SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
Senior Master Sgt. Melissa Melichar, Air Force Reserve Command, Recruiting Service, Scott Air Force Base flight chief, spoke of her recent journey with the recruiting squadron. It was a year of both challenges and resiliency.
“This [fiscal year], our leadership had given us a fair share goal of 196 [recruits] based off of how well we did last year and what they thought we were capable of,” said Melichar. “We had many upcoming challenges that weren’t taken into account though.”
“We had one of our really successful in-service recruiters, Master Sgt. Jeffrey Madden, receive a permanent change of station (PCS) in October. This caused a vacancy for in-service recruiting, so we had one of our top producing line recruiters, Tech. Sgt. Nikki Seibel, selected to fill the position. [Shortly after] she had to go on maternity leave for about three months. This left her office vacant and the in-service recruiting office vacant as well,” added Melichar.
Melichar went on to say that they had another recruiter out at St. Peters, Missouri, decide to curtail and go back to her old Air Reserve Technician position, so she moved as well, leaving another position vacant which is still vacant now. When this occurred, she received Staff Sgt. Jennifer Deimund, who was a brand-new recruiter. “At first we didn’t even think we were going to have her, so I had to beg to keep her at Scott,” joked Melichar.
There were only two recruiters at this point, which were Deimund and Master Sgt. Brittany Paus.
“[With only two recruiters] we had this massive goal given to us so our team was dead in the water red. We were coming up on all the reports on how bad we were doing and everyone was like, ‘What’s going on with Team Scott?’ and I replied back with ‘We only have two recruiters’,” said Melichar. “I back-filled in for the in-service recruiting office and had Paus helping me with my new rookie recruiter, so this helped a lot but we still weren’t doing well and they weren’t reducing our goal based off of our actual capability.”
In that next quarter, they received Staff Sgt. Justin Palmer. He was another new rookie recruiter and started to help them with the St. Peters, Missouri office.“He did everything well and so he and Deimund were a nice surprise. They were very capable and came in and shined as new recruiters, so it relieved a lot of stress,” said Melichar.
Once Seibel returned from maternity leave things began to look up. Although, four out of five recruiters were in training for their position. Melichar said that having most of the recruiters in training was the biggest challenge. “After that, we were starting to do a little better in the next quarter. I told them ‘Listen, we need to get our fair share goal reduced because based off our goal in Air Force Recruiting Information Support System-Total Force (AFRISS-TF), it’s close to a 200% difference,” said Melichar.“ It wasn’t reflecting well on our team and so that put a lot of stress on everyone.”
She shared that based off of their AFRISS-TF goal they were right where they needed to be. That was why she kept telling them her team was doing good. “That’s what helped keep everyone’s spirits positive no matter what the reports looked like,” said Melichar. After that, they welcomed Tech Sgt. Bohannon Stephens to their team in April. He was the second in-service recruiter, so they had two ISR positions that had split zones (A-K, and L-Z). Then, shortly after Seibel came back from maternity leave she got PCS orders, so they ende up being down another recruiter.
“But despite all that, it was June 24th when I opened up our standings and all of the sudden saw Scott was the number one ranked medium flight in the Command and we were way above where we needed to be,” said Melichar. “They decided to go back to the real goal based off of AFRISS-TF and so it showed the true picture of how well our recruiters were actually doing, as well as how well we were doing based off the obstacles they were given having brand new recruiters, vacancies, and recruiters in training. We are now currently sitting at 106%.”
Melichar was delighted to see this and felt as though all of their hard work was paying off after struggling for so long.
“In our category, there’s 13 different flights and we’re number one, so it was exciting to see how we jumped up from being dead last to first,” said Melichar. “We are also the number one flight currently for the prior service award. This means we’ve put in 17.1% prior service during an award period. It’s another accomplishment that’s going on right now.”
When discussing their goal, Melichar said it was to recruit 99 people and they are currently at 105. Their new fair share goal is 140, so they only need 35 more people to complete that goal as well. “We need to meet the fair share goal by September 30th to say we did our job. I think we are definitely going to complete that and hopefully surpass it,” said Melichar. Melichar made sure to include how this success would not have been possible without the help from others. She stated how good their relationships with medical and force support staff was as well as public affairs. She stated that PA helped them by coming out to events and giving them the coverage they needed.
Melichar also made sure to thank Tech. Sgt. Kenyatta Pierce, 932nd FSS force management NCO in charge, and Master Sgt. Melissa McRaven, 932nd Aerospace Medical Squadron senior ART, for getting positions whenever they opened up and getting recruits cleared in a timely fashion.
“We’ve been able to just do our job, not have to stress out and now we’re actually getting recognized for it. We were not before June 24th,” said Melichar.
Melichar is proud of her groups accomplishments, but made sure to stay realistic with herself and her team. “I’m really excited about it [currently being number one] but I don’t want to jinx anything. I’m hoping we can finish out on top,” said Melichar. “I don’t want to get complacent and say we got this in the bag because we definitely don’t. We’re going to have to keep pushing and make sure that we stay the course up until September 30th.”
She added on to how her and the team are working on reforming the organization. “For reforming the process, if we have any kind of issues with a certain section… I will set-up a meeting with the main players to take care of it,” said Melichar.
She made sure to say that the key to a broken process is probably a broken relationship. Melichar said you need to mend it and you need to show them you appreciate them and recognize them for helping. “We invite them to come to team training meetings, so we can discuss any issues they have with recruiting, then we could discuss any issues with them and after, come up with a plan. That’s how we improve the process,” added Melichar.
Melichar spoke about how they have been reforming the process by implementing “The Cube.” The four key players on the table to help the recruiting and the retention process. These key players include the flight chief, the FSS officer, the civilian liaison and also the career advisor. She discussed how the recruiting department helps shape these incoming recruits into leaders. “For example, I think once they come into the door, they meet with Sgt. Deimund and see how she carries herself as well as her respect, and courtesy she shows,” said Melichar.
Melichar also noted the importance of how they present themselves to the public and carry themselves because people, especially these new recruits, are always watching how they are acting. She stated that appearance and actions can affect how people think about the military.
She is very confident of her team in how they recruit as well as how they present themselves mentally and physically to help shape these new leaders. The recruiting staff of five recruiters had an interesting past year. They went from being in the red on the ranks to waking up and realizing they were currently in first place for their flight category. “I think our recruiting team is above par of what they should be doing because I see this happening every day,” said Melichar.