Retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Peter Hunt (right) talks with Praxis Engineering recruiter Ross Hecox during the Veterans Job Fair at Club Meade on Nov. 16. Nearly 90 companies attended the event, meeting with hundreds of prospective employees.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- As Master Sgt. Derinda Johnson considers retiring from the Air Force in the near future, she traveled from Fort Detrick to Fort Meade to begin her search for a career in emergency management or security.

Along with other active-duty service members, veterans and the general public, Johnson scoured the Veterans Job Fair held Nov. 16 at Club Meade for new job opportunities.

The fair, Johnson said, was the "perfect opportunity" to find and meet with employers.

Nearly 90 companies and government agencies ranging from the DISH Network and Lockheed Martin to Army Cyber Command and the Department of Justice filled Club Meade as recruiters met with hundreds of prospective employees.

Ross Hecox, a recruiter for Praxis Engineering, said his software and systems engineering company participates in Fort Meade job fairs because of the large talent pool on and around the installation.

"We value the veteran community, we value the military experience," Hecox said.

Other recruiters, including Shane Williams of EcoLabs, said their companies have experienced similar success in hiring individuals with a military background.

"We always try to look for veterans," Williams said. "We've had a high success rate with those from the military."

Among the veterans who attended was Peter Hunt, who retired from the Air Force in 1997 as a staff sergeant. The information technology specialist was looking for the next step in his post-military career.

"I'm looking for something new to do, trying to expand my career," he said. "This is a great opportunity to see who's out there and who's hiring."

In addition to the veterans and service members in attendance, civilians were also invited to participate. William Obeng-Darko, who will graduate from Purdue University in Indiana with degrees in electrical and computer engineering next year, attended the fair to begin his job search.

"Especially with this economy ... it's a blessing," Obeng-Darko said. "This is great to showcase your talent and academic skills."

Jerome Duncan, business resource representative and workforce specialist with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, said job fairs are beneficial to employers as well. By meeting face-to-face, recruiters can make better judgments on the prospective employees than when they just look at a resumé.

"Most of these employers, they like the face-to-face concept based on the factor that they can see the person and see the resumé, and then make the determination," Duncan said.

Job-seekers also benefit from the one-on-one interaction with recruiters, Obeng-Darko said.

"Online, you don't have that face-to-face talk," he said. "You just send in your resumé, and based on what they have on paper, they call you. Here you can make an impression."

The Veterans Job Fair offered more than just the opportunity to meet with employers. In the Chesapeake Lounge, the Resumé Doctor helped job-seekers tweak and fix their resumés.

Johnson said the "doctor" critiqued her resumé and offered tips on selling herself to future employers.

"He built my confidence, definitely," she said.

The job fair was also a venue to network, said Hunt, benefiting even those who are currently employed.

"You should always be looking for a new job," he said. "You never know when an opportunity is going to come up."

Page last updated Wed November 23rd, 2011 at 00:00