Reserve, Guard recruiters work as a team to bring best customer service

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chance Babin
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

While recruiters are competitive by nature, a trio of recruiters in Florida have found that working together is not only the right thing to do, it’s the best thing for Airmen coming off active duty trying to decide if they want to continue serving.

In-service recruiters are career counselors who meet with Airmen separating from active duty and offer opportunities to continue their service part time with the Reserve or National Guard.

“In this role, we are regularly engaging with active duty enlisted members and officers who are considering departing the regular Air Force,” said Master Sgt. Sarah Kim, the ANG in-service recruiter here. “Our goal is to encourage their continuation of service in a reserve component whether it be Guard or Reserve. By working together, we want to send the message that we have their best interests at heart. If the Guard component is not a good fit due to location, AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) or other opportunity, it is far more beneficial to that individual that I refer them to the component that best suits their needs and/or career goals.”

Kim has teamed up with her Reserve counterparts at each of the joint briefings and one-on-one appointments with applicants. They also relay this message to base leadership, first sergeants and career assistance advisors.

“The Reserve and Guard would always brief Palace Chase and Palace Front at informed decision briefings, but would do so at different times,” said Master Sgt. Travis Williams, the Reserve ISR at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida. “We decided to get together and work on a presentation where we briefed the benefits and would allow the members to ask questions. This gave more time for Q and A because we weren’t briefing the same subject separately. The majority of our mission and benefits are the same, and we both saw the value in working together.”

Kim is the ISR at both MacDill and Patrick, and she says taking care of Airmen is her No. 1 job.

“My first assignment as an ISR was at Tyndall AFB prior to being transferred to MacDill after Hurricane Michael,” Kim said. “For the past six years in this role, I have made it my priority to work with the Reserve as a Total Force team to ensure we properly communicate to ensure we are providing exceptional customer service to our applicants. I always strive to build rapport with the Air Force Reserve recruiting team at almost every level – ISRs, flight chiefs, line recruiters, etc…”

For one of Kim’s Reserve counterparts, the teamwork is making a difference in his approach to retaining talent in the Air Force.

“We feel this is best for the Airmen who are attending the briefing to see the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard standing side by side as one air component working together, not against one another,” said Master Sgt. Shane Hogan, the Reserve ISR at MacDill. “We have noticed since we have been briefing together that the Airmen are more open and willing to ask questions. We also have noticed a better rapport with the audience and applicants we work with.”

In the past, the Guard and Reserve have sometimes had an adversarial relationship because they are competing for the same people. But as Air Force Recruiting Service continues to make strides toward Total Force recruiting, the goal is to become one team representing the regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.

“Competition is what fuels the desire not to work together, and that’s not in the best interest of the Air Force or the Airman when it comes to In-Service Recruiting,” Williams said. “I’ve seen ISRs from both the ANG and AFR try to bring the other branch down in order to make their branch more appealing. While we all have goals and conversion ratios, I don’t feel this style of recruiting is good for anyone. By tearing each other down during our briefings, we were actually hurting all involved.

“I’m sure some people who were on the fence decided not to join either reserve component because of this behavior,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, we are all wearing the same uniform and fighting for the same country. We need to work together and give the Airmen the information they need to make an informed decision about their future.”

While all recruiters do have a goal to reach, these recruiters believe doing the job with integrity will pay dividends in the long run.

“You don’t have to win them all and treat your job like a numbers game,” Kim said. “But when applicants and key leaders are aware of your reputation to always do what is best for the Airmen, it truly comes back to you 10-fold. The feedback I’ve been give over the years from Airmen applicants who have seen recruiters work against each other is there tends to be distrust. They perceive that person is just trying to close a sale versus taking a vested interest in their career goals.”

Prior-service Airmen are the lifeblood for the reserve components because they are already trained and experienced.

“Both the Guard and Reserve want fully qualified Airmen who are separating from active duty to continue to serve in the ANG and AFR,” Hogan said. “By recruiting and gaining these fully qualified Airmen, it provides an essential weapon. They can provide training to not just younger Airmen, but to NCOs as well. It also helps the wing in terms of deployment readiness.”

For these recruiters, there is a balance between reaching goal and doing the right thing.

“Recruiting can be a tough gig if you’re always chasing a number,” Williams said. “If you treat people right and do the right thing, the numbers will fall into place. ISRs have a major responsibility that most of us don’t realize on a daily basis. We are there to not only help our component achieve goal, but also help Airmen with a major life decision as they transfer back into the civilian sector.”

Williams said he believes regardless of what Airmen do after leaving active duty, they should be congratulated for their time in uniform.

“I tell every Airman I have a briefing with the same thing, regardless if you decide to continue serving the AFR, thank you for your service,” Williams said. “I mean that sincerely. You are doing what most Americans won’t. You served our country, and for that, thank you.”