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Lobby X: Promoting modern and effective military recruitment in Ukraine
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in the op-ed section are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of the Kyiv Independent.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are estimated to have more than tripled its personnel since the full-scale war began on Feb. 24, 2022, currently adding up to around 700,000 soldiers, according to Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
If we include the Border Guard, National Guard, and police, the total comes up to around 1 million. Conscription is also speeding up as the AFU is expected to conduct major offensive operations in the spring and summer of 2023.
Without mass conscription and military commissariats (renamed to territorial recruitment and social support centers), the AFU would experience a significant decline in military capacity and hard power.
However, it is obvious that Ukraine’s existing conscription system (which has not significantly changed since Ukraine’s independence in 1991) is based on a deeply rudimentary approach and needs an upgrade.
In the first days of Russia’s full-scale war of aggression, every minute mattered so it was necessary to proceed with the training and onboarding of reservists, volunteers, and conscripts extremely fast. But a few months into the war, the AFU sometimes ended up with fresh soldiers being appointed chaotically just to fill the gaps – for whatever roles were needed at any given time across local units.
It was not a rare scenario for someone in marketing to become a cook, or an engineer to become a security guard. Previous skills and experience have not always been taken into consideration, resulting in many people being placed in odd places, not using their valuable strengths, and losing their motivation to serve, when there might have been relevant positions open for them in other units.
As the primary selection process remained unchanged at the ground level of military enlistment units, it was up to the personal connections and proactivity of individual soldiers to switch to more relevant roles – or not.
We at Lobby X realize that a more efficient and centralized approach is needed, and we have started to test and implement such efforts.
What is Lobby X?
At its core, Lobby X is a socially responsible human capital platform and international recruiting agency based in Kyiv.
It started as a volunteering initiative in 2015 with the goal to bridge talents seeking to join teams of leaders and reform makers within both governmental and non-governmental domains. Lobby X has helped recruit team members for the likes of Prozorro, U-LEAD, Ukraine’s Health Ministry, and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.
There is currently a vital need to enhance Ukraine’s army in order to deter the aggressor, so Lobby X has volunteered to help by using our recruiting expertise and reputation. Our goal is to encourage more civilians to take up arms and defend their country by bringing efficiency, transparency, and positive change to the military recruitment and internal transition process.
The recruitment process for military vacancies
We published and filled the first military vacancies on Lobby X’s channels at the end of March 2022. At first, the vacancies were for system administrators across different brigades, translators for the International Legion, and communication managers for the Air Force Command. We then got a bunch of purely military vacancies.
Eventually, due to word of mouth (and social media, since we publish all positions on our website and Telegram channel), commanders, officers, and unit leaders began requesting our help with finding specialists to join their units. When there’s a recruitment need for a certain professional in a verified military unit, we can jump in immediately.
To recruit soldiers, we apply a pretty common staffing approach used for our interdisciplinary clients. In the beginning, there were no unified job descriptions, no common channels through which to promote them, and little clarity on when the interviews could take place (hiring officers might be located in the immediate war zone), so we had to create it all from scratch and present a new approach to the hiring managers.
Lobby X covers everything in this process from job description creation to selecting the relevant applications to present them for the given manager to review – keeping everything as fast and convenient for managers as possible.
To receive applications, we use a range of tactics, including social media campaigns, community outreach, and partnerships with military leaders and trusted organizations. We make it simple for candidates to apply – they can email a CV or send a letter describing their experience and interest.
We treat personal data with the utmost confidentiality. When applying via Lobby X, the candidate profile is presented only to the intended hiring officer and unit. When there is a match, our mission is then complete and the registration or transition is carried out by the military unit directly, according to current procedures.
Roles can include anything from a driver, gunner, vehicle mechanic, and doctor, to fairly niche specialties like drone operator, cybersecurity and data science engineer, and most recently, a scuba diver! Some of the hardest positions to fill are medical jobs and officer positions that require a certain military rank, while for example IT, design, PR, and videography vacancies are much easier.
As of now, the Lobby X team has taken care of 185 military vacancies, received over 10,000 applications, worked with 44 units, and successfully recruited over 500 servicemen– all in less than a year. The total number of placements may also be higher, as some data has not been confirmed due to hiring officers’ large workloads. There is still much work to be done though.
It is important to mention that we at Lobby X want to go beyond simply filling job vacancies in the military. We are working to change the way that Ukrainians think about military service. Rather than seeing it as a last resort or a leap into the unknown, we believe in the idea that serving in the military is a worthwhile pursuit and unique experience where you can use your professional skills and bring the maximum benefit to the victory of Ukraine.
As a forward-thinking organization, there are two main directions for our future agenda:
- Supporting the employment of war veterans. This includes working as career consultants to help people succeed in the job search process after demobilization, and working with employers to create and promote more job opportunities for war veterans by supporting them in the interview, retraining, and onboarding processes. To achieve this, we could create opportunities for veterans to hold specific positions in policy-making at the local and national levels, in the restoration of liberated territories, and in educational and media activities. This will help synchronize society’s vision and values with those of veterans.
- Involving diaspora in the recovery, reconstruction, and modernization of Ukraine. There are many talented leaders and executives with Ukrainian roots in Canada, the U.S., and other countries who can bring unique international experiences, best practices, and wide networks to contribute to the revival of Ukraine in different domains, and we aim to match them smoothly with relevant projects and initiatives.
We are open to other ideas and partnerships to help us further enhance the military recruitment process and to unite efforts for future projects.
Let’s “Stop Zrada, and Do Peremoha” for the progress of Ukraine.