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Navy Virtual Recruiter
by U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathleen Gorby
January 5, 2020

After serving her country on active duty for four years, Personnel Specialist 1st Class Tonya Roberts entered the Navy Reserve. She wanted to continue serving her country, while also going into business for herself.

Personnel Specialist 1st Class Tonya Robert at Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Miami on May 18, 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathleen Gorby)For 13 years she honed her personal relations skills as a civilian, while also serving and deploying as a Navy reservist. Then she had the urge to switch it up. Roberts wanted to serve her country on active duty once again and began looking for orders. When she came across Canvasser Recruiter (CANREC) orders, she said she knew it would be a perfect fit.

The recruiting nation has always called on reservists to help fill gaps in manning, and Roberts wanted to answer that call. She volunteered to come back to active duty at Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Miami and was eager to use the skills she attained in her civilian capacity to connect with inquiring individuals, assisting them in the first steps of their journey to become U.S. Navy Sailors.

The CANREC program is designed primarily as a temporary recall program for reservists to aid the Navy Reserve recruiting mission. The program is open for enlisted (E-4 through E-6) and officers (O-1 through O-3).

“I applied for CANREC orders three years ago and was happy when I got them,” said Roberts. “I’ll be celebrating my 20th Navy anniversary later this month and I wanted to go back to active duty one last time before I retire.”

Since joining the recruiting team, Roberts has worn many different hats. She spent a year in Career Counseling School before transitioning to field recruiting. However, it is her role as a virtual recruiter that she enjoys the most. She is good on the phones and said this feels like a natural fit.

Online recruiting is similar to what she did in the civilian sector, said Roberts. It’s not just picking up the phone and talking, Roberts added. There is an art to the routine.

“Every morning I check to see if I have new leads,” said Roberts. “I run through my working tickler and call previous leads, then I scrub unassigned leads. I call the 40 plus schools I have and I reach out to my area to see if they have a JROTC.”

While Roberts enjoys working over the phone and through email, it does not come without its challenges. NRD Miami covers a vast stretch of land starting from just south of Orlando and going all the way to Key West, including Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. Often times there is not a recruiting station close enough for applicants to easily visit. This is an extra challenge for Roberts.

“One of the trials of virtual recruiting is the inconsistency of the applicants,” said Roberts. “The first interview is great and maybe another call or two but sometimes they just drift off. It’s hard when I can’t go to their house or school to keep them motivated.”

Earlier this month, Roberts signed her first special warfare Future Sailor. It took a month for the future Sailor to get on board, said Roberts. At first, he wanted to go to a station, but he was more than an hour and a half away from his home. Roberts stayed engaged with the applicant and was able to get him signed.

“I’m most proud of this recent Future Sailor I put in,” said Roberts. “First, he reached out to us through Navy.com. After that lead was generated, I called him right away. I blue-printed him, checked his ASVAB and kept open lines of communication.”

As Roberts gets close to retirement, she is once again facing a life outside of the Navy. One of the benefits of being on active duty is the free education through various programs such as Navy Cool and Navy Tuition Assistance. Roberts is taking advantage of these programs to not only finish her education, but to also help her in recruiting.

“I’m currently finishing my BAS in Supervision and Management,” said Roberts. “I’ve taken classes on my own time like marketing and social media, which have really helped my online presence.”

Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, 17 Navy Recruiting Districts and nine Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,330 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.

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