By Ms. Jessica Marie Ryan (IMCOM Europe)August 30, 2019
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- The U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Employment, Volunteer and Career Expo returns Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the SHAPE Club in Bldg. 903. The expo will feature organizations that are looking to hire military spouses, veterans, retirees, civilians and transitioning service members.
To enhance community readiness, Army Community Service planned an event focused on informing people on opportunities -- whether it is finding a job, volunteering, getting a college degree or finding career options after leaving the military.
Here are five things to know about the Benelux Employment, Volunteer and Career Expo:
1. Employers are serious about hiring people.
Randy Stephenson, Employment Readiness Program manager at USAG Benelux, advised attendees to treat the expo like a job interview, because the employers are there to find and hire potential candidates. He recommended that job seekers bring their résumés in addition to their business cards. More importantly, they need to prepare their elevator pitch, or verbal introduction, to employers.
"Have an elevator pitch about who you are. It's important to talk about your skills and show employers what you can bring to the company," he said.
Some employers will start the hiring process at the expo. According to Stephenson, Child and Youth Services will have a full-service booth where CYS staff will conduct interviews, help people with submitting their applications on USAJOBS and start the process for background checks. For those seeking jobs at CYS, interested applicants should bring personal identification documents such as U.S. passports and social security cards. Having these documents in hand will facilitate the application screenings.
2. Organizations are there to answer attendees' questions.
If attendees have questions about employment eligibility, organizations will be there to answer those inquiries. The Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, or CPAC, will have representatives there to provide guidance on eligibility for jobs at U.S. Army Garrison Benelux. The Northern Law Center will also be there to answer questions about the laws for working in Belgium, especially for U.S. personnel who are interested in starting home-based businesses or teleworking for U.S. companies while living in Europe.
"People need to know the host nation laws, especially when it comes to taxes and the status of forces agreement (SOFA) in the Benelux countries," said Stephenson.
3. Service members can learn about their post-military career options.
In addition, there will be organizations for U.S. service members who are transitioning from active-duty service to civilian in the near future. Representatives from the Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, will be there to meet with veterans and transitioning service members.
The American Legion will have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs accredited service officer on-site to meet one-on-one with eligible personnel to discuss their veteran's benefits.
4. It's not just a job fair. People can get information on volunteer opportunities.
For those not looking for jobs, there are volunteer opportunities in the Benelux. Army Community Service's Volunteer Corps program helps community members find opportunities in the area.
"Information will be provided on volunteer opportunities in the Benelux, guidance on specific opportunities to obtain specialized skills, knowledge, experience and training that can be used to enhance résumés and job applications," said Sandy Arvay, Army Volunteer Corps program manager.
There are many benefits to volunteering such as networking, developing new skills and making a difference in the community.
"Volunteer positions can fill the time gap on résumés and, in many cases, volunteer experience can qualify job applicants for positions," said Arvay.
She also added that active-duty service members can receive promotion points for volunteer work. Arvay will be on-site to talk about the Army Volunteer Corps and tools such as Volunteer Management Information System, or VMIS, for scheduling and tracking hours.
5. Education services are available in the community.
For those focusing on their education, the Benelux Education Center representatives will also be at the expo. The representatives can provide information on U.S. college degree programs offered locally, testing services and other educational needs.
"We offer academic and career counseling, testing services and on-post college classes on various schedules," said Veronica L. Fields-Cox, education services officer at U.S. Army Garrison Benelux.
"Just because you are overseas, does not mean your educational opportunities are limited or delayed. Each education center [in the Benelux] has the resources to help you establish and achieve your educational goals."
For those who cannot make it to the expo, there will be other opportunities to get career guidance. The Employment Readiness Program office, located in SHAPE Bldg. 318, is open Monday to Friday.
Stephenson is available to help people with writing résumés, improving interview skills, understanding job announcements and identifying career options. Stephenson advised people to broaden their minds and research different careers which match their skillsets.
"I tell people not to look singularly scoped on what they do and know. That's where the broadening piece comes in," he said. "I tell people to Google their skillsets. It will give them different perspectives."
For people in the Brussels community, Stephenson will be on-site during the Brussels Welcome Expo on Aug. 30 to provide employment readiness services. Stephenson added that a career expo in the Tri-Border community should be planned in the near future.
For more information on the Employment Readiness Program and Expo, please call DSN 314.366.6815 or +32(0)65.32.6815.