Potential Recruits Seek Information Online for Military Enlistment Decision-Making

by Douglas Yeung, Brian Gifford

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How do potential recruits decide to enlist in the military? What information do they seek on which to base career decisions? The Internet increasingly provides a medium for advertising and communication with recruiters and other potential recruits. The authors explored the influence of online communication on enlistment decision-making. Analysis of recent Army new recruit surveys showed that a sizable proportion of recruits have encountered Army advertising or sought recruiting information online. They also examined online discussion forums — in which soldiers and prospective soldiers ask questions, trade insights, and vent frustrations — for postings indicating information seeking for enlistment decision-making. Potential recruits were most interested in recruiting processes and what to expect from a military lifestyle, seeking opinions and details on job functions, duty stations, and benefits. These findings suggest that potential recruits may seek information online when unable or unwilling to find it from military websites or talking to recruiters.

This paper series made possible by the NIA funded RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the NICHD funded RAND Population Research Center.

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