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Job fair draws record crowd

POSTED: May 3, 2011 9:40 a.m.

Private 1st Class Travis Bakewell talks to E.W. Wylie Corp. recruiting manager Bob Sweeney about a job as a truck driver Wednesday during Fort Stewart’s annual career expo. (Denise Etheridge)

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In an annual career expo held at Fort Stewart’s Club Stewart last week, 227 job seekers arrived in just 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,’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 U.S., 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 explained.

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.”

For more, pick up a copy of the April 30 edition of the News.

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