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Dress for recruiting

Hi Guys

Just a quick message to get a straw poll of opinion.
Our command team was discussing the above recently and if it was a good or a bad idea to have soldiers on the streets recruiting dressed in desert kit. The opinions was fairly split. On one side Desert DPM is the new Temperate at least for the next 10 years- but should we be so obvious, on the other hand Iraq and Afghan is a ploitical hot popatoe and un popular camapign with the masses right now so shoudl we highlight the issue so publically?

What we all agreed on is that soldiers on the streets in Trade dress sells the diversity of life in the armed forces but the questionm is how far you go.

Would be interested in thought from the floor.

Recent trend at county shows and the like is for RRTs to be present in as many orders of dress as possible - purely to demonstrate the range of employments/roles and to prompt questions from Joe Public (such as don't you have enough CS 95 to equip a whole RRT...). The advntage there is that you're on, sort of, secure ground. Press gangs patrolling the streets in dessies can be a trifle fraught: there are more opportunities to bump into the less than totally enthused about our current foray into Mesopotamia.
When we have sent soldiers onto the street its usually with the Regimental caravan which leaves little scope for kit or window dressing.
I have tended to have soldiers in CS95, Des Dpm, Tropicals etc to show diversity. I would agree having all dressed in Des kit is OTT.
With a caravan too options in a town centre can be limited so we tend to vary the dress of the soldiers to enhance the stand and also as mentioned before by other posters to act as a hook to leading questions from the public which promote conversation. The rest then is down to the personality of the soldiers on the stand (all vetted for the right attitude and desired end result)
The real issue really is the des kit and whether its just too in your face or honest - lets face it most who join todays armed forces will end up in Iraq or Afghan in the next 10 years. But should we be pushing this obviuos in house fact at such an early point? The jury seems split accordingly

We have found that by dressing in deserts has helped slightly with our recruiting, mainly through the fact that they are curious to see wether we have been to Iraq and Afghanistan (which we have). But dont you all tell them that there is a very good chance they will be deployed on Ops anyway? We are instructed to tell them at the opening brief on our recruit selection weekends.
Unit recruiting tops always look the biz and gets away from the "oh the army recruiting stands there again" and i'ds one your TA and your respective capbadge might sound stupid but the average joe doesn't know the difference all they see is a soldier. its also a more corporate image which seems to work for the regs.

As for dessies i think they should be worn, however a bit of planning to make sure the local student and anti war scumbags aren't around in vast numbers.
Have seen the Lancers and WFR round our way recently both groups wearing regimental sweatshirts with C95 trousers and the only people to approach them were old fellas wanting to talk about their time in.
To be honest I think the Desert warry look will go down a treat because lets be honest what does the average young lad want to do, go fight look rambo like.
All I was doing was going to the shop to buy a loaf when in my path was some guys lookin the buisness so ended up joining up.
The wearing of desert combats for recruiting is likely to provoke a response from members of the public who are not potential recruits. To this end all recruiters taking part in a display with personnel in desert combats should be briefed and rehearsed in how to deal with potential negative reactions.

On the other hand true potential recruits are likely to be attracted by dessies and interested in hearing of the experiences of those who have worn them on ops. Don't wear them if you haven't been anywhere sandy - smacks of waltism.

Before deploying on recruiting in desert combats confirm that there is no local instruction prohibiting it. Check with your unit security officer if you feel there may be an issue. Try it out, if the results are worthwhile continue with it. If the problems outweigh the benefits, stop it. But be prepared to walk away from any unpleasant situation; while it may be galling that some people do not wish to see our own military on our streets, it is impossible to recruit in such situations. This of course applies whether in dessies, temperates or any other form of dress.
hey guys when i first read this thread i thought it was someone who are going to a recruitment office, so i would like to flip the question over for a sec and ask does it matter what you wear when you first walk into the recruitment office or going to see your local TA unit ?
eul0gy said:
hey guys when i first read this thread i thought it was someone who are going to a recruitment office, so i would like to flip the question over for a sec and ask does it matter what you wear when you first walk into the recruitment office or going to see your local TA unit ?
No, anything from lounge suit to chav wear is acceptable; its the person we want to recruit, not their dress sense. But avoid wearing any uniform unless you have just walked round from the ACF hut or you will be suspected of waltism.

