The U.S. Army announced it is hosting National Hiring Days June 30-July 2, 2020, a virtual recruiting event that it hopes will help them recruit 10,000 future soldiers in just three days.
“We’ve not really done this before,” Maj. Gen. Frank Muth said. “This is unprecedented, we have never done something like this in the Army, ever.”
Muth said Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis came up with the idea to have the entire Army support the recruiting mission. Michaelis offered an analogy that McDonald’s had done something similar a few years ago and hired 50,000 people in one day, increasing their employee pool by seven percent.
“We are asking the Army, especially the Army senior leadership outside of recruiting … every division commander, every corps commander, every senior leader, to be an active recruiter for three days in some way, shape, or form,” Muth said. In addition, the Army’s 10,000 recruiters in 1,400 locations will be working hard to fill the ranks as well.
“These folks these days, the Z Generation, they are not just tech savvy, they are tech innate,” Muth said. “You have to understand where they are operating, where they’re living, and where they’re socializing and it’s all on social media and it’s all on e-sports and e-gaming.”
Muth said the intent of the program is to fill training slots the Army has available for August and September 2020. The Army will try to ship all candidates to basic training in less than 60 days, but Muth said most future soldiers can expect to be shipped to basic training in about six weeks and earn a quick ship bonus if they leave in 30 days.
“If they don’t need a lot of medical consults or waivers, if they signed up on the second of July, we can have them on a bus by the latest, the second of August,” Muth said.
Army recruiting was doing well in December 2019, January and February 2020, months that are usually challenging for them. In mid-March, they were 2,224 contracts ahead of where they were last year at the same time.
“We were on this trajectory that we hadn’t seen in years,” Muth said. “We were just crushing it,” he added. “We were crushing months that we normally struggle in.”
Then COVID-19 hit and Army recruiting suffered a 50 percent loss in what they normally recruited.
“COVID-19 definitely changed how we had to recruit and we were lucky we were ready to adjust to it because we had already been on social media and the digital platforms for almost a year and a half at that point,” Muth said.
For those concerned about the Army’s methods to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during training, Muth explained that candidates are asked to self-quarantine for 15 days prior to their departure to basic training. When candidates are 72 hours away from leaving, recruiters check on their recruiters daily until they leave, closely monitoring them to ensure they are social distancing and that no symptoms have developed.
On their departure day, recruits are picked up by recruiters who are wearing a mask and recruits are offered a mask if they do not have one. From thereon in, they must wear a mask at all times.
They are medically screened at the military entrance station and then placed in modes of transportation that are at half capacity. All recruits are given orders to comply with social distancing. At their training sites, the recruits are quarantined for 14 days after getting their temperatures taken and undergoing a COVID-19 test. After 14 days if they are symptom free, they can enter the training cycle which includes social distancing practices.
Muth said young people with a high school diploma can gain many soft and hard skills by joining the Army.
“I know there’s a challenge out there for employment, but that’s not the best reason to join,” Muth said. “The best reason is the things we offer.”
The Army has 150 occupations individuals can pursue including 50 healthcare jobs. Once training is complete, soldiers are certified and fully qualified in their jobs. Muth added that after four years a soldier can leave the Army and pursue a degree and get 100 percent state college tuition, in addition to living and book stipends. Soldiers can also pursue their degrees during their enlistments.
“While you’re on active duty you can also get up to $4,000 per year to help pay for your degree,” Muth said.
Muth mentioned that when he talks to civilian employers, they tell him that the Gen Z struggles with attendance, communication, professionalism, teamwork, and leadership.
“We teach all of those soft skills,” Muth said. “The Army teaches that. You can stay for the career, for 20 years, or you can be out in four years and go right to college with all of those skill sets,” Muth said.
Candidates with a college degree may be eligible for a $40,000 bonus and for those with student loan debt, there is payment help, Muth said.
“We pay up to $65,000 in student loan debt if they came in for four years,” Muth said.
In addition, Muth said, college educated recruits also get additional training and skills that translate and help them develop. On top of all that cash, candidates can also earn money from the GI Bill which they can use to get a graduate degree or they can share all or some of their educational benefits with their spouses or children.
“The Z Generation—compared to some of the millennial generation—they want to serve, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Muth said. “They’re not necessarily out there wanting to make a killing in terms of money, but they just want to be part of something and give back,” he said.
“The message is, join us,” Muth said. “We need a diverse Army that represents all of America.”
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