The Army Guard’s 2019 Recruiter of the Year says he excels at his job because his organization helps today’s youth reach their life’s objectives.
Sgt. 1st Class Todd Crawford, a recruiter with the Wyoming Army National Guard, earned the honor earlier this year after competing against other top performers from regions around the U.S. He sees his role as championing America’s “hometown team.”
“The biggest thing is, the National Guard, it’s the hometown team. It’s, in my opinion, the best branch out there, and I support 100% of the mission we have, so the National Guard’s great already,” he said. “I just have to tell the story and connect people who have goals and things – find out what their goals are, what drives them, and help put the National Guard in there with a role to help those goals.”
Finding what works
Like many of the students he talks to on a daily basis, Crawford enlisted during his senior year of high school when he was 17. He has been a recruiter for eight of his 12 years with the National Guard. Though, he says, the job did not always come easy to him.
“I haven’t always been great at it,” he said. “It’s something I have to work at. There even came a time in my career – in the past as a recruiter – where I struggled and it was tough for me, but it’s just getting back to the basics and understanding what’s important. You could do work all day long – from dark to dark – and not ever see your family and not ever get any appointments as a result of it if you’re not doing the right kind of work,” he said.
Part of those basics is understanding what drives prospects. Crawford sees today’s high school students as being driven by five major goals.
“Everybody’s just about the same, it seems a majority of high school students want to go to college. They go to college because they want to get a good job … and then they’re in that career so they can buy a home someday, and so they can take care of their family and the whole purpose that they do all that for is so that they can eventually retire,” he explained.
A family legacy of military service also inspires kids to take the oath, he adds.
“ … even if maybe their mom or dad didn’t serve, maybe their grandpa did and that drives them to want to do that as well.”
In 2018, the Army missed its recruiting goal for the first time since 2005, with the Army National Guard falling short by more than 9,000, according to a Department of Defense release.
Crawford spoke about the challenges recruiters face daily, including overcoming misconceptions about military service.
“The biggest objection really is fear of the unknown, or people they just don’t understand what they’re getting into – so maybe misunderstanding is how I would say it,” he said. “You know, it’s not your grandpa’s military anymore. A lot of people when they think about military, they think about World War II, Vietnam, stuff like that. It’s not that type of fighting anymore. People are afraid of going to war and dying, but the truth to the matter is more people die on Wyoming highways and same is probably true for any state or territory – more people die in car wrecks than in military service and so you kind of overcome it that way.”
One of the ways the Wyoming-native has become successful as a recruiter is by setting realistic expectations. He recommends recruiters develop an “awareness” for the job by prioritizing work and evaluating what’s working and what isn’t.
“Another big challenge of the job, especially for new or struggling recruiters, is you’re never going to have your to-do list checked off. … The other big challenge is being able to bounce back from rejection so frequently and so hard at times. You got to get through 99 no’s to get to that one yes,” he said.
Recruiters typically face long work days, which Crawford describes as the most “brutal schedule” the Army has. Days can start when it’s dark out and end when it’s dark out. For him, the demands are eased by his unique posturing as a dual-serving military family. His wife, Leila, also serves in the Army National Guard.
“She has a little bit more of an understanding of the requirements put on me and she knows how important it is to the strength and readiness of our nation’s military, but to make it work you have to give it 100% no matter where you’re at,” he said. “It’s important to dedicate your attention to the family when you’re at home with the family, then vice-versa when you’re at work you focus on work.”
For other canvassing recruiters working to find their stride, Crawford says it is important to determine what motivates you.
“Find out what drives you, what’s important to you, why you do what you do. Then number two, once you figure that out, don’t ever let the excuses that you have be bigger than your reasons why,” he said.
Crawford was formally presented with the Recruiter of the Year award by Army Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, the director of the Army National Guard.
“We are a people organization. Without soldiers, the Army National Guard cannot operate. Without you, we do not have the quality Soldiers we need to serve our states and our country. Your efforts provide the lifeblood of the Army National Guard,” Kadavy, the director of the Army National Guard, said during the awards banquet.Read comments