Military spouses and retired veterans in the National Capital Region spoke with company representatives, received resume suggestions and worked on their interviewing skills during the Hiring our Heroes Military Spouse Business Alliance Career Forum at the Fort Belvoir Community Center Jan. 16.
The fair was geared towards helping military spouses find employment more easily by bringing in companies that make it a point to hire them.
"We're really proud of the men and women who serve our country. It's a way for us to give back and really honor those that have fought for our country, and their spouses," said Betsy Glazer, The Bozzuto Group corporate recruiter. "It's the right thing to do."
Coming to a job fair that has employers that won't be turned off by a military spouse is comforting for spouses, according to Noreen O'Neil, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Military Spouse Program deputy director.
"One thing they appreciate is this event is for them," said O'Neil "So, when they approach an employer, the employer isn't asking them what their Military Occupational Specialty is. That's always a positive experience."
"These employers aren't going to hold anything against you for being a military spouse," said Howell. "They aren't going to ask you directly if you are a military spouse."
Companies from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, TMC Transportation, Software Performance Group Inc., The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Pentagon Force Protection Agency, Jamison Professional Services Inc, and Bozzuto Management Company were among the 33 companies at the fair.
Glazer said one reason The Bozzuto Group likes to hire military spouses is because of the skills they acquire living in the military environment.
"The level of dedication, commitment and discipline the military looks for is what we look for in our company values," said Glazer. "We think we can find those in military spouses."
O'Neil said several spouses benefitted from companies wanting to hire military spouses. "I had one woman set up an interview about 20 minutes after getting here," said O'Neil. "She was pretty happy."
Janise Evans of Woodlawn Village noticed the emphasis on helping military spouses after speaking with a representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture who told a group of spouses specifically what they need on their resumes to get hired by the federal government.
"He was letting us know what we, as military spouses, are qualified for versus retired military," said Evans. "He also told us about the Military Spouse Preference program and how to annotate if you're a military spouse, retired, or veteran on your resume. It makes a difference whether or not it's on your resume."
The fair also offered resume critiques for spouses and retired veterans to help them format their resumes to best showcase their job skills and experience.
Laureen Dupree, Army Community Service Employment Readiness Program manager, spent the duration of the event reviewing resumes.
"We talked about targeting the resume and showcasing skills that may have been earned from volunteer work," said Dupree. "A lot of our spouses have not worked consistently, but so many of them have volunteered. Many of them have volunteered for Family Readiness Groups, been senior enlisted spouses in the unit and have provided all kinds of information referrals and other support. I talked to them about highlighting those things in their resumes."
Annemarie Randazzo-Matsel, a resident of Lewis Village, had her resume reviewed and was told how to format it for federal and civilian jobs.
"It's better to have a more detailed resume when applying for federal jobs since it's an automated search," said Randazzo-Matsel. "For commercial or private companies, keep the resume shorter and tailor it towards the specific job you are qualifying for."
Wayne McCray is a Woodbridge, Va., resident who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1986-1995 working as a support equipment mechanic. He went into ministry after retiring, and came to the fair looking to re-invent himself.
"I made a complete circle of the floor and was looking for certain jobs in certain fields. Some of them are here," said McCray. "There is one company (representative) I spoke with that deals with marketing and publications, so that was interesting to me."
McCray said he didn't know what to expect before coming to the fair, but found it to be very helpful.
"Part of the impact of this is to meet people and establish relationships," said McCray. "I was able to make some meaningful contacts, so I am pleased for the most part."