Following 2019’s record-breaking recruitment efforts, the CIA will stream its first-ever recruitment ad on TV. The ad, which will be available on multiple platforms, is intended to “excite” Americans to apply and to offer a glimpse of their global mission. While the ad does not pull back the real curtain for a behind the scenes look, it certainly provides the feeling we all want of working at the CIA. No need to sell all the boring aspects of the job because we all know that the CIA is being part of something bigger than yourself.
“There is an officer sitting at a desk and they say, ‘I think I found something.’ That gave me goose bumps,” said Lisa Maddox, a former C.I.A. analyst. “Because I had those moments, and almost everyone I know had them. When you feel you found that needle in a haystack, you are so excited. It is a cool moment.”
Titled “Discover the CIA: Your Nation Is Counting On You,” the campaign will include 15-, 60-, and 90-second ads. “It only takes one new piece of foreign intelligence, and everything can change in an instant. Most people will never see your work. Your greatest strength will be the people around you. Your greatest reward is knowing that your efforts will help keep all Americans safe,” says the narrator.
The CIA says that the campaign is “a continuation of the agency’s focused recruitment efforts.” For those paying close attention, the jump into streaming advertisements has followed the agency’s recruiting pattern in recent years. Last year, the CIA officially launched its Instagram account. CIA director Gina Haspel has made a point to visit universities to “attract top national security talent.” Said Haspel, “Since I became director, I have prioritized how, where, and whom we recruit to be the next generation of CIA officers. Broadcast advertising is an important step in reaching talented Americans with the diversity of experiences we require to continue to be the world’s premier intelligence service.”
“Discover the CIA”
The CIA has been notoriously tight-lipped, and while the recent recruitment efforts have offered the public a glimpse of the agency, one should not confuse publicity with transparency. After all, the agency’s classified nature is part of the “Discover the CIA’s” selling point. One version of the streaming advertisement says: “Your achievements, while unknown to the public, are critical to our national security. The nation is counting on you to discover the truth.”
Recruiting Strategy that Leads to a Retention Strategy
The advertisements are part of an apparent strategy to attract younger talent to the agency. However, the campaign appears to be coming from a position of strength; 2019 saw the best recruiting year the CIA has had in the last decade. If there is a time for public outreach, perhaps it is now. Given the turbulence within the first half of 2020, the agency is rightly seeking to improve and increase employment, young talent, and public persona.
The CIA is well aware that in order to maintain a strong workforce, you have to attract the best.