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Research Questions

  1. What is the state of recruiting processes in each of the Air Force's recruiting sources?
  2. What lessons emerged from the New England Recruiting Test?
  3. What promising recruiting practices are being used in selected private sector organizations?
  4. According to these findings, what steps should the Air Force pursue to make its recruiting efforts more comprehensive and integrated across the Total Force?

The Air Force faces challenges with recruiting. Externally, the number of individuals who are both interested in and eligible for military service is declining. Internally, those who conduct Air Force recruiting activities have for decades been stovepiped by organizational lines, separate recruiting and marketing activities, and incompatible information systems.

To help the Air Force achieve a modern, comprehensive, and integrated recruiting system, the authors evaluated the first phase of an Air Force recruiting pilot test, compared the ways Air Force organizations conduct their recruiting operations, and identified current recruiting practices in the private sector that could provide lessons for Air Force recruiting. The authors also addressed barriers to integration and how they can be overcome.

The authors found that the organizational structure for Air Force recruiting was not well suited to integration and recommend that the Air Force consider establishing an organizational structure with a single point of authority that is responsible for all recruiting across the Total Air Force and that operates between the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the recruiting sources.

Key Findings

Air Force recruiting is marked by separation and a lack of coordination among the recruiting entities

  • The organizational structure, which provides no shared leadership for recruiting other than the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, is ill-suited to integration.
  • There are some similarities among the stovepiped recruiting entities that recruit uniformed personnel, suggesting opportunities for integration.
  • The marketing activities for recruiting are mostly separate, with separate marketing vendors and very limited sharing or coordination.
  • The marketing outreach through Air Force websites reflects the separation and lack of coordination among the various Air Force recruiting entities.
  • The New England Recruiting Test provided important experiences and insights related to collaboration and information-sharing to inform the move toward Total Force recruiting.

Recommendations

  • Consider establishing an organizational structure with a single point of authority that is responsible for all recruiting across the Total Air Force and that operates between the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the recruiting sources.
  • Move forward with integration of selected marketing activities, such as a unified call center, for which recruiting stakeholders expressed support.
  • Reduce the sense of competition among the Air Force recruiting sources by developing recommended practices for channeling leads that best serve the interest of the Air Force. Further, consider establishing a system whereby recruiters get credit not only for the recruits they sign for their part of the Air Force but also for the passing of a lead that results in an accession elsewhere in the Air Force.
  • Without requiring a single marketing contract (which the authors do not recommend), establish a more-unified web presence for recruiting.
  • Continue to pilot recruiting processes that integrate recruiting across the Total Air Force and foster collaboration among the various recruiting sources, applying lessons from prior phases of the New England Recruiting Test to improve the outcomes of the pilot testing each time.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was commissioned by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Force Management Integration and conducted within the Workforce, Development, and Health Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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