Military recruiting goes virtual in the pandemic

Mariam Kakhabrishvili, 23, is one of the Army's newest recruits.  She described the virtual...
Mariam Kakhabrishvili, 23, is one of the Army's newest recruits. She described the virtual recruiting process. (Source: Gray DC)(GRAYDC)
Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 2:42 PM EDT
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The Army started virtual recruiting efforts a couple years ago to better connect with Generation Z, people born in 1997 or after. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Army is now being forced to look for those new candidates completely online.

Mariam Kakhabrishvili, 23, is one of the Army’s newest recruits, following in her husband’s footsteps and completing the process virtually during the pandemic.

“I was so worried that this would just push everything months and months," said Kakhabrishvili. "But I was almost surprised that that didn’t have almost any impact on my process.”

Kakhabrishvili communicated with her Columbus, Georgia recruiter by Facebook, Facetime and text, no in-person meetings.

“With this, I kind of established a really close relationship with the recruiter, I was in constant contact with him throughout the texts, so we kind of got friends,” said Kakhabrishvili.

“They want something personal. They want a connection,” said Major General Frank Muth, Army Recruiting Command Commanding General.

Army Recruiting Command’s Major General Frank Muth said they have been incorporating virtual recruiting into their mission since 2018. But with the country staying at home, job fairs and high school meetings are on the back burner.

Muth said the Army was the first branch to go completely virtual.

“On March 18 before everyone else did, but I thought it was the right call to make,” said Muth.

Muth said his soldiers are busy managing social media accounts to find recruits, but they’re are also playing esports like Fortnite, Call of Duty and League of Legends to connect with potential recruits.

“They’re completely chatting and these guys are getting leads this way…As you can imagine, a lot of kids are at home. And they’re online gaming right now,” said Muth.

Muth said the Army is beginning to process new recruits in-person, but only in cities and towns where it’s safe to do so.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Director for Manpower Major General Larry Richoux said it is still too early to assess the impact the pandemic will have on recruiting numbers.

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