Switch to full-time recruiters ‘a step forward’ for Canadian Army Reserve

Article / January 14, 2016 / Project number: 15-0130

Ottawa, Ontario — Soldiers involved in recruiting for the Canadian Army Reserve say the recent creation of full-time Reserve recruiter positions is having a positive effect on recruitment numbers.

Between 1993 and 2013, responsibility for Army Reserve force recruiting was split between the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group, which oversaw the processing of applicants, while the Reserves dealt with attraction and enrollment. Reserve units themselves did not have full-time representatives in the process. Those that were involved balanced recruiting and other duties while working out of their respective unit headquarters rather than in recruiting centres.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Pedley, whose areas of responsibility include recruiting development, said the Army is working to identify the factors adversely affecting recruitment and retention. “The Army Reserve overall has been in a decline in strength the last number of years,” he said. “So addressing the attraction of recruits by allocating some full-time recruiters was seen as one of the means to actually generate more interest in the Army Reserve and to bring more recruits through the door.

Reserve members are recruited locally and typically stay within their community, enjoy competitive pay and benefits for working flexible, part-time hours and can receive reimbursement for some post-secondary educational programs. Reservists can also choose from dozens of specialty areas including administrative work, combat arms, medical technician, or communications and gain experience that is transferable to the private sector. The opportunity exists for employment on operations within Canada, North America, and overseas on a voluntary basis with pay and benefits. 

There are now about 100 full-time recruiters at Reserve units involved in the process. In total, 117 such positions – one per Reserve unit – have been created.

It’ll take time for each of the brigades and the divisions to figure out the optimum use of those individuals and their new skills,” LCol Pedley said. “And then perhaps we can add more or we can utilize some of the positions that aren’t required and dedicate them to some other function within that recruiting process.

The recruiters are chosen in a selection process and then undergo a specific training regimen. Their job begins with applicant interviews. While specialized career counsellors enter the picture later in the process, the recruiters can offer some help in directing applicants to one of dozens of available specializations.

Lieutenant Chad Millar, who oversees a team of full-time Reserve recruiters in a recruitment centre at 66 Slater Street in downtown Ottawa, said he’s already seeing an upward trend in the numbers.

We’ve really taken a step forward in ensuring our Reserve recruiters are on the same page as the recruiting centre staff that supports us; we’re all on one team. And this year I can say that we’re doing better than last year and last year we did better than the year before. It’s not perfect but that’s why it’s a work in progress.

Lt Millar added that full-time recruiters are now not only the first point of contact for applicants but are also better able to follow their progress as the process unfolds. This, he explained, improves the experience for both parties.

The process revolves around so many minor details that are all of major importance. That’s why the process is so in-depth at every step of the way. So, maintaining that face-to-face relationship ensures that they can keep on the same page as the applicant throughout. They can get information when they require it; they can keep the applicant apprised of their progress. And that just facilitates a better environment for everyone involved.

According to Lt Millar, “the recruiter is the initial gatekeeper, you could say. There are two types of interviews: If the person already knows what they want to do, then you’re going to counsel them to see if that is suitable for them. The other one is when an applicant wants to join, but doesn’t know what they want to do. So it’s like a guidance interview. Then it’s about finding out what they’re interested in and what work they expect to be doing, what they already are skilled at or what we think will engage them the most.

Sergeant Yasir Godatalla, a recruiter with 30 Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery in Ottawa, said the process is also faster than before.

We make sure everything’s correct, all the information is properly inputted into the forms. What we used to do is drop it off here at the recruiting centre and then it went to processing. With us being here, we’re able to process everything ourselves, track it, and pretty much speed up the process.

Sergeant Nathan Smith, who recruits for the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, agreed that full-time recruiting has made things more efficient.

One of the advantages of working at the recruiting centres,” said Sgt Smith, “is that I have access to be able to see where my applicants are. Now I can just look it up and it makes it easier. When an applicant contacts me and asks for information I can just quickly update them and give them a decent answer.

Brigadier-General Rob Roy MacKenzie, appointed Director General Army Reserve in the summer of 2015, recently visited the Slater Street recruitment centre.

Recruiting is a vital part of ensuring the Army is always ready to fulfill its role,” said BGen MacKenzie. “I think the reserve unit recruiters as part of the team here – along with our people in all of our recruiting centres – are doing a good job of ensuring we strive to meet our preferred manning levels for both Regular Force and Reserve units.

"Recruiting is a vital part of ensuring the Army is always ready to fulfill its role. I think the reserve unit recruiters as part of the team here – along with our people in all of our recruiting centres – are doing a good job of ensuring we strive to meet our preferred manning levels for both Regular Force and Reserve units."

Brigadier-General Rob Roy MacKenzie, Director General Army Reserve

All three Ottawa recruiters said they’re gratified by the work.

It’s great talking to new people, talking to Canadians who don’t necessarily know that much about their military. I enjoy being able to help educate them and guide them through this process,” said Sgt Smith.

It’s definitely rewarding being at the front line of bringing people into the organization we work for. And we like what we do,” Lt Millar added. “Having full-time Reserve recruiters is absolutely critical. It allows us to ensure that the Army Reserve, whose ultimate goal is to augment the Regular Force at operational times, is meeting its recruiting interests.” 

While there’s been improvement in urban centres like Ottawa, LCol Pedley said more remote parts of the country still present a challenge. Full-time recruiters may be called upon to take on further responsibilities to increase the numbers in those areas.

For more information, please visit www.army-armee.forces.gc.ca/en/jobs-careers/index.page

By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

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