Recruitment has never been an easy ticket. Marine Corps recruiters are responsible for finding, contracting, and shipping America’s sons and daughters to recruit training. But since its inception of the all-volunteer force in 1973, Marine Corps recruiters have never shied away from a challenge. And while each year brings new challenges and opportunities, Marine Corps recruiters find new and unique ways to change lives and accomplish their mission.
About 3,800 of the approximately 180,000 Marines in the Marine Corps currently claim the title of “recruiter”, or 2.1% of the total workforce. Most Marines don’t know what goes into a recruiter’s workday, and what freedoms — and responsibilities — come with quartering. Colonel Lance Langfeldt, 6th Marine Corps district commander, sought to change that.
Starting in June 2022, Langfeldt launched a new initiative: Pacesetters Leading the Way. The task was simple: District staff will attach themselves to a recruiting substation and work with recruiters for a single day. This initiative, he believed, would give district staff an opportunity to see how hard recruiters work and give a better idea of a recruiter’s workload.
Two months into the initiative, Marines return to headquarters with a new understanding and appreciation for what 6MCD recruiters do.
“It was an eye-opening experience; I would say as young adults as well, in addition to being a Marine, something we can work on is having communication skills. Cpl. Tania Bryant, Administrative Clerk
“Recruitment is about combat and mission achievement. It can be very stressful, and just by the demeanor and expressions of the recruiter I was with, Staff Sergeant. Atkinson, he knew exactly what he was doing. He was in a hurry to find the one he thought was suitable for the Marine Corps. It was definitely encouraging and motivating,” said Cpl. Tania Bryant, an administrative worker who recently worked on the campaign at the recruiting substation in Savannah, Georgia.
Recruiting often forces Marines to step out of their comfort zone and interact with an unfamiliar demographic of young adults. One way to do this is to simply call them. Cpl. Darnell Cabbagestalk, a supply clerk who traveled to RSS North Charleston, South Carolina, found that simple tasks like making phone calls were more difficult than expected.
“There are people, when you talk to them, it’s a bit difficult,” Cabbagestalk said of his experience trying to connect with contacts obtained at different door-to-door events throughout the year. “There were a few times I got hung up in the middle of a conversation, or a few responses that I didn’t really like, but you have to get over that. You can’t be in your feelings or overly sensitive about it, because it will affect your point of attack and your whole day.
Recruiting is a strategic process, and beyond the basic Marine Corps recruiting school at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, it can take Navy recruiters months to master the necessary skills. Staff Sgt. Ivan Lebron Jr. works as part of the 6MCD training team which coordinates Pacesetters Leading the Way training. The training is simple and effective, teaching basic procedures on starting conversations, building relationships and active listening.
His dedication to recruiting is rooted in his own experience as a 2013 recruiter where Lebron found a passion for changing lives and helping young men and women find their place in the Marine Corps. He nurtured this passion and eventually became a career recruiter in 2015.
“For me, I hope the number of people coming out will increase, but my favorite part is teaching classes. I love teaching and I think Marines love getting different information than their usual MOS. [military occupation specialty] duties,” Lebron said. He explained that the campaign’s incentives were not only beneficial to the mission, but also to Marines who were not on recruiting duty. “For a Pfc. at the district, we were like, ‘Hey go recruit for a day, come back a lance corporal.’ It’s a great opportunity; usually you have to do it in your spare time!
Since its launch in June, Pacesetters Leading the Way has successfully shown Marines at Headquarters how much it takes to be successful in recruiting. The initiative will continue until August, when district staff will evaluate the results and determine next steps. At the end of the summer, recruiters renew their efforts at local high schools, and district staff return to headquarters with new understanding and vigor to help recruiters succeed.