What We Can Learn from Military Recruiting Tactics

They’re just plain good at what they do. Consider asking your candidates to sign on for four years; each position might be a tougher sale. It’s a battle for military recruiters, but they have always seemed to have the resources and tactics to get the job done. Here’s what we can learn from military recruiters.


Everything from the uniforms, down to the beer coozies and pens is branded. Each branch has a strong brand that they convey in every step of the recruitment process. They get names, logos, tag lines and colors in front of the candidate at every turn to establish strong brand recognition with everyone. An article from America’s Job Exchange talks about the importance of strong branding in recruiting:

“Employer branding is at the crux of any great recruiting strategy. As social media outlets become commonplace destinations for both consumers and employers alike, it’s important to maintain control of your brand and position your company effectively in front of potential job candidates.”

Creative and Effective Talent Pools

Military recruiters have several avenues to create their talent pools. They have always shown up at high schools, colleges and career fairs with good looking, strong and outgoing personalities to recruit. Now they’re getting more creative with their reach.

The military is now sponsoring or attending some pretty creative outreach events like bull riding, concerts, boxing matches and NASCAR races. They have found the right crowds of young men and women to get in front of, who are typically the most likely to be receptive to their sales pitch.


Again, there’s no competing with this level of mission driven work. ERE contributor, Nathaniel Koloc is the co-founder and CEO of ReWork, a mission-driven recruiting company, said:

“What talented people want has changed. They used to want high salaries to verify their value and stable career paths to allow them to sleep well at night. Now they want purposeful work and jobs that fit clearly into the larger context of their career.”

Showing candidates exactly how their role would fit into the mission is a very effective attraction tactic. This means that the mission statement and values should always be front and center, especially on the website and career page.

Showcase Employees and Brand Ambassadors

Each military recruitment tactic puts their brand ambassadors in the spotlight. Events and commercials highlight troops and give candidates a glimpse at what life could be like. Not all recruiters can afford peak airtime commercials, but they can identify their brand ambassadors and encourage them to foster the employer brand and company culture. Inc. contributor Eric Markowitz talks about how to utilize brand ambassadors for recruiting purposes:

“Brand ambassadors, or employee evangelists, are becoming an increasingly common way for brands to leverage their biggest asset—their workforce, of course—to reach new markets, generate buzz, and put a real face on the company. They can be tweeters, bloggers, Facebookers—or they could just be the people you send to corporate events. More than your firm’s logo or an actor in your company’s commercial, your customers will come to know your ambassadors as true representatives for your business’s mission.”


No one has to inquire about the perks and benefits that come along with joining the military because 1) They offer extremely competitive benefits, and 2) They showcase them. College tuition, the opportunity to travel, and decent insurance are among the things that just about everyone knows will come with signing on.

Known for their ultra-successful recruiting tactics, Zappos has their perks highlighted on the career page with clickable icons to show candidates what they can expect. Why make candidates search or ask about perks or benefits. Put them out there on blast to attract.

The numbers and obstacles that military recruiters face have forced them to get pretty creative with their attraction and engagement efforts. It’s not as much about what they have to offer, as how they communicate that to their potential talent. You’re not joining the military for a whole lot of pay or autonomy, so they focus on what you are joining for.

Take a look at our main blog.

photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc

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Comment by Keith D. Halperin on April 21, 2014 at 11:41am

Thanks, Julie. (A bit OT): Though I'm not a veteran my father (Medical Corps, WWII) and grandfather (Chaplain, WWI) were, and I value those who have served. I also think today's verterans have it much worse than my dad had it with the post WWII GI Bill. Unfortunately, if someone decides not to be career military or *get a marketable degree afterwards, I'm afraid they're even more likely to be un(der)employed than the general population. What our honored vets don't need is more training, guidance, resources, etc.- those are necessary but not sufficient. They need a commitment from major  (and other) employers TO BE HIRED for FT, well-paid, well-benefited positions, and not just as security guards or Walmart Greeters. If those positions don't exist: CREATE THEM, and maybe use the some of the money for the CEOs comp package to hire a few hundred. Furthermore, I'd be willing to pay more in taxes to make sure our vets were well-provided for.


*Does anybody have stats on what percentage of enlisted vets eventually obtain a 4 yr degree or higher?


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