Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Some advice

Unfortunatly it seems that my inbox has become a place for people to send all sorts of stories about recruiting. That will teach me to get indigniant when someone lies about their service. No good deed goes unpunished.

The most recent one to make it past my Gmail filter is about a recruiter in NJ who apparently wrote some stupid things in an email with a potential prospect. Here's my advice for us recruiters. If you're writing an email to anyone and you see that you've written "VOODOO LIMBO TANGO AND WANGO DANCE AND JUMP AROUND AND PRANCE AND RUN ALL OVER THE PLACE HALF NAKED," stop.

Just stop.

I mean it. Stop.

There is no fathomable way that an email which says that will end well for you. None. Zero. Nyet. When your spellcheck suggests something for "WANGO" just hit "cancel" and delete the message.

There are so many things in that email exchange that are just wrong. The recruiter should have just stopped at "You're disqualified." Any responses after that are destined to end ugly. Alloying a disqualified person to goad you into doing serious damage to your career is a bad choice.

Anyways, now that's out of the way, let me share some other pearls of wisdom I've learned. Hopefully new recruiters will one day read this and think "hum, maybe I shouldn't do that." If so, I'll consider this blog a success.

1. Your USAREC email address is not the email address you want to use when sending sweet nothings to the object of your affections. Even in the best case you wouldn't want your first sergeant to know what your wife's pet name for you is. You just don't. So don't get into pornographic detail about your plans for the weekend when you're on RSVPN. Bad idea. Your AKO is only a slightly less stupid idea.

2. Skippy always talks. Your applicant will not shut-up about that open speeding ticket. You can grill the kid for hours and the moment someone at MEPS asks him he'll tell all about it, and be more than happy to write a statement. It's not worth it. If it's traffic he can find the money. If it's something more serious, run the waiver. If it's something which isn't waivable then you don't want him in the Army anyway. Telling Skippy to "not mention it" is just begging to be standing at attention in front of the battalion commander. I only want that for my PCS award (who am I kidding?).

3. Skippy always lies. That kid is not going to tell you everything. She's not going to tell the Station Commander everything. The only person they'll tell everything to is Doc. The moment they walk into med they will remember every single time they ever thought they might be sick. You can't hot seat someone enough. Ask them the same questions over and over in different ways. You can ask her if she's ever done drugs and she will be so high that she forgot she did a line of coke that afternoon.

4. Keep it in your pants. Repeat after me: The LRL is not a dating service. That goes double for your high school LRL and quadruple for the junior LRL. I don't care how hot she is, or how short those shorts are (and dear God can they be short), remember #3. You will not get away with it, and when it catches up to you everything is going to come out. To top it off they'll probably fry you with evidence found from violating #1.

5. The GOV is for official use. I know how you feel, I feel the same way. Running a personal errand while you're out and about is fine. Taking your date to see 300 in your G-ride is not. Taking your date behind the movie theatre after 300 is defintaly not.

6. Assume you're talking to the press. There have been enough people who have gone into recruiting stations trying to get someone on tape doing something stupid that you need to assume you're dealing with that. It's not hard folks. Don't tell that call-in he doesn't need to reveal his law violations. Don't tell that eager walk-in you can "take care of" his drug use. Don't email someone suggesting they do a "limbo tango wango" dance. It's a bad idea. Assume the kid you're talking to will tell everyone what you just said until you know for sure they're not out to get you. And even then don't be stupid.

7. Don't be stupid. This shouldn't need explaination. If you don't understand it you're violating it.

8. The phone is your friend. It's the friend who makes fun of you and you not-so-secretly hate them, but it's a friend nonetheless. Believe it or not, if you smile and dial long enough eventually you'll find someone who wants to join the office. And if you keep doing it eventually one of them will be qualified enough to do so. Don't believe me if you want, just don't blame me when you're at the office at 2200.

