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What the Recruiter Never Told You

Part 2 -- Meeting the Recruiter

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Continued from Part 1

As I said in Part 1, if you are unsure of which service to join, you may want to visit recruiters from all of the services. If you do this, tell the recruiter, up front, that you are visiting all of the recruiters before you make any decision.

It's often a good idea to bring a parent or relative (or better yet, someone who has served in the military) with you for your first visit. However, make sure it's someone you're comfortable with. The recruiter is going to ask you many personal questions during that first interview (Have you ever used drugs?), just to make sure he knows your basic qualifications and whether or not he can afford to spend his/her valuable time with you. If you don't want your parents to hear the truthful answer to these questions, you're probably better off going alone. It's a good idea to prepare a list of questions to ask, in advance.

Be as specific as possible. While most recruiters will not lie to you, remember that the recruiter lives or dies by the number of people he/she can recruit. He or she may not volunteer information which may chase away a potential quota. It's up to you to ask pointed, specific, no-nonsense questions, and expect direct answers. Be very suspicious of any unclear, or vague answers. Always press for specifics. If in doubt, ask the recruiter to put the information in writing, and sign it, or to show you in the regulations, guides, or pamphlets that what he/she is saying is true.

If you're joining the active duty Air Force or the active duty Navy, in most cases, you don't want to ask too many questions about specific military jobs. Job selections for these branches are performed during your processing at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), and the recruiters have nothing (or little) to do with it. Rather, focus your questions on the general advantages of that particular service (length of basic training, leave (vacation), medical care, barracks/dormitory/housing conditions, education benefits, etc). If you're joining the active duty Army, active duty Marine Corps, Army or Air National Guard, or the Reserve forces (of any of the branches), the recruiter will have more input about job opportunities (more on this in the next chapter).

Common Courtesy

Recruiters are busy animals. In fact, recruiters put more hours on-the-job than just about any person in the military. Regardless of what you've heard, recruiters do not get a monetary bonus for signing people up. They get their regular paycheck, whether you enlist or not. If you drop by without an appointment, don't be surprised if your recruiter isn't there. He might be taking someone to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) on that day. She might be speaking at a high school or college. He might be at the recruiting squadron (branch, division), taking care of paperwork, or going through a training class. She might be at an applicant's house, trying to calm jittery parents. He might be taking a few days of well-deserved leave (vacation).

Don't waste a recruiter's time. They simply can't afford to spend time with those not serious about enlisting, or not qualified to enlist. Don't make an appointment, then fail to show up. Don't cancel an appointment at the last minute. Treat the recruiter with the same courtesy that you would give if you were at a meeting with the hiring director for a civilian job. If you were trying to get a job with Microsoft™, you most certainly would not walk in dressed as a bum, or make an appointment, just to cancel it at the last minute.

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