Lessons for Private-sector Employers

By Patrick Kiger

Nov. 2, 2005

Here are lessons that private employers can learn from the Army’s recruiting efforts, synthesized from interviews with Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, information provided by the Army, and other sources.

Make sure that your recruiters have solid ethical practices
    When some Army recruiters were accused of falsifying documents for recruits and helping them cheat on entrance tests, it hurt the image of an organization that depends upon appealing to recruits’ values.

    Private employers would do well to follow Rochelle’s idea of having recruiters spend one day a year reflecting upon the culture of the organization that they’re trying to staff. During a stand-down ordered by Rochelle in May, recruiters were required to come to work and watch a videotaped message from him and then formally reaffirm their oath to the Army.

    They also participated in discussions about why personal integrity, values and ethics are important and necessary in their work.

Use the Web to communicate directly and in real time with potential employees
    For most employers, the idea of receiving résumés by e-mail and using Web sites to attract and screen potential hires is nothing new. But the Army takes it a step further, inviting visitors at its Web site into chat rooms where they can communicate with Army recruiters and ask specific questions. A private employer who leverages technology in a similar fashion can enable a handful of in-house recruiters to have personal contact with larger numbers of potential recruits across the nation.

Reach out to those who influence your potential hires
    The Army learned through focus group research that 17- to 24-year-olds frequently seek advice on major life decisions and value the opinions of parents, teachers and other older adults in their lives. Thus, the service targeted its advertising campaign at those “influencers” as well as potential recruits themselves.

    A private employer, following the Army’s example, might try to influence the spouse or family members of a job candidate by arranging activities for them during an interview trip or talking to them about the desirability of the company’s locale.

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