Too much recruiting stress can harm your health and well-being. Knowing how to recognize the symptoms and causes of the stress and how to cope with it is extremely important.
Symptoms of recruiting stress
Before assuming your duties, you passed a screening that identified you as having the traits to be successful in the job. However, that doesn't mean you won't experience stress. Some stress is normal, but too much can cause problems. By learning the symptoms of stress, you can take steps to manage it before it interferes with your life. The most common symptoms of excessive stress are:
- Fatigue, insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches, ulcers or heartburn
- Inability to concentrate or relax
- Changes in appetite
- Decreased sexual interest
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Inability to leave problems behind when off duty
- Feeling hopelessly overloaded
- Feeling trapped
If not addressed, stress may result in clinical depression. The depression may surface as:
- Impulsive or indecisive actions
- Irritability and anger
- Alcohol abuse
What causes recruiting stress?
Being a recruiter is extremely challenging work, in part because it is critical to the success of your service branch. Here are some of the stressors of recruiting duty:
- Pressure and responsibility to meet your monthly quotas - You are held accountable for your quotas. This may make you feel that you are being watched and judged.
- Current events that interfere with the interest and commitment of new recruits - Your ability to attract new recruits can be affected by the day's news and the political climate.
- A lack of control and flexibility - As a recruiter, there is much that you have no control over. This can be frustrating to someone who is used to calling the shots.
- Work-hour requirements interfere with family and personal time - It's common to work 12 to 15 hours per day, and recruiters are often on duty nights and weekends.
- Unrealistic expectations - Because recruiters don't deploy, you and your loved ones may expect that you will be spending more time at home. The reality is you will spend a great deal of time on the job. You and your loved ones are likely to feel frustrated if you're not prepared for the demands of recruiting duty.
- Being close to extended family - While having family nearby can relieve some of the pressure of working long hours, family members may also make demands on your time.
- Being stationed away from installations and their services - It will be more difficult to access military services, and you may feel isolated without an installation nearby.
Reducing the stress of recruiting duty
Here are ways to reduce the stress of recruiting duty:
- Control what you can and manage the rest. Analyze the challenges of your job and try different strategies. But keep in mind that because so much depends on the actions and rules created by leadership - and by the potential recruits and their families - that even your most constructive efforts won't guarantee success. However, you will feel more in control knowing that you're approaching the challenges the best way you know how.
- Be prepared for the first year to be the most difficult. It generally takes a year to become comfortable in your new community and to adjust to the demands of your new job. After that, it gets easier.
- Take advantage of what recruiting duty has to offer. This includes the opportunity to polish your communication and interpersonal skills, both highly marketable skills in the armed forces and the civilian workforce.
- Get involved with your local community. Join a house of worship, a community center, and school groups if you have children. If you're married, encourage your spouse to do the same. You will meet new people and start forming a local support system.
- Identify military services in your community. Find the location of the nearest National Guard unit or other Reserve unit. There may be chaplain or counseling services available to you.
- Schedule time for personal activities. It's easy to get so caught up in your job that you neglect to make time for other things. Strike a balance in your life by scheduling time on your calendar every week for things you enjoy, such as hiking, going to the movies, and spending time with friends and family.
- Involve your family in your work. Invite your spouse or other family members to accompany you to exhibits or school presentations. Ask them to help out with mailers. Stuffing envelopes may be boring, but it's a chance to be with someone you love while getting work done.
- Stick to your fitness program. On days when you work long hours you may be tempted to skip the gym, but you'll be better off if you work out. Exercise is an important way to manage stress, so be sure to do it at least three times per week.
- Take care of your physical health. Good physical health increases tolerance to stress. In addition to getting plenty of exercise, eat and sleep sensibly. Cut down on or eliminate alcohol, tobacco and drugs, which interfere with sleep.
- Learn to relax. Find a safety valve, such as a sport, hobby, music, reading or just walking.
- Use an activity as a "bridge" between work and home life. Taking a run after work, going to the gym, or listening to a favorite radio program or music will help prepare you for the mental transition from recruiting attitude to family attitude.
- Prevent stress overload before it happens. Do this by recognizing the danger signs of recruiting stress. Learn the symptoms and take action as soon as they appear to be getting out of hand.
- Reach out for support when you need it. Non-medical counseling services available through Military OneSource or military and family life counselors at no cost to address a variety of issues. You can access Military OneSource online or by calling 800-342-9647. You can also find out about services through your installation family programs. You can also reach out to your installation chaplain for confidential counseling services.