Improving the Department of the Army's Marketing for Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention of Civilians in Critical Occupations

by Bruce R. Orvis, M. Wade Markel, John Engberg


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Research Questions

  1. What job characteristics do current and potential Army civilian employees feel are most important, and what sources of information do current and prospective Army civilian employees use when searching for employment opportunities?
  2. How is Army civilian employment perceived by current and potential Army civilian employees?
  3. How does compensation provided by Army civilian positions compare with similar positions in the private, nonprofit, and state and local government sectors?
  4. What are the Army's likely hiring needs over the next decade?
  5. What steps can the Army take to build a strong Army Civilian brand?

This report presents the results of analyses intended to build a strong Army Civilian brand—that is, to help the Army assess and strengthen its ability to attract high-quality applicants to its civilian workforce and to retain high-quality Army civilian employees.

To help the Army develop an Army Civilian brand and a marketing strategy for it, the authors fielded surveys and conducted analyses to (1) increase the Army's understanding of the job preferences and job search activities of individuals in the external market (job-seekers) and in the internal market (Army civilian employees), (2) assess potential employees' awareness of Army civilian job opportunities and their perceptions of and concerns about Army civilian jobs, (3) compare compensation in Army jobs with that in similar private-sector positions, (4) identify the Army's potential hiring needs over the next decade, and (5) recommend marketing strategies.

Key Findings

  • Potential Army civilian employees reported the following job characteristics as being important to them: attractive salary levels, good work-life balance, generous benefits, strong job security, a generous retirement plan, and opportunities to use their talents and abilities.
  • Most prospective Army civilian employees were unaware that civilian jobs with the Army even exist, and many held misconceptions about Army civilian employment.
  • Potential applicants most likely to consider a job as an Army civilian were those with a positive view of the Army.
  • Army civilian employees with whom we spoke identified positive aspects of being an Army civilian employee: career and geographic mobility, a wide and diverse range of potential careers, job security and stability, good benefits, good work-life balance, and a chance to serve soldiers and the nation.
  • Potential applicants indicated that they use the following information sources when job-seeking (listed in preferred order): referral, online website, potential employer, professional networking, Google, profession-specific, agency, job fair, professional organization, alumni network, and government.
  • Army civilian salaries are often lower than in comparable private-sector, nonprofit, and state and local government positions, but total compensation is often higher in the Army.
  • For the most part, the Army should be able to continue hiring at the same levels it did between fiscal years 2015 and 2018. Additional attention may be warranted with respect to specific occupations for which a significant increase in requirements can be anticipated. The Army can meet most of its needs by hiring at entry level.


  • Raise awareness of Army civilian job opportunities.
  • Align the Army Civilian brand with the Army brand.
  • Prepare recruiting and hiring officials to allay potential applicants' misperceptions about Army civilian employment, such as about involuntary deployment and exposure to combat.
  • Strengthen the Army Civilian brand's appeal by emphasizing the following themes: career and geographic mobility, a wide, diverse range of potential careers, job security and stability, good benefits, good work-life balance, and a chance to serve soldiers and the nation.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Background and Selection of Study Occupations

  • Chapter Three

    External Market Project

  • Chapter Four

    Incumbents' Perspective on the Army Civilian Brand's Image

  • Chapter Five

    Salary and Benefit Comparison with the Private Sector, Nonprofits, and State and Local Governments

  • Chapter Six

    Analysis of Prospective Hiring Needs

  • Chapter Seven

    Exploring Army Online Marketing to Civilian Job-Seekers

  • Chapter Eight


  • Appendix A

    Survey Questionnaire for Qualitative Analysis

  • Appendix B

    Survey Used in Quantitative Analysis

  • Appendix C

    Supplemental Data and Analysis Results

  • Appendix D

    Addressing Potential Applicants' Concerns About Army Civilian Employment

  • Appendix E

    Estimating Salary and Compensation Profiles

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the Personnel, Training, and Health Program within RAND Arroyo Center.

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