What is a walt?


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IMHO having members of the RRT in various forms of dress is good and does show up the diversity. But whatever dress the team are in, make sure that one person is in No2 or better still No 1 dress complete with medals (pick the guy with the most). A row of shiny tin on someone's chest is a huge draw at recruitment stands.

Make sure the bemedalled one is genuine and not dressed for the part 'cos he/she will be found out very quickly!
I'll let you all into a little secret. If you are recruiting for the TA, you are trying to recruit people whi have already made the decision at 16/17/18 etc not to join the army, but who have instead decided to get a 'proper job', a mortgage, a family etc.

So if you go out looking like the regular army, that's what they think you are, and they won't bother even looking at you.

If you are basically in uniform and have the usual black box press gang wagon, watch how hard people will try to avoid you. I have watched from a distance at a county show, the crowd moving down the 'street' of stalls, and nearly all (with the exception of ex-army dads with 5yr old boys) actively move away from the recruiting stand.

So if you really want to recruit, think about this - the first thing you need to tell joe public is that you are the same as him - you have a proper job, a house with a mortgage, and you work 9-5 as a brain surgeon, bouncer, builder, brickie, burglar, barrister - and this is what you do for fun.

How the hell do you do that? A number of answers, but first you have to understand how important the point is. read the last paragraph until you are bored, then you will start to get the point. Next, understand that joe public has no idea what the TA is. Ask your mates at work what you do in the TA - they all know you disappear at weekends, but what else - they will probably stop thinking about it at that point. How many of them have any idea what the TA is (and these are people who know you, let alone JP himself) and how many of them know that they could have joined the TA - I bet none of them ever thought they could - as they thought it was basically a crap bit of the regular army - like if you go for a shelf stacker job at tescos and they only give you a part time job - that's what they think the TA is compared to the reg army.

So your recruiting message has to be really clever.

We use as many different coloured rugby shirts as people can get their hands on and on the back in big letters, we have our jobs - ie SOLICITOR - and sure enough, a solicitor will say - the army doesn't have solicitors - whats all this aboutr. Answer - I'm not in the army! Yes you are, you are in green kit (waist down)... No, I'm a solicitor, and at the weekends, i do a bit of army.

In other words, I am the same as you.

Now - the clever bit - AND YOU CAN BE THE SAME AS ME - they have worked out for themselves that something they had cast off as an idea years ago is actually very much within their reach while still doing their normal civvy job.....and now you start recruiting.

Ditch the recruiting trailer. Get a smart blow-up tent from your RFCA - cost £3k ish - and fill it with really good dvds or playstation games to attract the youngsters, and for their adults, have mug shots of all your TA guys'n'gals in their civvy kit at their civvy jobs, with only a tiny bit at the bottom saying 'chef, loamshire rifles'.

So get the message:

- joe public doesnt want to join the army (and he doesn't know what the TA is).
- you have to be the same as him, not the same as the army, to attract him.
- when you have convinced him that you are the same, now you can recruit him.

and finally, girls - no essex facelift hairstyles - it doesn't attract the girls or the guys - so hair shoulder length - wair it loose, longer than that, just a pony tail, and have a card from your CO in your pocket for the moment when a regular bore accosts you about standards, pull out the card and say 'ring this number and ask my CO to explain his policy...sir'.

Trust me - this stuff works - and you already know that looking like the regular army doesn't work.

Septimus, you are absolutely bang on.

Other posters get confused about being as 'Army' as they can and its a mistake that we are all pushed down by the regular army recruiting element but as you said, they miss the point of who the TA is trying to recruit.

Oh, and I like the idea about the card with COs number on for Col idiot to ring as he complains that we aren't presenting a 'One Army Recruiting' concept when we're out and about.

Difficult to tell from your thought provoking post above whether or not you sit with the OAR camp or outside it. I am guessing, but it would seem that OAR is not for you as evidently you believe that if you mix the Regular and TA message you will fail to attract the right material into the TA.

Or am I wrong? Before commenting further I would be interested in your thoughts on the OAR Project.
like lots of good ideas, OAR is reasonably well thought out at the top and delivered by imbeciles who have not read the 'think' bit.

it is delivered by lower grade regulars who have interpreted it as - the TA will do the same as us.

