having him there for football practices and sports practices. My mom was real strong; she just made everything normal for us,” Cardona said.

Despite the fact that his dad wasn’t always there for practices and events, Cardona still holds his dad in the highest regard.

“My military hero would be my dad. The way he balanced his military career with raising a family, I think that is something that I will always treasure and something that I will take as an example to try to set and to follow,” said Cardona.

After speaking with these military kids and soon-to-be service members, I have found a new respect for military children. There are not many kids in the world that have to deal with the unique stressors that military kids do and it’s amazing to see how resilient they become as result of it all. The strong bonds that they forge with their families and the values that they hold dear are awe inspiring.

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