By Yvette Smith, Courier staff June 21, 2013
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- With the nation in an economic downturn and the national unemployment rate steadily rising, Veterans and service members preparing to transition into the civilian job sector look to programs such as the Fort Campbell's Army Career and Alumni Program to help them prepare and get a head start.
ACAP will host a summer job fair at Cole Park Commons from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday. More than 40 local, national and international, companies will be present ready to interview and accept resumes.
Transitioning Soldiers and retirees who are looking for a job, now or in the future, are encouraged to attend said ACAP Transition Services Manager Harold Riggins.
"The real key to this job fair is that they register in advance," said Riggins.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the national unemployment fell to 7.6 percent last month. The unemployment rate for Veterans fared better at 6.6 percent, down from 7.8 percent just a year ago; however, the rate for Veterans who served on active duty since September 2001 stood at 9.9 percent. While this seems high, it has actually dropped 2.2 percent from last year. These reducing rates are a reflection of the continuous efforts of military transition services army-wide.
According to Riggins, ACAP job fairs are effective in helping find employment as past attendees have received on-the-spot job offers in previous job fairs. He says the key to success is preparation.
"These organizations are looking for people to hire," he said. "Come prepared to impress them."
Riggins stated anyone attending the event needs to be prepared -- bring about 50 resumes, dress as if you're going to be interviewed and have a positive attitude.
Organizations such as Engility, who provide critical services and support to the U.S. Department of Defense, see the ACAP job fair as an effective recruiting tool -- both for immediate and future positions.
"It's not only effective in the near term, it's effective in the long-term," said Alan Preizer, international recruiter for Engility Corportation. "What typically happens, is I will meet individuals at a job fair who may or may not be available within 30-45 days but they're just starting the process."
"I'll then see them at subsequent job fairs as they go, and by the time they're available, we've established a good relationship and then we're ready to into the hiring process. So it's a great opportunity to meet those who are available now, as well as a valuable networking tool for those that will become available in the future."
Preizer appreciates the experience, leadership skills and characteristics that Veterans can offer to his organization.
"It's a combination of experience and maturity," said Preizer. "We hire primarily [former] senior non-commissioned officer and [commissioned] officers -- they have done the job that we are asking them to do already."
Preizer explained that these types of job fairs provide both employers and potential employees with an opportunity to interact in person, a rarity in today's hiring practices.
"Without job fairs, [our recruiting process] would increase in complexity," said Preizer. "Because you don't have the opportunity to meet people face-to-face and you're relying on phone calls, emails, and reading resumes, where as the interpersonal contact is more important, more valuable than just talking to someone over the phone."
As the saying goes, first impressions are the most lasting. In addition to professional attire and copies of your current resume, good communication skills are a must.
"I think it's important that [attendees] review their personal communication techniques," said Preizer. "I think it's important to market yourself in a way that makes you present yourself as someone who is going to be a valuable part of an organization."
Future job fair events include the Soldier/Veteran Graduation Job Fair Aug. 22 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Staff Sgt. Glenn H. English Jr. Army Education Center, which will be hosted by ACAP and the Fort Campbell continuing education system.
A new program provided by ACAP, in partnership with Hopkinsville Community College, is the CDL licensing program.
"That is the largest demand industry within 100 miles of Fort Campbell -- big-rig drivers and logistics operations," said Riggins. "Soldiers use to have to go to Murfreesboro, over 100 miles away or further, to get their license. Now they can drive 10 miles down the road and get it at HCC."
• For more information on ACAP events and programs, or to register for the job fair, contact (270) 798-5000 or online at www.campbell.army.mil/campbell/directorates/DHR/Pages/ACAP.aspx, www.facebook.com/FortCampbellACAP or www.acap.army.mil.