Job fair pairs spouses, employers
May 7, 2012
VILSECK, Germany -- Those looking for a career change, extra money or a diversion flooded the Multipurpose Building on April 24 for the annual ACS Job Fair.
Reminiscent of a tag sale, potential employees crowded outside the building doors in the rain well before the starting time of 10 a.m., anxious to network and hand out resumes.
An annual event in the Bavaria Military Community, ACS focused this year's fair on spouses as well as local job opportunities. Rhani Ellis, Employment Readiness Program manager, explained that past job fairs were often tainted by U.S.-based companies who showed up with no intentions of hiring job-seekers stationed in Europe.
This year, however, ACS invited only local, Army-centric companies who could offer reasonable expectations of employment.
"By being community based, it's more personal and more intimate," said Ellis.
Representatives from Subway, Netzaberg Elementary School, the commissary, Child, Youth and School Services, Service Credit Union and the tech-based contracting company, Raytheon were present.
Though the event sought to benefit job seekers, the fair also served as a fruitful resource for employers.
The managers of Service Credit Union, as emissaries for their organization, honed in on job fair applicants they were itching to nab. They even conducted interviews on site and began narrowing down a list of hires.
Both the Grafenwoehr and Vilseck branch executives of Service Credit Union felt that the quality of this year's applicant pool far surpassed those in previous years.
"It's a good opportunity for us to let people know that we're hiring. We can hang a sign in our window, but not everyone sees it," said Dustin Thursness, manager at Vilseck.
Even those organizations which conduct their hiring through USAJobs benefitted from their presence at the fair.
Netzaberg Elementary School, one of the most popular booths, found "several promising applicants," according to Principal Barbara Mueller.
Though the application process for teachers, teacher aids and substitutes must be completed online, NES and other DOD organizations have the final say in who they hire. The job fair allowed Mueller to steer promising applicants to USAJobs so the school can choose an applicant they have already met and deemed capable.
"We want their names to appear on the referral list," said Mueller of the choice applicants she had spoken with at the fair. "It's nice to put a name with a face and see them in person."
While employers exuded optimism during the four-hour event, those attending felt the burden of a limited and competitive local job market.
Chris Perry, who recently retired after 22 years in the Army, acknowledged the anxiety of his new unemployment.
"It's weird," he said. "I don't know if you'd call it stressful, it's just fear of the unknown."
With his wife still on active duty, Perry felt the added pressure of his diminishing household income and the need to contribute.
"If you're married you don't want to, I don't know, become a bum and not pull your weight," he explained.
For Jamie Zadra, a lawyer who works seasonally at the tax center in Vilseck, finding full-time employment, particularly in her field, has been a constant struggle that has defined much of her experience in Germany. At the job fair, she set her sights on administrative or teaching positions she could assume once the tax center closes for the year.
Like Perry, Zadra's main concerns are economic as she looks for any opportunity to enhance her household income. At the fair, she struck an impression by visiting many booths, resume in hand and credentials ready. But, even persistence doesn't guarantee work in the face of steep competition.
"There are a bunch of really qualified spouses," explained Zadra.
Nevertheless, she will continue looking for a job, ready to help out anywhere she can.