If you’ve got an idea on how to improve recruiting, the Coast Guard wants to hear it.
The Recruiting Innovation Challenge kicked off at CG_Ideas@Work on Aug. 26 and has drummed up more than 20 responses to date. The campaign runs through the end of November, and members are encouraged to submit their thoughts on how to boost the appeal of the service and bolster recruiting efforts to attract more candidates here.
The challenge comes from the same Coast Guard Recruiting Incident Management Team (CG Recruiting IMT) that introduced a $500 bounty for successfully referring a friend to the service in June. As with other military branches, a tight labor market and the decline in the propensity to serve among young people has left the Coast Guard facing recruiting shortfalls that endanger mission readiness. In July, Adm. Linda Fagan told a Congressional committee that the service expected to miss its target of 4,200 enlisted personnel by 1,100 recruits.
Cmdr. Lisa Garcez, the Recruiting IMT’s Operation Section Chief, who is on temporary duty from her day job as electronics repair branch chief in the C5I Service Center, said the IMT saw the challenge as a good way generate interest. “We want to ask people in the Coast Guard who know the strengths of the service, what do you think we can do to increase leads and get people to [join],” she said.
Already, members have suggested a variety of approaches, from tweaking eligibility standards and emphasizing citizenship for service to foreign nationals to using sexier advertising or setting up a civilian apprenticeship program to ease interested recruits into the enterprise.
More than one submission encouraged better targeting by recruiters. This includes having more recruiters available in areas where recruits tend to live. Another suggestion was leveraging connections with high schools, groups like the Naval Sea Cadets, Maritime Academies and Trade Schools and shipyards where people have already shown a strong interest in marine activities.
Others strongly urged the service to update recruiting videos or even create a 3D movie about the Coast Guard. “Make a commercial that shows people what they want to see: The Coast Guard being badass,” said one poster. “Show them flying into hurricanes, jumping on top of semi-submersibles yelling...the running lights of a cutter charging toward the dying light of a flare, ice breaking underfoot as we clear shipping lanes.”
A couple of ideas focused on surveys and using data to find the best recruits and learn why some recruits fail to enlist. It was also suggested that the Coast Guard updating grooming standards. “Young men who look at us are seeing a large crowd of homogenized haircuts and 1980s mustaches,” said one commenter. “I don’t know how long we can keep selling that to them.”
Garcez says members of the IMT will respond to all submissions, and ask clarifying questions where necessary. Once the challenge ends, all the ideas will be put up on the board and the IMT’s 25 members will divide into groups to look at how to implement, test, and deploy the most promising ideas.
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