Fort Gordon job fair strives to find 'Paychecks for Patriots'

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Frederick Lloyd knows the secret to successfully landing a job at a career fair.

“You always have to act like a free agent, versatile to whatever opportunity may present itself,” said Lloyd, as he straightened his tie and entered the Fort Gordon Army Reserve Center with a portfolio of freshly printed resumes.

Lloyd, who holds a masters degree in organizational management, was one of thousands of veteran and civilian job seekers who tested free agency Thursday in the state’s workforce during the Georgia Department of Labor’s Paychecks for Patriots Career Expo.

Though the event was open to all job seekers, state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the expos, also held in Atlanta, Columbus, Savannah and Warner Robins, were mainly focused on his initiative to address employment needs and challenges facing as many as 80,000 veterans expected to return to Georgia in the next four years.

Butler said his staff teamed up with the Tennessee Department of Labor, the Georgia National Guard, the Technology Association of Georgia, the U.S Economic Development Administration, the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, and corporate host Dollar General to make the goal a reality.

“We owe it to them to do everything we can to assist them,” Butler said. “We’re committed to giving them the highest level of dedication.”

The 42 employers at the Fort Gordon expo said the commitment was not hard to fulfill.

“The level of degree of veterans is impressive,” said Darrell Carson, a retired Marine and military business development representative for the Art Institutes.

After attending a veteran job fair at Fort Knox in Kentucky on Wednesday, Carson said he has learned several new terms in less than 24 hours.

“MPA?” Carson asked, as he spoke with Fort Gordon Sgt. 1st Class Edward Bryant.

“Masters of Public Administration,” Bryant said of the degree he hopes to have in the next four months. “It covers the government side of business administration.”

Carson and Bryant agreed veteran job fairs are superior to civilian ones.

Carson said employers tend to get older and more qualified applicants who have more than a high school diploma or GED. Bryant said job seekers are provided with a broader spectrum of fields from which to choose and salary that’s more competitive than introductory pay grades.

“I want a job that pays higher than entry,” Bryant said. “Something with growth potential.”

Bob Ravener, the executive vice president for Dollar General, the lead corporate sponsor for Paychecks for Patriots in both Georgia and Tennessee, said his company strived to bring national corporations, such as Auto Zone, Bank of America, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, to the expos, on the condition they were willing to take applications, conduct interviews and connect with veterans.

The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) said it worked “diligently” to recruit technology companies across the state to expand the number of participating employers for service members and veterans.

“At a time when soldiers are looking for their next destination, we want to make sure they know all that Georgia has to offer in the way of opportunities and success,” said Tino Mantella, the TAG president.

While Bryant said he would be willing to relocate for sales and adjunct professor positions offered Thursday at the Art Institute of Atlanta and Kansas City, the Georgia Department of Labor said they understood the desire of some Fort Gordon soldiers to stay local.

That’s why they invited Van Langham, human resources officer at Two State Roofing in Thomson.

In the first 90 minutes, Langham said he had landed a job for a Fort Gordon soldier to become a welder for his company.

“We actively try to recruit from the military,” Langham said. “They deserve something for the service they provided our country.”

“Plus,” he said. “They have very disciplined work ethics.”

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bclicious 10/18/13 - 05:28 am
Problem with job fair in general

I am veteran, and I have had a chance to test out a couple of veteran job fairs in the past year. In addition; I have several fellow combat veterans who have also tried out these job fairs. As kind-hearted as these job fairs are; I have almost never seen any jobs produced from the fairs that I have attended, or my fellow combat vets.

Don't get me wrong; I am ever grateful that my community, state, and country are trying, but from start to finish, I don't think too many jobs are actually being produced for veterans when speaking of these veteran hiring events. I wish I could provide you with some hard stats, but I don't think anyone is tracking those statistics.

I know that there are a lot of organizations (government & private) that claim to be veteran friendly, but I honestly feel as though that most organizations just say that as a kind of public relations move. With that in mind; there are several programs through the federal government that have mandated preferential programs by law that have to give you additional consideration for just being one of a few categories: VEOA (veteran in general), VRAP (10% or more disabled veteran), ACAP (Army Career and Alumni Program for those who are currently transitioning out of the Army. I am sure other branches have similar programs). Also, I am sure there are a few other programs, but I don't know them all.

With all of this in mind; I do think that job fairs have their place in general. I feel that these veteran job fairs are best suited for someone who is fresh to the job market, and has absolutely no idea where to get started. At most of the job fairs thus far, there seem to be just as many, if not more resume building and career counseling organizations than actual employers. Those organizations are great for newbies. Also, even though it appears that most organizations are not really doing any actual hiring at the event, or perhaps even post-event, by newbies talking to potential employers, it helps them to begin to understand all the things that they did not know about today's job market.

Guys, don't get me wrong; I am proud to be a disabled combat veteran, and I don't really need a job, but I always like to test out the proverbial waters in the job market, and it appears that things are not looking good for today's vets. I am just ashamed to meet all these young and highly skilled veterans who cannot find any form of employment whatsoever. Yes; I mean nothing! I know that our economy is in slumps, but we cannot afford as a country to take generations of soldiers, and merely have them all make due on the streets. As a seasoned law enforcement professional, I am absolutely sure that a percentage of these highly skilled veterans will eventually be absorbed into the gang elements, and then we will have an even bigger problem.

TrukinRanger 10/18/13 - 06:46 am
So Dollar General is striving

So Dollar General is striving to bring corporations like Walmart, Auto Zone, McDonalds and Bank of America to the job fairs too. Let's set those sights really high. Maybe while they're at it they should get the staffing companies in on it too. Perhaps with these being veterans they should be courting companies like Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Boeing.

soapy_725 10/18/13 - 07:27 am
We just identified 35% as non essential and proceed to hire more

It is, as the BBC said, all a American charade. Something Americans do every few years. A game the colonist play.

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