By Kristin Molinaro, The BayonetSeptember 10, 2009
FORT BENNING, GA - "Network and network early," Vickie Washington said. "Because it's through networks and contacts you've made that you may ultimately find a job."
Vickie Washington is a senior career expo coordinator for civilianjobs.com, a job fair that brings together personnel transitioning from military service and employers seeking people with military backgrounds.
The civilianjobs.com expo will be at the Benning Conference Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 24. Companies and industries represented will include aviation, health care, law enforcement, logistics, maintenance, management, engineering and sales.
Civilianjobs.com offers an alternative to traditional job fairs by matching people with potential employers prior to the expo, Washington said.
When candidates pre-register for the expo, their information is run through a matching program to determine which employers can meet their needs in terms of job desired, location preferences and type of work, Washington said.
Then, the networking begins as links to the candidate's resume are sent to employers to review before the expo. Employers can contact candidates ahead of time to set up interviews at the job fair.
"A lot of times these employers will hire from the floor after doing on-the-spot interviews," she said. "This makes the process a lot more productive for the employers and job seekers."
Washington said this process benefits military personnel because at many job fairs it is easy to get lost in the masses, but with the civilianjobs.com expo, the employer is already aware of their qualifications if they've pre-registered, she said.
As a retired sergeant major, Washington understands what Soldiers face finding civilian employment after their military career is over.
When Washington retired from the military, she used civilianjobs.com.
"I found out about their Web site when I was going through the Army Career and Alumni Program," said Washington, who served as the senior NCO of U.S. Army Reserve public affairs. "I posted my resume on their Web site and got a call that same evening for an interview the following day. I got hired by civilianjobs.com on the spot and started my new job the following Monday."
Washington said finding a job so quickly may be the exception to the rule, but she has seen many Soldiers walk away from an expo with job offers.
"We just had a expo in Norfolk, Va., and one of the companies, U.S. Capital Police, set up interviews with their matches beforehand and did all the required testing at the expo," she said. "All of the candidates who passed the test will be direct hires if they do everything else they need to do."
"Those candidates were able to walk away knowing they may have a job when their ETS or retirement date rolls up," she said.
Mark Mills, Fort Benning's employment readiness program manager, said job fairs benefit not only those looking for jobs in the immediate future, but Soldiers who are considering getting out of the military in the next few years.
Soldiers and families can use job fairs to gauge the job market and see what benefits are available to them before they make the decision to leave the military, he said.
"It can give you a chance to talk with human relations people with these companies so you can make a good decision later on," Mills said.
The civilianjobs.com expo is open to military, family members and veterans. The deadline to pre-register and receive potential matches is Sept. 14. Registration begins at 9 a.m. the day of the expo.
For more information or to pre-register, visit www.civilianjobs.com or call 678-819-4170.