"Feedback from veterans and employers was excellent," said Frank Alaniz, Missouri Workforce Regional Liaison at SLATE Missouri Career Center (SLATE MCC), his impression of a Job Fair for Veterans that took place on April 19, 2012 in Bridgeton. Alaniz said that the Job Fair turned in a record number of job seekers and employers – a total of 511 veterans had a chance to meet recruiters from 109 local businesses.
A variety of major industries in the region were represented, such as manufacturing, banks and insurance, higher education, utilities, IT, transportation, biotech, hospitality, and healthcare, among others. "Our attendance at this year's job fair provided us with insights into a variety of skilled airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines who are willing, able and ready to begin a second career," said Frank Lamm, Director of Application Modernization Center of Excellence (AMCOE) at Unisys.
Alaniz delivered an effective presentation on Navigating a Job Fair, sharing tips and techniques on how to make the most out of this and other such events. He challenged conventional thinking, shared by many veterans, who believe that Job Fairs are designed to help them apply for numerous, but unrelated, positions. Instead, Alaniz said that the true value of a Job Fair is in its great networking opportunities. "It allows veterans to target companies they really want to work at and apply the talents and skills that served our country so well," said Alaniz.
One of the challenges many veterans face is an inability to translate their military skills to the realities of today's civilian employment requirements. "Many [veterans] communicate well but far too many have difficulties talking about themselves," Lamm said. A newly developed workshop, Translating Military Skills into 'Civilianese,' helped dozens of veterans overcome this particular challenge. Businesses offered their own advice as well: "I spent a great deal of time mentoring and coaching many veterans on 'elevator speeches' and 'selling themselves in five minutes or less," said Lamm.
Résumé and Interviewing were among the additional workshops offered at the Job Fair. SLATE MCC helped other community agencies to conduct career counseling. A strategic partnership between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and community agencies, like SLATE MCC, is implementing the 'Hiring Our Heroes' initiative launched a year ago to connect veterans and military spouses to local employment opportunities through events like this Job Fair.
A Veteran Representative is available at both SLATE MCC locations to answer any questions about services that can help veterans find employment. SLATE MCC conducts monthly orientation /information sessions for those interested in working with us. The next orientation is scheduled for May 18, 2012; to register, please email Martin.Payne@ded.mo.gov.
"We plan to attend all future job fairs for veterans," Lamm said.