SAN ANTONIO, Texas --
Recruiting in any environment can be challenging. That is especially true if the applicant must meet the highest standards set by the Marine Corps, those of the Marine Corps officer.
Officer selection officers, or OSOs, work in a different environment than their enlisted recruiting counterparts. Their mission requirement is smaller, but it presents a unique challenge due to the educational requirements of their potential applicants. They work in much smaller teams and the success or failure of their mission often rests on the shoulders of the Marine who is out on the college campus talking to students. There are 74 OSOs across the United States and out of the 1,703 officer candidate applicants accessed in 2010, 1,007 joined through the OSOs.
To stay current with training and share what they’ve learned with their peers, OSOs gathered from recruiting stations across the United States for the National Officer Selection Officer conference, held here Dec. 13 through Dec. 17.
The event was organized and planned by the Marine Corps Recruiting Command’s National Training Team, the group responsible for making sure the recruiters on the streets have all the tools they will need to be successful. Gathering that many OSOs together is no easy task, and prior planning is critical. Master Sgt. Tony Anderson, a recruiter instructor trainer with NTT, said it is an almost continuous process.
“[NTT] begins the planning a year in advance,” said Anderson. “The final site selection for this year was in March and once this conference ends, we will begin planning for next year.”
Topics covered at this year’s conference included the new Marine Corps Communication and Consulting program, or MC3, which will replace the personal selling skills portion of training OSOs receive, updates to the Marine Corps Recruiting Information Support System and various workshops on law programs, diversity, ethics and processing trends.
Lt. Col. Karl Williams, the officer in charge of NTT, says the effort his team puts into gathering everyone together is worth it, because it creates a very unique atmosphere.
“This is a great opportunity for [OSOs] to discuss issues they may have currently with all layers of their command. Where else are you going to find the district, region and command element of Marine Corps Recruiting Command all represented in one room?” said Williams. “The more [NTT] gets out into the field and hears their issues, the more we can address those issues. This also makes training much easier as bringing them together makes it less hit or miss on who has received the latest class.”
Capt. Jeffery Tew was an officer selection officer for two years before he moved to his current billet at MCRC with NTT as the officer recruiting trainer, where he has worked for the last two years. Tew has attended each of the OSO conferences over the last four years and says the conferences pave the road for continued success.
“During the rise to 202,000 thousand [Marines], we realized we needed to get better at systematic recruiting on the officer side and focus on very specific training to help our OSOs get better,” said Tew. “In the environment that we are in today, we have seen a significant improvement in the ability of our OSOs to recruit qualified applicants and get them selected to become officers in the Marine Corps. We continue to have challenges, and one of our biggest challenges is reaching out to our diversity applicants so we can accurately reflect the face of the nation.”
There will continue to be challenges in recruiting in the future, but hopefully, after attending this conference, each OSO will return home a little sharper and wiser than they were before because the sum of their shared knowledge may prove greater than its parts.