Legion, Hiring Our Heroes present job fair in conjunction with Washington Conference
Approximately 300 job-seeking veterans, transitioning servicemembers and military spouses linked with over 50 employers at the National Capital Region Hiring Fair on Feb. 28. The event, presented by The American Legion and Hiring Our Heroes, was held at the Washington Hilton in conjunction with the Legion’s annual Washington Conference.
“We were all where you’re at today at some point in our lives. I personally know how each of you are feeling about looking for the right opportunity, looking for the right job that hopefully will become a career,” said Jay Bowen, chairman of the Legion’s Veterans Employment & Education Commission. “So I encourage you to continue to network … you never know what that dream job is going to look like, or where it’s coming from, until you talk with the people.”
Department of D.C. Commander Tweila Rochelle-Cauthen noted that she didn’t have access to events like this when she left the Marines in the early 1990s.
“I’m so grateful that we have time such as this, that you’re able to come and have access to resources,” she said.
Among those seeking employment at the event was Jacob McDonald, who will retire this fall from the U.S. Army. His primary mission Tuesday was getting feedback from employers.
“A lot of the advice I’ve received from the folks I’ve talked to as I prepare for retirement has been, ‘Hey, get out to the job fairs, practice your pitch, talk to the people, go network,’ and so even if I don’t find anything here, that’s what I’m trying to do, that’s my goal — to just build that network, find the people and get advice and be proactive and move forward,” McDonald said.
“I’m right at the beginning of this process. You don’t know what you don’t know, so really I’m just looking for advice. I’m looking for, ‘Hey, work on this or improve this,’ or ‘You may want to think about changing this on your resume.’ Many of the different types of advice I’ve already received, but it never hurts to get more feedback,” added McDonald, who hopes to continue in mass communication because of his experience in public affairs in the Army. “My master’s is in marketing and PR, so … I want to keep talking to people, I want to keep doing crisis comms, because that’s something I’ve built a career on, that’s something I enjoy.”
The event included employers of all sizes, including Georgetown Protective Services, a 2 ½ year old private security firm.
“We’re a disabled veteran-run organization, my boss is former Army, I’m former Air Force, so we love hiring veterans. That’s why events like this, just happy to be here and be a part of,” said Kristopher Parrish, the firm’s chief operating officer.
Parrish said the professionalism they display are the main factor why his firm wants to hire veterans.
“It’s a lot of your core values that you had when you’re in the service, it carries over to the job, because if you get a client and you disrespect them, you’re unprofessional, they’re never going to call again. We can’t have that. So it helps us when you’re professional and you basically win them over with kindness, it just goes a long way,” Parrish said. “And veterans, we know you’re going to be on time for work, you’re going to do the job real well.”
In addition to the hiring fair, job seekers were able to attend several workshops, focusing on how to translate military skills on a civilian resume, how to prepare the optimal resume for federal internship and job application requirements, and how to be financially literate with budgeting and long-term investing.