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Accomplishing the Recruiting Mission

Recruiting Special Ops I
By Peter Weddle
Courtesy Weddle's Newsletter

As some of you know, I was graduated from West Point. And for anyone who's ever served in the Armed Forces, you know that once a soldier, always a soldier (or sailor, airman or Marine). One aspect of my time in uniform, however, has stuck with me more than others. While on active duty, I was also trained to be an airborne Ranger.

Rangers are the elite of America's fighting forces. They are the sharp tip of the country's spear. Their motto says it all: Rangers lead the way. They did so on the beaches of Normandy in World War II and are doing so today in the mountains of Afghanistan.

What does that have to do with recruiting?
The tactics and strategies that Rangers use to accomplish their missions can be equally as effective in helping recruiters win the War for the Best Talent. Over the next several months, this column will be devoted to exploring those concepts and actions. My primer will be the U.S. Army Ranger Handbook, a pocket sized reference that every Ranger carries into combat.

Chapter I: The Warning Order

The warning order is a brief statement of the enemy and friendly situation. Its purpose is to alert the Ranger unit to impending combat.

While there are several parts to the warning order, the first and most important is a statement of the mission. It describes the end objective in detail. It tells the members of the unit exactly what they are striving to accomplish and why.

The mission statement is not some grandiose definition of victory. It does not detail the nation's goal in Afghanistan, for example. Instead, this unembellished declaration details the specific objective for a specific action. It assures Rangers that what they are doing is important because they have a clearly articulated and unambiguous result they are working to achieve. They may grumble about it - witness the Rangers in Saving Private Ryan - but to a person, they understand what must be done and why.

Recruiters need the same reassurance. They - like everyone else in the workforce - should know that there is a meaningful purpose to their daily activities. They deserve to have the information necessary to understand how their specific actions contribute to the organization's victory in the War for the Best Talent.

While we may assume that such insight is obvious, it should always be restated. How will each recruiter's daily work - whether it is attending a career fair, sourcing for a new clinical scientist or wading through the reams of unqualified applicants to find the best prospect for an opening - make any difference at all in the organization's success? Without such a clear appreciation for its purpose and consequences, their work becomes a humdrum series of meaningless tasks that amount to nothing more than putting a check mark in the Done box.

Now, in the best of recruiting units, this mission statement would be articulated by the leader. It is their job to ensure that everyone understands the goal and how their specific actions each day will (and must) contribute to its accomplishment.

However, as we all know - either from our own experience or from watching The Office - not all leaders measure up to such a standard. For that reason, recruiters, like Rangers, must lead the way. If their leaders let them down, they must make it their own personal responsibility to be clear about the mission and what they are doing to help accomplish it.