By Wes O’Donnell, Veteran U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force
This is the third article in our five-part series on solving the ongoing military recruiting crisis. In each article, I’ll explore a possible solution to the ongoing challenge. You can find part two here.
In the second part of this series on solving the ongoing military recruiting crisis, I looked at modernizing military compensation and benefits as a possible solution. Let’s dive deeper and discuss leveraging technology in recruiting.
Utilizing technology for recruitment outreach, online application processes, and virtual engagement with potential recruits could be a game changer.
Leveraging technology is a critical strategy in modernizing military recruitment efforts and addressing the challenges posed by the military recruiting crisis.
Advancements in technology have opened up new avenues for engaging with potential recruits, streamlining the application process, and enhancing the overall recruitment experience.
Digital Recruitment Platforms: Establishing online recruitment platforms allows the military to reach a wider audience of potential recruits. These platforms can serve as a centralized hub for information on various military career opportunities, benefits, and requirements. Through interactive websites, social media channels, and mobile applications, the military can engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds and locations, catering to the preferences of the tech-savvy younger generation.
This goes beyond the traditional recruiting-focused pages of the respective military branches but instead focuses on an online community of like-minded individuals passionate about serving their country. This could include Twitch, Discord, and Reddit communities among other platforms.
Regarding candidates who may be ineligible due to not having a high school diploma, fully online, accredited high schools like Citizens High School make it easy for individuals to earn their high school diploma in just a few short months.
Recruiters should have schools like CHS on their contact list for those potential recruits who walk into a recruiting office lacking a high school diploma.
Social Media and Digital Marketing: Social media platforms offer an excellent opportunity for the military to connect with potential recruits. Targeted advertising and engaging content can raise awareness about military service, showcasing the diverse career paths and benefits it offers.
Moreover, social media enables direct interaction with interested candidates, addressing their queries and concerns in real time. The Department of Defense already does a good job of engaging on social media, however, the DoD should consider more intimate experiences, like private groups.
Private groups like this provide a sense of exclusivity.
Virtual Recruiting Events: Organizing virtual recruiting events, such as webinars, virtual job fairs, and live Q&A sessions, enables the military to interact with potential recruits remotely. These events provide a glimpse into military life, career opportunities, and the application process, all from the comfort of the candidates’ homes.
Virtual engagements are particularly advantageous for reaching individuals who may live in remote areas or have limited access to traditional recruitment events.
In addition, recruiting commands should consider hosting an “Ask Me Anything” or AMA for young people to get their questions answered about military service.
Gamification and Simulations: Leveraging gamification and interactive simulations can create an immersive and engaging experience for potential recruits. Interactive training modules and virtual boot camps can offer a taste of military training and challenges, allowing candidates to experience the military environment and assess their interests and suitability.
VR technology can play a significant role in training and recruitment. It allows potential recruits to experience realistic military scenarios, enhancing their understanding of the challenges and responsibilities involved in military service. VR training can also help identify candidates with the necessary skills and temperament to thrive in military roles.
VR systems like those by Oculus and Apple Vision Pro are great recruiting tools. Imagine letting a recruit stand on the flight deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier and experience flight operations, or show the candidate what to expect in basic training by removing some of the apprehension around boot camp.
Online Application Process: Simplifying the application process streamlines recruitment efforts. Online application forms and platforms reduce paperwork and administrative burden, making it more convenient for candidates to apply and makes for better record-keeping.
Additionally, integrating AI-driven application systems can efficiently identify suitable candidates based on their qualifications and preferences, including what occupation groups a candidate might be best suited for.
Data Analytics for Targeted Outreach: Utilizing data analytics can assist in identifying trends and patterns related to successful recruitment strategies. By analyzing data on candidate preferences, demographic profiles, and conversion rates, the military can tailor its outreach efforts to specific target groups, increasing the chances of attracting suitable candidates.
In this sense, traditional analytics, like marketing ROI, could be retooled to get a better understanding of which groups prefer certain occupations.
In an era where technology pervades all aspects of life, leveraging digital tools and innovations is essential for military recruiting efforts.
By embracing technology, the military can widen its reach, engage with potential recruits effectively, and streamline the application process, all while adapting to the preferences and expectations of the tech-savvy generation.
Virtual engagements, social media marketing, online applications, and gamification are just a few examples of how technology can revolutionize military recruitment, paving the way for stronger and more diverse armed forces capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
In the next part of our ongoing series, I’ll look at better communicating the value proposition to attract more GenZ recruits. For instance, the immediate benefits of joining are substantial, but in reality, there is a lifetime of value in joining the military – from a network for life to tangible things like VA home loans.