9. They didn't rush, they're just dumb. More than one recruiter has wasted too much time working with someone who is just never going to pass the ASVAB. They all have excuses and reasons. You know the reason though, they're just not smart enough. If they fail the test, claim they studied, and their scores get lower, they're not going to get better. It's terminal. Waste no more of your time. I'm not telling you to give up someone who wants to join. What I'm saying is know when to cut bait. The 30 days between the first ASVAB and the retest is enough time to demonstrate improvement. If they don't, they're not.

10. The only person who thinks it's the market is you. I'm not smart enough to figure out how missions are assigned. The statisical analysis that goes into it is ungodly. I tried to look at it one time and the math involved made me drool. Suffice to say though, the mission will always seem high. Even when it's not high, it will seem high when you're three short on the Saturday before Mission Monday. When you're asked why you failed to make mission/enlist three/ enlist one/ not finish on a -2 the only acceptable answer is "I suck." If you suggest anything else you can kiss a couple hours good bye. You and I both know that there is one zip code in your area with nothing but farmland and desert, which has all of 14 people under age 40 in it, and that zip code is reponsible for 25% of your mission because two years ago the Marine recruiter next door enlisted three brothers from one family whose father retired from the USMC. It doesn't matter what the reality is because it looks like you don't have a dominant market share in that zip code.

11. The planning guide is reality and reality is the planning guide. If and when my time in recruiting ends I'm posting a YouTube video of me half naked, jumping and dancing tango-wango style around a fire. The fuel for the fire will be my planning guide. Until then though this pleather bound Necronomicon represents you and your day. Don't be the guy getting caught with a jacked up planning guide. Don't be the guy in the station who can't figure your conversion data. Don't be the guy who doesn't have your mission assignment in your planning guide. It doesn't matter if you don't do what you put in your guide if you're enlisting people, but I guarantee the first thing they'll look at when you're getting your "letter of concern" will be that black-as-death abomination. Save yourself the stress of having to fill out three months worth of work when you're on the five mile drive to the CLT and keep it up-to-date.

12. Everyone in the recruiting process blames everyone else. You're the only one who will pay. Recruiters blame the guidance shop and Med. Med blames the Recruiter and the Guidance Shop. Guidance Shop blames Med and the Recruiter. At the end of the day the person having to drive downtown to pick up an unhappy applicant and then ride back with them to try and get them excited about enlisting again is you, the Recruiter. Even when it's someone else's fault, you're still the one having to pay the price. USAREC doesn't give contract credit for "almost" (I've asked). As much as it pains me to say it, and it's advice I've rarely lived by, suck it up and drive on. You need the GC and Med way more than they need you. Having a Guidance Counselor dislike you is a sure fire way to find your guys enlisting last and nit-picky errors holding up your enlistment.

13. ARISS is broke, everyone knows it and doesn't care. You will always get an error for the selective service number. Foreign nationals living in foreign countries in the family block won't validate without going into EPSQ. Even if you fix everything it will still fail to pass validation because of some error. There are multiple computer systems involved in putting someone into the Army. They are all massive. They are all important. And they are all slightly incompatible with each other. It's like trying to run Windows on a Mac that's using Linux. Two years later I'm still amazed when a packet clears MIRS, GCR, and ARISS.

14. I'm not a good recruiter so be careful taking my advice. If I enlist someone there is a disturbing amount of luck involved in the process. I was made into a recruiter involuntarily and I'm eagerly awaiting my return to the non-recruiting world. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone more openly cynical about recruiting (I started a blog about it where I use my real name). However, for some bizarre reason the Recruiting Gods have chosen to damn me with some small measure of success. I don't have the answer or the explaination for how and why that success occurs (it might be tied to virgin sacrifice). When pressed I can give the "sooper smrt" answer which sounds good, however, for me, it all boils down to the good fortune of finding that one person who is ready to go. Whether that's the first person I approach at a school set-up, or the 348th phone call I made that day, it all boils down to them saying "yes".


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