Recruiting a Path Forward

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson
  • Airman Magazine
 

  "I get to spread awareness, and initially walking into that recruiting office, I don't think I was what you pictured for your picture-perfect model recruit. So, it's crazy to be back where I'm from, giving back to the same community that I grew up in, talking to the same people."

-Staff Sgt. Tori Glover, 319th Recruiting Squadron enlisted accessions active duty recruiter
 

  
 
  “Wake up, sweetheart. Did you sleep okay? Ready to get dressed and see your teachers?”

  It’s 7 a.m. at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, and Staff Sgt. Tori Glover, 319th Recruiting Squadron enlisted accessions active duty recruiter, is getting her daughter ready to have breakfast at the Child Development Center around the corner. After many hugs, kisses, tears and sighs, Glover begins her commute to downtown Boston, where she screens and recruits curious civilians for the U.S. Air Force.

  “Our average recruiter covers 2,200 square miles of area per recruiter,” said Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca Arbona, Air Force Recruiting Service command chief. “Not everybody has had the pleasure of living near an installation; that being said, some people just don't know about the military. When I came in the service, 45% of people serving had parents that served, so you're getting the information at home. Fast forward to now: it's just 13%, so basically, we're working from scratch. Our recruiter's have their work cut out for them, and we, as a service, have to figure out how we can go out and showcase what we have to offer.”

  Glover was introduced to the military through her brother, who joined the Army when she was 16. He got stationed in Hawaii, where he met and married his wife, who was active-duty Navy. When Glover turned 21, the young couple was expecting a child and needed a designated caregiver to fulfill the obligations of their family care plan. Glover had just started working full-time but was undecided about her career plans.

  “I didn't really have a clear path of what I wanted to do,” Glover recalled. “I always wanted to go to college, but being the third child of a single mom, I didn't have the means to afford it. I wasn't going to do the student loans and put myself through that after seeing my brother and my sister try and then ultimately fail.”

  Her brother invited her to Hawaii to be the nanny for her newborn niece, which she did for nearly seven months before she started looking into the Air Force Reserve.

 
 
  “The biggest takeaway for me was that while living with my brother and sister-in-law, with them being in [the service], they would come home and when they took their uniform off, it was still my brother, it's still my sister-in-law,” Glover said. “People that I love and trust and that played a key role in, I think, me even having the confidence to start the process.”

  Glover attempted to join multiple services but was met with indifference from her initial recruiters.

  “I went from one branch to another branch to another branch; things just weren't lining up, and it was exhausting, honestly,” Glover recalled. “My brother ended up sending me back to Massachusetts and said, ‘You're not appreciative of why we brought you out here’.”  

  Upon her return, and to prove her brother wrong, Glover started going to the recruiting office in Quincy, Massachusetts, which is 40 minutes south of where she currently lives.

  “My recruiter actually gave me a shot and had it not been for him, I wouldn't be here,” Glover emphasized. “It's crazy to me because I never really pictured myself being a recruiter. I get to spread awareness, and initially walking into that recruiting office, I don't think I was what you pictured for your picture-perfect model recruit. So, it's crazy to be back where I'm from, giving back to the same community that I grew up in, talking to the same people.” 

 
 
  After graduating from basic military training and technical training school, Glover was stationed at Nellis AFB, Nevada, working as a weather specialist. She was looking through social media sites to find more information about special duty assignments and to gauge the flexibility of a military training instructor’s day-to-day schedule. She ultimately decided being a recruiter would work better with her family situation.

  Currently, Air Force recruiters are selected from Airmen presently serving in the Air Force through a program known as a Developmental Special Duty. Periodically, specific assignments will become available and are advertised by the Air Force Personnel Center. Each career field manager will determine how many Airmen will be selected and released from their current job to fill these positions. Airmen can apply and are then selected based on their eligibility, location and interview.

  “We have been able to get approval to grow our line recruiter force by 91 additional recruiters, and those will be phasing in over the next six months or so as we bring them in,” explained Brig. Gen. Christopher R. Amrhein, Air Force Recruiting Service commander. “If people want to be a recruiter, they need to communicate that to their leadership and then get put in for this Developmental Special Duty. Recruiting isn't for everyone, so there's an element of reviewing and making sure that we're identifying the right talent so we don't set somebody up that may not be the best fit.”

  If they’re selected, they travel to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for their technical training school, where they learn the ropes, graduate and travel to their new duty location where the real work begins.

