By Staff Sgt. Cody Ledbetter
USAREC, Los Angeles Battalion
Feb. 8, 2016
I volunteered for recruiting in 2013 because I wanted to spend more time with my family, develop new skills, and continue making a difference. I'd been an active duty Military Police officer for 13 years.
I reported to the Los Angeles Battalion in October 2014 after graduating with honors from the Army Recruiter Course. In my first 15 months in USAREC, I have produced 57 contracts.
I'd always heard horror stories about how tough recruiting was and that only the strong survive. I found that to be only partly true.
At first, it was hard to grasp the concept. Several of my co-workers seemed too busy to train a new recruiter, so I had to learn from the few who wanted to help.
I did a lot of research on social media marketing and started networking. My main mentor, Master Sgt. Eric Mills, who worked at the Los Angeles MEPS, showed me something new every time I saw him.
I realized that recruiting is an art. You cannot be afraid to talk to people about the U.S. Army. You have to be a chameleon, able to adjust to any environment.
I already had developed good interpersonal communication skills through my experience as an MP, so I had no issues speaking to anyone. But for those of you who are shy, you have to lose that mentality or you won't succeed.
After putting 17 people in the Army during my first six months, I wanted a new challenge. I took on recruiting MAVNI applicants.
At first it was difficult to understand, but after researching immigration laws and visas, etc., I came up with my own systematic process for efficiently processing MAVNI applicants. I tailored my social media marketing skills for MAVNI. I reached out to the "heavy hitters" for the MAVNI Program and several helped me to quickly get up to speed.
Since I volunteered for recruiting, I already had a desire to recruit and do it successfully. For those who are DA selected for USAREC, I've found that's not always true.
The success of the Army depends on the success of USAREC. My advice to other recruiters is this:
A. During your first month of recruiting, focus on learning all you can from your mentor. You cannot just jump right into production, you have to learn the techniques of recruiting. If you're a center leader, ensure your experienced recruiters are taking care of the new ones. Don't just throw him or her into the mix and say "I need two per month." You have to groom new recruiters, because we only learn the basics at the ARC.
B: Have the right attitude. You have to want to be a winner. You have to fully dedicate yourself to being successful, you have to want your team to be the top dog. Competition breeds success. If you think outside the box and come up with new, successful prospecting ideas, you can spread the word to your peers. The only way we're going to be successful in USAREC, is if we help each other and work as a team. Recruiters call and email me from all over the country. I'm not selfish. I'll share my TTPs with anyone who wants to learn.
C. Social media is the best contact and communication tool for reaching prospects. I make about 75 percent of my contacts through social media, 15 percent through face to face prospecting, and 10 percent from phone calls.
The social media platform I use most is Instagram. I find out who the popular high school juniors and seniors are, locate them on Instagram, then follow everyone who follows the popular kids. This spreads out your Instagram allowing you to create a sort of inner network to find who has college plans and who doesn't. If you do this with multiple schools, your network will be huge and the referrals will come. Kids today are not using Facebook near as much as in the past. High school students are also active on Snapchat.
D: Last but not least, don't treat applicants like a number. Get to know them, establish a professional relationship. When the applicant swears in, be there. Take a picture with your applicant and post it all over social media, with the applicant's permission, of course. Your target market will see it, it will spark their interest, and your production will explode!
My personal goal for this fiscal year is to write 79 contracts, which I know I will achieve and likely exceed. One Team!