What You Can Learn About Employee Recruiting From the Military

Jan. 10, 2014
Think it’s tough finding a few technicians?  How about recruiting people to travel to the armpits of world where everyone wants to kill them?  The military does it year in and year out.  Here’s what you can learn from armed forces recruiting.

Sell the Benefits – Opportunity, Training, Team

Military recruiting ads stress opportunity, training, teamwork, and mission.  What are the benefits you offer?  Go beyond pay and insurance.  Everyone offers a paycheck.  What will someone learn working for you?  What training will you provide or send employees to?  What technology do you use?  What tools do you provide?

How can you emphasize that your company is a team with an important mission?  You do have an important mission.  You keep homes warm during frigid weather. You keep homes comfortable during the summer heat.  Because of you, people can feel secure locking their doors and windows when it’s hot outside.  Because of you, people get a good night’s sleep.  You ensure the safety of gas combustion heating systems.  You help people afford comfort.

Value Attitude over Past Performance

The military takes the least experienced people in the country and transforms them IF they have the right attitude. Attitude may be the most important characteristic for a new hire.  Attitudes are contagious.  Someone with a poor attitude can drag your entire company down. 

Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Look for Reasons to Qualify, Not Disqualify Candidates

Often, contractors approach the interview with the objective of discovering what’s wrong with a candidate.  Instead, look for positive characteristics that you can work with.  Look for reasons why someone is qualified, not for reasons why he is not.  If someone is truly unqualified, it will be obvious.

Use All Media

The military advertises for recruits the way most companies advertise for customers.  They utilize broadcast media.  How about you?  Consider radio or cable television.  Granted, you are seeking a narrow segment of the population, technicians do listen to the radio and are likely to watch certain cable shows. 

A recruiting ad serves a dual purpose.  In addition to attracting employees, it positions your company will with the public.  People want to do business with growing companies that provide training and opportunity for people.  Not only does the growth indicate that you’re doing something right, your efforts to attract good people suggest that your employees will take better care of your customers.

Don’t overlook social media.  Recruit technicians using Twitter and Facebook.

Create YouTube Videos

The military has made good use of video.  Watch this recruiting ad for the army.  It makes you want to enlist.

Hire film students from a local university to film, edit, and assemble a recruiting video that mimics some of the military videos.  They all use inspirational music, show people working together, and show people using high tech equipment.  The military doesn’t show blood, sweat, and tears.  It shows achievement, pride, and purpose.  Military recruiting videos position the military as a higher calling. 

Always Recruit

Do not wait until you’ve got an idle truck to recruit.  Recruit constantly.  Recruit year round.  If you lack an opening, the recruiting is insurance.  Knowing you have suitable candidates to replace a difficult employee also serves to strengthen your spine if you find yourself employing a prima donna performer.

Use Bonuses

Even the military pays hiring bonuses.  While the mission matters, so does the money.  If a bonus is necessary to get the right person sooner, it’s money well spent.

Want to learn more about effective employee recruiting and retention?  Come to the International Roundtable conference in Las Vegas April 15-17.  CLICK HERE for more information or call toll free 877.262.3341.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.