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Fort Stewart job fair draws record crowd

Organizers also see more employers looking

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POSTED: April 29, 2011 9:18 a.m.
Denise Etheridge/

WyoTech military admissions representative Steven Lange, far right, greets soldiers during a job fair at Club Stewart. WyoTech provides mechanics-repair training in automotive technology, HVAC and marine watercraft.

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In the annual career expo held at Fort Stewart’s Club Stewart on Tuesday, 227 job seekers arrived in the first hour of the event to meet with 41 employers.
Universities, representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs and other governmental entities and about 15 private corporations, including Lockheed Martin, Fluor and URS, were recruiting future civilian employees from the military community.
“We’re seeing more employers sign up for these events; we have twice the number (of job seekers) here than we did the same time last year,” Vicki L. Washington, CivilianJobs.com’s director of job fair operations, said.
Washington said she will facilitate 32 such job fairs this year and already has 36 career expos planned for next year. These job fairs are held at military installations across the United States, she said.
Washington said there are more positions available in the job market today than there were last year, which is good news for veterans and active-duty service members transitioning out of the military.
“The job market is opening up but is still driven by locale,” she said. “We are seeing almost double the number of employers participating in job fairs and posting vacancies to job boards this year.”
Military experience can translate into civilian workforce jobs, Washington said.
“(Employers) want someone who is trained, skilled in their specialties,” she said. Service members tend to be disciplined, exhibit integrity, have a tremendous work ethic and come to new careers with real-world experience, the job fair director said.
“Soldiers don’t watch a clock,” she said. “As soldiers, we’re used to working weekends and holidays. And, obviously, we’re loyal.”
Job seekers were asked to pre-register for the career expo, Washington said.
“Their job skills and geographic preferences were matched against the needs of the attending employers, and those employers received the job seekers’ resumes in advance of the job fair for review,” she said.
Washington advised military members transitioning out of the service to carefully “plan their exit.”
“If you’re a soldier and the only source of your family’s income, plan 18 months out (from separation),” she said. “And research, research, research. There are websites you can go to that will translate your MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) to a civilian job.”
Washington said soldiers leaving the military utilize the Army Career and Alumni Program. ACAP provides such services as mandatory pre-separation counseling for soldiers, job-search workshops, interactive computer-based job-assistance training and small-business workshops. The program also facilitates employer recruitment visits, she said.
“They give you every tool you need,” Washington said. “But you have to be motivated and do your own due diligence.”
Pfc. Travis Bakewell is leaving the Army in three months after five years of service. He attended the job fair to see “what the job market is like.”
One of the employer representatives Bakewell spoke to was E.W. Wylie recruiting manager Bob Sweeney. E.W. Wylie Corporation is a flatbed and heavy-haul trucking company currently seeking drivers for Southeast routes, Sweeney said.
“We’re well-positioned to offer drivers some good opportunities,” he said. “The trucking industry is experiencing the worst driver shortage since the early 1990s.”
Military dependent Jennifer Walsh was “looking for anything that’s available.” She said she had more than 25 years of experience in customer service. She found the fair helpful.
“I’m taking business cards and telephone numbers,” Walsh said. “Some of the vendors’ tables I’ve visited will call back for interviews.”
“You must be qualified,” Kevin Green, regional veterans employment coordinator with the Department of Veterans Affairs, told a crowd of job seekers. “Just because you’re a veteran doesn’t mean you automatically get a job.”
For information, go to www.civilianjobs.com.

 

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