Meeting with a recruiter

The first time you meet with a recruiter can be nerve-wracking if you don’t know what to expect. But there is absolutely nothing to worry about. The recruiter is your guide to help you learn more about the military and begin the process of joining, if that’s what you decide to do.

My first meeting with a recruiter was in the Marines office. It seemed to me like the recruiter was doing everything he could to discourage me from joining the Marines. All my questions were deflected or talked around, to the point that I left feeling like I had not learned anything. I still don’t know what that was about. Maybe the guy wasn’t a very good recruiter. Or maybe I was just the only thing between him and his lunch break.

Regardless of the reason, some recruiters are going to be easier to work with than others. Here are a few tips I have picked up along the way from dealing with various recruiters:

Recruiting Tip #1: Schedule an appointment before you go in to a recruiting office. They do accept walk-ins, but if you want to get the best service, let the recruiter know you are coming beforehand. This way they can be prepared for your meeting both materially and mentally. And you won’t catch them on their way out to lunch. (Maybe that is a life tip, not just a recruiting one.)

Recruiting Tip #2: Remember that all recruiters are different. They are humans, after all, and each one has a different personality. I left my first meeting thinking, “If everyone in the Marines is like that, maybe I don’t want to join after all…” But when I moved across the state (not because of the recruiter, mind you. He wasn’t that bad) I met with a Marines recruiter in my new city, and he was awesome. He was professional, ready to give me information, and anxious to help in any way he could.

As I mentioned in another post, I soon learned that the Marines didn’t have a Reserve for women in my area, so I started looking into the Army. My Army recruiter was amazing. In the first meeting, he gave me pamphlets about some of the things I was interested in, walked me through them, and took the time to answer in detail all of my questions. And let me tell you, I had a lot of questions.

Recruiting Tip #3: Have a list of questions prepared every time you go in to see your recruiter. This way you will not draw a blank or get distracted once you are in there. I guarantee new questions will pop up throughout the entire process, so don’t be afraid to ask anything that’s on your mind. (Trust me, nobody on this planet knows less about the military than I did. My recruiter was always happy to explain when I stopped him to ask about an acronym or something.)

My first Army recruiter got moved, so I had to start meeting with another recruiter. He is a very laid-back, slow-going person and sometimes needs a lot of prodding to do things. On the other hand, I am a person who likes to get things done as quickly as possible, once I have made up my mind to do them. I like things to be organized and efficient. We could not be more different.

One of the biggest things I think I will learn in the military is how to work with all kinds of different people. The military is full of people with diverse backgrounds and personalities. It is a good opportunity to learn to work efficiently with people who have different styles than you. So consider this my first assignment, I guess.

Recruiting Tip #4: It is okay to take charge. Don’t be afraid to tell the recruiters exactly what you want, or don’t want. They are there to help you on your journey. Of course, I’m not saying to boss your recruiter around. Just don’t let yourself be bossed around! Be open and honest with your thoughts. My new recruiter was convinced everybody should go active duty, but I just had to be firm with him about my decision to be in the Reserve.
What to expect:

In your first couple meetings with a recruiter, he will want you to take a practice ASVAB test that is about 20 minutes. It is just to assess how much practice you need before the real thing (which is 3 hours long). He will also ask you a million screening questions like “Are you a terrorist” and “Do you hack computers”.

He will send you home with some paperwork, in which you will have to fill out information about every place you’ve lived and have references for each one. He will want your medical history, and eventually (once you are pretty committed) a background check. In a few short visits, your recruiter will know more about you than most of your friends ever will. (Everything from your true weight, to that time you went to the ER for menstrual cramps. 😳)
Pretty soon you will be ready to take the ASVAB test, and then the real fun begins! My biggest advice to you about the whole recruitment process is be your own recruiter! Don’t be passive about the process. Take charge of the situation, find out what you want, and move at the pace you want to. ‘Cause you’re a boss!


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