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From April through June 2015, the Guard put its recruiters to the test with the nationwide “9 in 90 Recruiting Challenge.” The goal: Enlist nine new recruits in 90 days—six more enlistments than the three-month average. Eighty-six recruiters met the challenge, with Pennsylvania National Guard Sergeant Amadou Traore leading the way with 18 accessions. For his efforts, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal in August.
Born in Mali, Traore, 29, did not speak English when he arrived in the U.S. in 2009. After learning the language in about a year, he joined the Guard in 2011, became a U.S. citizen in 2012 and started working as a full-time recruiter in 2015.
When the 9 in 90 Recruiting Challenge was announced, what was your reaction?
I wanted to pull in the most applicants and try to be No. 1 in the nation.
Would you agree the program achieved its goal of motivating recruiters?
It motivated me. I put in five [recruits] in April, and a recruiter in Virginia [Staff Sergeant Brian Merritt] put 11 in, so he was way ahead of me. I’m like, “If somebody puts 11 in, I’m going to catch up.” On the last day, I put two [recruits] in and won by one.
How much did it mean to win the Challenge?
When somebody like myself, with a funny accent, can come in and be really dedicated and really work hard, it shows others they can do it. I was really proud of myself, and hopefully I’m able to impact somebody positively to push themselves to exceed what is in them.
Can you describe your feelings at the ceremony when you received the Commendation Medal?
Hearing them talk about me was a surreal feeling. I was the center of attention and I was like, “Whoa! Really?” The emotions made me numb. That doesn’t happen to me a lot.
What are the keys to being a successful recruiter?
The first thing is motivation. You need to show the person who’s sitting there that you’re motivated, so they’re motivated. They need to have that feeling that you love what you do. Another thing is talk to a lot of people. Not everybody you talk to is going to enlist or meet the requirements. Then you have to put the time in. It’s not an 8-to-4 or 9-to-5 job.
What do you tell applicants at the start of the recruiting process?
I find out what the applicant is really looking for and then explain how the Guard can help them achieve their goals. I also motivate them with my own story—what I’ve done, the way I did it and all the obstacles I had to go through to get where I am. Nobody would’ve expected that I’d be where I am right now. They can do it, too.
What do you tell recruits and their families when they ask, “What’s the downside to the Guard?”
I tell them, “I honestly don’t know any.” For two days of work a month [and two weeks of training a year], you get education benefits; you meet new people who become your friends and can help you in your career and life; and you get experience that will make it easier to get a job.
How does GX help you as a recruiter?
Having our own publication shows how professional our organization is. I use GX to show applicants our responsibilities in the community, and I also promote the inspiring stories in GX about Guard Soldiers in our communities.
What has it meant to you to be part of the National Guard?
The Guard is a family. It’s not just a job you’re doing every week. It’s not just training two days out of the month. In my unit with my buddies, I know I can count on them and they know they can count on me.
Do you expect recruiting to be your long-term role in the Guard?
I’m definitely staying in the Guard for 20 years, and I want to stay in recruiting for my career. The Guard needs new Soldiers at all times. That’s why we need to be recruiting all year long. When you help a recruit get started in the Guard, it’s a feeling you can’t buy. And then when I see them being successful or on a good path to being a successful person, I love that. That’s a feeling I want to keep.
SGT Amadou Traore, a recruiting and retention NCO with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in Philadelphia, uses his own success story to inspire new recruits to join.