It's a pity. I know that, higher up, they understand the TA bit quite well - not very well, but quite well. Downstream, we get told to liaise with our county recruiting officer and the ACIO - NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! we are different animals doing different things with different people.

Unfortunately, the pitch for OAR is delivered with 'business hints' (and the army always gets these so badly wrong) like - "one brand because CocaCola only has one brand" - NO IT BLOODY DOESN'T - it has lots and for good reason.

What OAR should deliver is, amongst others, an understanding to the general public - and that is what we need the most - that the TA and Reg Army are very similar, but also very different - and under that raising of background awareness, we can then sell our message locally without having to explain, constantly, what the TA is.

I understand the top level intent. I don't think it is quite right and there is an element of 'bloody well get on with it', but it is workable. I despair at the mediocrity of the bottom end delivery. In civvy street, if the MD knew how the product was being delivered and that the customers were not happy, there would be sackings....but it just rumbles on complete with ineptitude while the poor old TA either take it as it comes and recruit just as badly as ever, or the more active units comply where they have to and try to do the right thing where it really matters.

My bottom line - if we were any good at this recruiting thing, every TA unit in the country could find enough recruits from its nearest housing estate to fill its books and would not have to go any further afield. Do it properly and actually REACH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE and it will happen - it really will. Most of the public don't even know we exist and don't know they could join and even next to a TA centre, don't even know we are there.

That's the problem, not Iraq, Afghanistan, drill, discipline etc.
perhaps to put my answer to the OAR thing another way, if OAR has reached the regular recruiting teams, and I see absolutely no change in the way they go about business, then I have to say the TA must go about its business with great care.

we put a huge effort into ensuring that we look as different from a regular recruiter as possible - no recruiting trailer, no wall of green in front of it effectively saying 'we don't want to talk to you', no bored looking young soldiers yawning in full view - or worse, sleeping in the trailer!

I would like OAR to embrace what we do - and of course OAR is much more than just the recruiting presence - it's the whole project.

Now thart it has run for a while, I would like the head sheds to have a really good look atthe coal face and see if it has made any difference anywhere.

My guess is that the'd find exactly the same old thing happening everywhere, but with a different paper trail behind the scenes.

If you want to sort recruiting out and you want quick fixes as well,
- sort out APC Glasgow (that will keep many more of those we have already recruited and are losing whilc in the system) for the quick fix.
- concentrate on raising the public awareness of the similarities and differences between Reg and TA.
- accept that TA are looking for different people in different circumstances.
-populate the programme with clever people - if it's that important to CGS, why populate with career flatliners (like me).

It is just so frustrating - it's so easy to get right and yet the view from the bottom is that there's a bright spark sat at the top of the hill but between him and us its all fog - thick, dense and wet.
OAR is reasonably well thought out at the top and delivered by imbeciles who have not read the 'think' bit.
it is delivered by lower grade regulars....
Hmmm. I'll ignore that as 'friendly' banter. Although you're in danger of obscuring a valid message with some fairly crass comments.

To a point I would agree with the branding thing. You'll be aware that the great and good are working as we speak to bring the regular and TA offer together under one banner and the TA will, on the face of it, lose out.

There is no doubt, I think, that OAR has much to do with expediency - it's cheaper and should swallow up less resources. However, I do very much agree that the regular and TA animal is a very different beast. The offer to each should be firmly differentiated; in marketing parlance the offer should be to a segmented, but similar market. But perhaps the thinking thing should be more carefully thought out - we are dealing with One Army - that One Army now has an almost identical role. Manager at Waitrose one day, closing with and destroying the enemy in Helmland the next - you'll know it's as real as that. In order to make the TA more usable there have had to be several sacrifices and you could argue that the unique identity of the TA has been one of the main ones.

The TA is now a fighting force. I worked with the TA in the 80s and the TA of today are now a world away from the Battalion I was with then; chalk and cheese. Perhaps we're no longer looking for the TA soldier of those days - what we're now looking for is an individual who is still all those things you describe, but he is also, in every sense of the word, a part time soldier - who will almost certainly have a full time role at some stage.

So, to return to your key point, recruiting. The regular recruiting machine does a pretty good job. They are professionals and most will return to a front line unit some time after their tour. They have seen the movie and got the badge - and they know what's required. I would argue that save a few dedicated and very hard working people, for the most part, the TA recruiting machine is weak. They need guidance and they need to be shown what is what - they in turn need to provide the TA 'moderation' to the over enthusiastic regular who will probably not understand the differences, subtleties and nuances of TA service.

