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Reserve Command seeks to recruit recruiters

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Craig Ridener, 434th Air Refueling Wing recruiter, talks with U.S. Army National Guard Pvt. 1st Class Mitchell Wooten, about opportunities in the Air Force Reserve at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., Jan. 15, 2014. The Air Force Reserve Command is now actively seeking Airmen who want to serve as full-time recruiters on active-guard and reserve tours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Craig Ridener, 434th Air Refueling Wing recruiter, talks with U.S. Army National Guard Pvt. 1st Class Mitchell Wooten, about opportunities in the Air Force Reserve at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., Jan. 15, 2014. The Air Force Reserve Command is now actively seeking Airmen who want to serve as full-time recruiters on active-guard and reserve tours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

U.S. Army National Guard Pvt. 1st Class Mitchell Wooten talks with U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Craig Ridener, 434th Air Refueling Wing recruiter, as he inquires about opportunities in the Air Force Reserve at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., Jan. 15, 2014. The Air Force Reserve Command is now actively seeking Airmen who want to serve as full-time recruiters on active-guard and reserve tours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

U.S. Army National Guard Pvt. 1st Class Mitchell Wooten talks with U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Craig Ridener, 434th Air Refueling Wing recruiter, as he inquires about opportunities in the Air Force Reserve at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., Jan. 15, 2014. The Air Force Reserve Command is now actively seeking Airmen who want to serve as full-time recruiters on active-guard and reserve tours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Tasked with filling the ranks, recruiters are at the start of all Airmen's careers, and now they're looking to pull from those ranks to fill their own.

The Air Force Reserve Command is now actively seeking Airmen who want to serve as full-time recruiters on active-guard and reserve tours, said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Mielke, 434th Air Refueling Wing recruiting flight chief.

"Recruit the Recruiter is a program within AFRC where we're looking for good Airmen from within the wings who want to fulfill this unique role," Mielke explained. "We're trying to get as many people as we can because we have training opportunities coming up."

The recruiters are looking to hire highly motivated staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeants.

"As a master sergeant, you can keep your rank," said Mielke. "You used to have to take it off, but now you can come right onto an AGR tour as an E-7, providing you meet all the criteria."

Recruiters have the unique role of attracting and convincing prospective individuals to join the Air Force Reserve, and as such, are often the first impression many civilians have with the military.

And, with that higher level of responsibility comes a higher level of job satisfaction.

"The career definitely has its rewards," said Tech. Sgt. Craig Ridener, 434th ARW recruiter. "It's been really awesome having the opportunity to go out and meet new people, tell them about the experiences I've had and help point them in the right direction."

"I've had four Air Force specialty codes and this by far is the most rewarding job for me because you get that feel-good feeling when you have young men and women that go to basic training and come back from tech school and tell you 'thank you' for what you've done for them and their families," agreed Mielke. "You'd be hard-pressed to beat that."

"If you want something different, if you want a challenge with a higher standard, recruiting is the way to go," Ridener added. "Recruiters have to be motivated, dedicated and willing to do what needs to be done with integrity."

While the rewards may be many, so can be the challenges of a job that is often autonomous and requires a lot of flexibility.

"Recruiting is very demanding; you can put in between 8 hours to 14 hours a day and not even realize it, so you've got to make sure you make time for your family to have a good balance," explained Ridener. "If you're married, your spouse has to be onboard 100 percent because there are going to be nights where you will be home late."

"It's not a traditional 9 to 5 job," added Mielke. "A lot of recruiters work weekends because that's when a lot of people that we need to talk to are out of school or off work."

Because of the unique challenges faced by these gatekeepers to the Air Force, the recruitment process of future recruiters is multi-phased.

"You fill out an application here, it gets submitted to our headquarters, and they will select applicants for an evaluation selection course where the Airman will go to Robins Air Force Base, Ga., for a week to figure out if this is something they're really interested in," Mielke explained. "They'll get a lot of in-depth details about what recruiting is, and they'll find out if it's something they really want to do"

After completing an ESC, applicants can choose to continue on to recruiting technical training school at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. During the 6-week training, future recruiters are trained on public speaking, recruiting processes and selling techniques.

While some may think recruiters are natural extroverts, especially in dealing with the public, Mielke cautioned potential applicants not to let their preconceived notions about the career field or themselves prevent them from investigating a career in recruiting.

"We have all kind of needs in recruiting, and just because somebody is shy doesn't mean they won't be able to get the job done; that's part of what the evaluation and selection course is for," he said. "If somebody is willing to try and overcome some of those fears, we call those blind spots in recruiting, then, we'll help them with that."

While natural extroversion is not a requirement, the willingness to relocate is.

"If they come in here and tell me they only want to serve here at Grissom, chances are they're not going to be picked up," said Mielke. "They have to be willing to go anywhere the Air Force needs them."

And, where the Air Force needs recruiters may not be an Air Force base at all.

"If you're at a satellite office, which means the line recruiter is about an hour to three hours away from their actual boss, you have to make sure you have integrity and are doing the right things," said Ridener.

With that extra responsibility also comes flexibility.

"Out on your own, you can do what works best for you," added Ridener.

As AGRs, recruiters receive all regular Air Force pay and benefits and can retire with an active-duty retirement.

While the perks of the job, pay and benefits might be a bonus for some, Ridener reiterated the best part of the job is helping people.

"Sure, active-duty pay and retirement is awesome, but so is helping others," he added. "So, if you're that person who wants to help people and you're a good salesperson, recruiting may be for you."

Mielke also noted that Federal civil servants, including ARTs, could take a job in recruiting for a single tour and return to their previous jobs under current regulations.

"If you're a full-time civil servant who's also a traditional reservist, or if you're an ART, you can come into our program for three years and still go back to your civil service job because it's activation," he explained.

Airmen interested in an Air Force Reserve recruiting career should contact their local recruiting flight chief.