Employers Interview Wounded Warriors

Juan Garcia and David Dunaway.

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. —  May 29 was a good day to be a wounded warrior or veteran looking for a job in Raleigh, North Carolina.

About 500 wounded warriors and veterans connected with almost 80 employers and 14 support organizations during DoD's Hiring Heroes Career Fair May 29 at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown hotel.

The career fair took place on the second day of the Department of the Navy's 4th Annual Wounded Warrior and Veteran Hiring and Support Conference, sponsored by Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Manpower and Reserve Affairs (ASN M&RA).

"This is the first time we've taken the Wounded Warrior and Veteran Hiring Conference outside a fleet concentration area, and we're ecstatic with the turnout and employer participation," said Juan Garcia, ASN (M&RA). "We had the maximum number of employers we could fit in the space and almost 500 job seekers. Raleigh-Durham is an incredibly patriotic community."

This was the second time the Hiring Heroes program organized the career fair for DoN.

"More than 100 were interviewed, more than 40 were given tentative job offers and more than 170 job offers are anticipated to be made in the future based on our survey data," said Karen Hannah, DoD Hiring Heroes program manager. "The event was extremely successful based on the results."

A new and effective feature of this year's career fair was the pre-matching of candidates with employers, who conducted on site and virtual interviews for open positions. Futures Inc. provided the Military Skills Translator and skills latticing technology to pre-match qualified candidates to employers with relevant open positions.

More than 80 pre-scheduled interviews were conducted with employers who took advantage of the matching service and more than 50 percent resulted in tentative job offers.

"We are proud to be able to help our wounded warriors and veterans quickly and accurately match their skills to employment opportunities and get great jobs," said Geoff Cramer, CEO of Futures.

"I had three pre-scheduled interviews and received a job offer from a subcontractor with NAVAIR the next day!" said one job seeker.

 NAVAIR senior executive and hiring manager Daniel Nega found the pre-matching invaluable. "I highly recommend more employers use the pre-matching, and bring more managers to conduct on-the-spot interviews."

NAVAIR is pursuing an acquisition intern opportunity for U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Ryan Harshman with the Wounded Warrior Battalion East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Harshman attributes his success, in part, to the battalion's transition coordinators. "They helped us prepare our resumes, and even though we are not in suit and tie, they had us dress in our 'Charlies' so we could find each other and be recognized by the vendors," he said.

Having the Marines wear their Service "C" uniform, known as Charlies, was designed to make them feel more at ease in the crowded career fair hall. "Being in a big, crowded room can sometimes be a hindrance for a lot of combat veterans," Harshman said. "To have other warriors, people that you trust, in this large room is really important."

The day also went well for conference co-hosts and hiring managers with Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR).

"The wounded warrior and veteran candidates that I met with had a wealth of proven leadership and technical skills that are critical for today's job market," said Gary Kurtz, NAVAIR's assistant commander for corporate operations and total force strategy and management. "Almost all of the candidates I met with not only had a college degree; many had dual or advanced degrees, including Ph.D.s. These are highly educated and motivated people who are looking to grow careers and be key contributors to the companies and business that hire them."

"This career fair was very effective for us, especially since WWB East arranged transportation for wounded warriors from Camp Lejeune and the Army's Warrior Transition Command did the same for wounded warriors from Fort Bragg and Joint Base Langley-Eustis," said Jenna Sarafin, who manned the NAVSEA job fair booth. "This allowed us to talk to several candidates all in one location."

Sarafin said this was also a good opportunity for NAVSEA to connect a wounded warrior stationed at Camp Lejeune with a NAVSEA recruiter from Washington State, where he will be relocating once he is medically retired.

The Department of the Navy intends to continue sponsoring these two-day hiring and support conferences for wounded warriors and veterans.

"This model has been proven in successfully reintegrating these incredible young Americans back into society and into great careers. Next year, we look to stage the conference in another region of the country where we are anxious to tap into the reservoir of talent they represent," Garcia said.

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