 
 
  “In any given year, we ask a ton of our recruiting force; it is the leanest of all of the services,” Amrhein emphasized. “This past year we had to ask a little bit more from them; we asked them to go into a sprint and we ran that for almost five months at, what I would consider, the deployed operations tempo. Each of the commanders realized when it was time to start pulling back that tempo. That's a way of making sure that the command protects the resiliency of our recruiters and what they need. Additionally, it is important to maintain staunch advocacy of the incentives such as their special duty allowance pay and addressing their concerns when they come up.”

  One of the most prevalent concerns for Air Force recruiters is making goals. Recruiters are having trouble finding recruits that fully meet current qualification standards, which has led to the Air Force reaching nearly 90% of its fiscal year 2023 goal of enlisting 26,877 recruits. This has also led to revising the Air Force’s tattoo policy and reinstating the Enlisted College Loan Repayment Program. The Air Force has also streamlined its path to U.S. citizenship by shortening the criteria for achieving citizenship from one year of service, to immediately following the completion of basic military training.

  “Yes, we missed [the recruiting goal] by just under 11%, but without some of these initiatives and a total surge by our recruiting force, we could have missed by a lot more, probably closer to 16 to 18%,” Amrhein explained. “We're walking into fiscal year 2024 with a higher bank of folks that are already pre-qualified and waiting; almost twice as high as it was when we walked from 2022 into 2023.”

  These policy changes have directly impacted Glover and how she and the 319th RCS have approached recruiting efforts over the past few months. In addition to the 91 added recruiting billets allowing her office to fill two spots that had been vacant for six years, they launched the Committed Augmentee Recruiting Effort initiative in July. It allowed Airmen in other career fields to volunteer as recruiter augmentees at local events to help identify eligible recruits and connect them with the 319th RCS.

 
 
  “They're fielding leads and they're trying to basically vet them before getting to the recruiter to try to take some of those extra steps off of us,” Glover explained. “When we did get a lead, they were pre-screened, and we didn’t have to spend 20 to 30 minutes just figuring out if they're qualified.”

  In addition to the CARE initiative saving time, the tattoo policy also helped Glover easily clear what used to be a significant hurdle.

  “I have an applicant right now who has a rose that covers the back/top of his hand, but the Air Force actually considers the front and back for the hand policy,” Glover explained. “It looks larger, but it only comes out to about 15% of his hand. This is a huge thing because I know in times past we've had to always refer them to other services that were more lenient, so that was an easy fix to be able to overcome. It’s the same with small finger tattoos and things of that nature.”

  The changes in processes, standards and policies allow recruiters to focus on the basics, which ensures the best and brightest make it through the application process and join the ranks of the world’s greatest Air Force.

  “I think my favorite thing about this job is knowing that I am that initial point for someone else, but my own recruiting narrative is not a typical story,” Glover emphasized. “I think that having gone through what I've gone through, and speaking with multiple recruiters in multiple branches, it's kind of come full circle. To be able to help as many people as I can is my entire goal in this job.”

 
 
  Though Glover’s been in the Air Force for nearly eight years and plans to stay in recruiting by moving up to the tier-2 portion of the job, she explained that she wasn’t really committed until after she gave birth to her daughter. She didn’t enjoy the Air Force at first, and even had a chief master sergeant decline her application to retrain out of the weather career field into a different specialty prior to her applying for recruiting.

  “He said there's a freedom that comes from fully committing to something,” Glover explained. “He was talking about the Air Force because I was one foot in and one foot out. I had started my initial separation briefs prior to getting pregnant with my daughter. I went through the whole first enlistment thinking ‘when I get out, when I get out, when I get out,’ and not realizing everything that I'd fought so hard to gain.

  “Even when I had a bad day or I had a bad week, at the end of the day, I still had everything that I wanted and everything that I needed. I have no one to thank but myself and the Air Force for that. When I finally decided, ‘I’m just going to do 20,’ I realized that I could use tuition assistance for myself, and now my daughter has my GI Bill. The Air Force has not only provided amazing opportunities, education and the life that I have now, but it also has now provided a future for my daughter. Twenty-one-year-old me was never planning for that.”


03:04
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  Staff Sgt. Tori Glover is an enlisted accessions active-duty recruiter in Boston, Mass. Her office sits on a corner adorned with construction scaffolding, just across from the Boston Common. She manages the ambivalence of balancing her life at home with her responsibilities as an Air Force recruiter. (U.S. Air Force video by Tyler Prince.)

   

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