JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- The Hiring Our Heroes Career Summit event returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord Sept. 14-15, highlighting current job openings as well as holding panel discussions to help job seekers gain the all-important interview skills to assist them in landing a meaningful career.
“We are really glad that you’re here,” said Adam Rocke, senior director for events and programs for HOH to the crowd that packed Carey Theater during a job seeker morning session Sept. 15. “Look around, this is a tremendous audience. This is one of the better one’s we’ve had, and we’ve always had a great experience here at JBLM and it’s great to be with all of you.”
The two-day event kicked off with a networking reception at the American Lake Conference Center Sept. 14. It was followed by a job-seeker morning session forum Sept. 15, culminating with the career hiring summit in the afternoon.
“The uniqueness of HOH is just that -- we hold hiring events rather than a job fair or a career fair,” said Crystal Kearns, director of events and engagements for HOH. “Our companies come military-ready to hire. Today, over 40 percent will receive a job offer and that’s exciting. In addition to that, another 40 to 50 percent will receive follow-up interviews scheduled.”
John Wayne Troxell, who retired after serving in the Army as the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after he was the I Corps command sergeant major, was the event’s guest speaker and HOH brand ambassador.
“We’re going to take the transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses and talk them through the steps necessary to get a good job that’s worthy of their service, but also give them ways to network and to continue to build opportunities for growth, development and employment,” Troxell said. “Make sure they amplify on their resume, not just the technical skills of what they’ve done, but their leadership and management skills of their service in the military.
“Second, build a network, get on LinkedIn and reach out. Get business cards from potential employers. Last but not least, this is the time for them, and they have to turn their whole career that’s built on selfless service, and now they have to build themselves into marketable, personal brand that will be attractive to the businesses and corporations.”
This year’s HOH event is the ninth iteration at JBLM, and the companies and organizations that attended sent their representatives ready to hire job seekers.
“As a retired Soldier myself, companies welcome you with open arms, they value the leadership, they value the organization and promptness that we bring to the table,” said Ellis Berthiaume, from one of the hiring companies. “So as an operations manager for one of these companies at this HOH event, that’s what I’m looking for, to bring the same thing to our company.”
Kearns was asked why employers are drawn to the military community and explained the flexibility that they bring to the table.
“I would say adaptability,” Kearns said. “Our military community is nimble. We’re able to adapt and overcome many challenges and that translates into the workforce. You might have a conflict at work, you adapt, you resolve, you overcome. You might be thrown a challenge at work, whether a technical challenge or a soft skill type challenge and you adapt and overcome. So I would say the nimbleness and the adaptability of our military community is bar none.”
Kearns also gave her best advice for service members, veterans and spouses during the hiring event.
“Network -- build your network,” Kearns said. “You never know where you’re going to be in a few years. Let’s face it, every single person that joins the military, will one day get out of the military. So even if you are still planning to continue your military career, build these networks, come to the events and meet new people, connect with them, connect through LinkedIn, keep those relationships going because one day you will get out of the military.”
For Lt. Col. Joseph Harrison, I Corps headquarters, who retires soon, he said he wants to secure a job before his terminal leave ends in a month.
“Primarily, I’m trying to translate my experiences from the military as an operational and program planner to a civilian job at this hiring event,” Harrison said. “I attended the job-seeker session, and it was great, specifically the LinkedIn development and resume development workshops offered by HOH are very helpful.”
For Air Force spouse Caroline Pomiroy, who spent the last eight years living overseas, her experience at the event was positive.
“I got plenty of information,” she said. “I’ve been asking a lot on how I can transfer my skills to different positions because I have different experiences in different places so it’s hard to just focus on a certain job. I’m looking for a job that will let me live a balanced life. I want to spend time with my kids and husband, but I want to work too so it has to be a fit for me.
“I found a job I’m really interested in, and they said they are very flexible that they might be able to work with me on the working hours that will work for me, so that is pretty awesome to hear.”
According to their website, HOH has helped hundreds of thousands of transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses find meaningful employment through their comprehensive training and hiring events, fellowship programs and online tools.
For more information, visit their website at HiringOurHeroes.org/jblm.