It's still a two way thing, but I would argue it has become very much a One Army operation.
TA Recruiting has suffered from many things including lack of funds, loss of idetity, purpose (hence CCRF) and no trained recruiters or course.
Fix these and the future is brighter.
I was the recruiting WO for my unit and the best guidance I got was from my civilian experience in marketing. For years I cried out for a TA recruiters course that never came. I recruited up to 45 soldiers a year at company level.
I understand this is now fixed and there is a TA recriters course at last. Most TA units assign a SNCO to recruiting who has little experienec and we then demand and expect so much of them (yet in almost all other jobs they recieve training before taking up such a high profile role).
OAR has its merits for the top brass - its cheaper and consumes less resorses (important with the current regular army under manning - and it is for sure)
However often I have met regular recruiters who know or nor want to know little about their local TA units and certainly have never visited them.
We have assigned a SNCO who is motivated and knows what he is doing, has been given clear guidance and is also tasked with making regular contact with the local AFCO's by phone, visits and at events.

Septimus - I like your style and originality and infact I passed on your posts to said SNCO above. Not sure we need to go to the furthest extreme but I think a happy medium can be found. When on the street we are selling a product and we do need a hook to use more traditional terms. Thats is why I have soldiers out in Desert Combats as it promotes conversation with young and old alike. However I like the civie top idea at a show once I actually had guys attend in their civilian occupation clothing which raised a few eyebrows from the regular recruiters (only works if you have some good examples like City Lawyer, Milkman, dustman etc)

Right now yes the TA is going through a process of professionalisation - there are differences between TA and Regular but they are becoming less and less. Retention is as important as recruiting in all units as satsfied soldiers will sell the service to their mates as well. I also sometimes dispair at the ineptitude of some within the system but with persiverance most problems can be rectified.

Its a case of trying different things making your mark, sewing the seeds and its a war of attrition that can never end (bit like the war on terrorism he says tongue in cheek)

Just my two pence worth

Storeman Norman said:
septimus said:
OAR is reasonably well thought out at the top and delivered by imbeciles who have not read the 'think' bit.
it is delivered by lower grade regulars....

So, to return to your key point, recruiting. The regular recruiting machine does a pretty good job. They are professionals and most will return to a front line unit some time after their tour. They have seen the movie and got the badge - and they know what's required. I would argue that save a few dedicated and very hard working people, for the most part, the TA recruiting machine is weak. They need guidance and they need to be shown what is what - they in turn need to provide the TA 'moderation' to the over enthusiastic regular who will probably not understand the differences, subtleties and nuances of TA service.
I'm trying not to bite too hard, but...

I understand that Regtimental recruiting teams are generally going to return to 'a front line unit' and so are AYTs, but it is the permament recruiting infrastructure that is the weak part. ACIOs not open on a saturday, if they are, only one old and knackered SSgt manning it who knows nothing about the TA. I'm sure they have done valuable service in every role so far but have now been posted to a home posting for their final 2 years. Possibly not the best man for the job.

Having been at ACIOs on saturdays and asked regular recruiters about how they sell the TA - and afterall they are very keen to say they have done the One Army Recruiting course, inveriably they are so wide of the mark its almost unbelivable. On my last occasion, 6 potential recruits came in wanting to join the Regular Army, and not one could join straight away for a number of reasons, not once was the TA pushed as an alternative (sort of army lite or intro to the army). That was even with a TA soldier standing there watching. Obviously each were stopped before they got to the door and enlightened. Now if that is happening with the TA present, I hate to think about all those potential recruits walking out the door in all the ACIOs across the country. Or perhaps that one was just a bad one and off message.

Are the TA bad at recruiting? Possibly not as good as they could be (we have all seen stands with the fat 50year old storeman on) but ultimately all TA units have been recruited by the TA themselves (OAR has only just come in so the regulars can't claim it's all them) but all TA sub unit commanders know that their units manning directly reflects on them. This is obviously an incentive, whereas the ACIOs have no TA quota to fill and therefore put very little effort into filling any TA posts.

Bitter, no, annoyed, everytime yes.

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