Employers in search of veterans at job fair
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
12/05/12 at 6:32 AM
Yolanda Berry waited patiently with a group of other veterans and military personnel for the employers to set up their booths.
They were hoping to find employment or at least a lead among the more than 85 employers there, who wanted the skill sets the veterans had.
"Being in the military 22 years, I have a lot of things I could do," said Chief Information Systems technician Berry, who is on active duty with the Navy at the Broken Arrow Armed Forces Reserve Center but plans to retire soon.
More than 300 veterans and spouses were expected to attend the Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair on Tuesday. The event was sponsored in part by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has held more than 350 job fairs targeting veterans across the country in the last two years.
Among the employers at Tuesday's event in Tulsa were law enforcement, first responders, manufacturing and sales companies from the private and public sectors. Resources to help veterans continue their education or get guidance for their resumes were also available.
Berry said having all those resources on hand helped her get a better idea of the opportunities in the Tulsa area.
"This is a better way than spending hours online," Berry said. "It allows us to get a feel."
Berry said she was assigned to the Broken Arrow center earlier this year and has come to love the community and area.
When a chance came to either retire from the military or receive a promotion and leave the area, she decided to retire. Now she's trying to find what her next chapter will be.
"You get a little nervous the closer you get to the date," Berry said. "Because I am a veteran, I am looking for a company I can work well with."
And companies are looking for the skills veterans have.
Denise Reid, director of talent strategies for the Tulsa Regional Chamber, which coordinated the event, said many employers are looking to hire veterans.
"The military is known for being responsible and on time, all of the things the employers seek in a job-ready candidate," Reid said. "We have a community very engaged and interested in supporting veterans and their families."
One of the best matches some veterans have, especially those who served as infantry, is in law enforcement, said Tulsa County Sheriff's Office Deputy Latif Whitsett, who was recruiting veterans for the sheriff's office. While some skills may not transfer well to other employers, the discipline and rigor associated with the military appeals to law enforcement.
"Tulsa County's priority is to get them jobs, get them back to work," Whitsett said. "Because of training they have and level of discipline they have, that's the training we look for."
Lindsay James, administrative assistant for manufacturing with the Tulsa Chapter of the American Red Cross, said while they have a variety of positions available, they tend to seek out those with medical experience.
"A lot of it is lab- and clinical-based," James said.
The U.S. Chamber set a goal to encourage companies to provide employment for 500,000 by 2014. Since early 2011, the group has helped place more than 14,000 veterans and their spouses.
The latest jobs numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate for veterans was at 6.3 percent in October, which is lower than the national rate of 7.9 percent.
However, the unemployment rate for veterans who fought in the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan was at 10 percent in October.
Original Print Headline: Employers in search of veterans at job fair
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
U.S. Army veteran Travis Lambert (right) talks with Tulsa County Sheriff's Deputy Latif Whitsett during a job fair for armed forces veterans at Expo Square in Tulsa on Tuesday. More than 75 companies were on hand during the career fair. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Job-seekers and recruiters move among the booths at the job fair for armed forces veterans at Expo Square on Tuesday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World