By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJanuary 25, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Fort Rucker Gate Guard Job Fair Jan. 20 was a resounding success for all involved, according to officials involved in the event.
The installation held its first Gate Guard Job Fair in hopes to better find qualified applicants to fill gate guard positions, and Marvin Brandon, chief of security guards, said the fair exceeded expectations.
"We had about 90 people show up, which was a really good turnout, especially with everything that was going on (with the government shutdown)," said Brandon. "Although we weren't able to do the formal interviews … I was able to interact with the people and they let me know that they now better understand the process that they must go through, so I think that helped a lot."
One of the biggest hiccups when hiring new gate guards was the application process, said the security chief. Oftentimes, qualified applicants would get overlooked or their applications would fail to go through simply because they weren't able to navigate the process properly or their resumes weren't properly worded.
Because of that, Brandon said it was imperative to help educate those who wished to apply on the process and proper channels to go through.
"We started planning this around November of last year, and what we did was coordinate with civilian personnel here on post and the Alabama Career Center, and asked them to help us get the word out and to also assist us to get potential candidates familiar with the process of applying on USA Jobs," he said. "We coordinated with the state agencies and Fort Rucker agencies to conduct workshops, and we had one in Troy, one in Dothan and one in Enterprise, where people were able to learn how to fill a resume and ask their questions about job interviews."
With the workshops, along with the help of the Alabama Career Center, Brandon said with the quality of applications during the job fair exceeded their expectations.
Before entering the job fair, applicants were able to enter the Alabama Career Center's mobile lab where they had access to computers and printers, so candidates were able to go in, double check their resumes and print off any information that they might have forgotten.
Once inside the job fair, Brandon said the applicants were welcomed by the Fort Rucker garrison command team and were able to learn about the hiring process.
The applicants were then divided up into veterans and non-veteran candidates, since veterans do have preference when being considered for gate guard positions, said the security chief, adding that although the entire process took a few hours, the time spent with the applicants was well worth it.
Brandon said the job fair was a great opportunity to meet the actual candidates in person before holding a formal interview, which can be essential in determining who might be right for the job.
"We look for people who are dedicated and serious," he said. "A lot of times people look at the position of a gate guard and think that it's just about standing out there and checking IDs, because that's all they see, but there is a lot more to this.
"You have to be committed to this," he continued. "Sometimes you're standing out there in cold weather at (3 a.m.) -- that's something that requires commitment. We look for people who are serious about this, because we are the first line of defense for Fort Rucker -- I take that seriously."
Brandon said it's the gate guards who give Fort Rucker a sense of safety that can't be found outside of the installation, and because of that sense of security, applicants must meet the standard.
"(In an outside community), there are probably places at night you wouldn't feel comfortable walking, but here on Fort Rucker if you decide you wanted to take a run at (3 a.m.), you could probably go over to the track and run and still feel comfortable, and the only difference is because we have a secure installation with control points where we vet who comes in and out," he said.
With the success of the job fair and the preparation for the applicants leading up to it, Brandon said this process is something he hopes to continue in the future in regards to employment opportunities.
"It was a good, successful job fair, and I really appreciate the support from the command and the community -- the garrison command group, civilian personnel, security division, Lyster Army Health Clinic -- everybody helped us to get this together," he said. "This wasn't a one-directorate effort -- it was the effort of different directorates coming together and pulling this off."