Army using social media, competitive gaming to reach Gen. Z recruits

Recruiters hope to make up for missing 2018 goal

WEBXTRA: Army amps up efforts to recruit Gen Z

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Army is trying new tactics to boost recruiting numbers. The branch fell short of its recruitment goal by about 6,500 recruits, bringing in 70,000 new active duty soldiers at the end of their 2018 fiscal year. Recruiters have been using new strategies to recruit Generation Z.

“We need enough people to fill different slots throughout the Army, different positions,” said Sergeant First Class Jacob Sutherland of Lufkin. ”We do deploy to different war zones. Sometimes, we’re sending units to go deploy that aren’t a hundred percent.”

While combat roles aren’t the only ones that need to be filled, Army recruiters are using different tactics to bounce back after the branch fell short of its 2018 goal. One tactic includes reaching members of Generation Z with competitive gaming.

“The Army this year has started what they call an e-sports team," Sutherland said. "You’re competing against other youth, I guess you could say, but at the same time, you’re gonna also, once you’re done playing, you’re gonna talk to these kids and, you know, kind of inform them about the Army has to offer.”

They’re also utilizing other digital resources.

“Each battalion now has a virtual recruiting team that they use to help, you know, get information out to the population through social media, through online job portals, and websites,” Sutherland said.

They’re also getting boots on the ground, sending recruiters to where potential recruits are.

“We’ll go out to different high schools or colleges, and we give presentations to the kids," Sutherland said. "It’s basically just to educate them on what the Army has to offer as far as career options.”

“They come during lunch," said Huntington High School Shane Stover. "They’re here, I would say once every two weeks at least, somebody’s here recruiting kids, building relationships with those kids.”

They’re building interest in possible careers that they might have in the Army.

“I’ve really been interested in criminal justice," said senior Ashton Shearer. "Just having that military background will greatly help out your career.”

“I got the job information about technology specialist" recruit Nicholas Ingle said. "Stuff like software development is fantastic for civilian careers.”

With these recruiting strategies in place, Sutherland said the Army will make it’s recruiting goal for 2019.

This is the first time since 2005 that the Army has missed its recruiting goal. Army Secretary Mark Esper said the Army is moving recruiters into 20 more cities and upgrading their storefront stations to bring in recruits.

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