With a population of about 10,000, Celina, Ohio, is the quintessential small Midwestern town, but it's not short on veterans and companies that have job openings to fill.
On April 22, Hiring Our Heroes brought one of its signature career fairs to Legion Post 210 in rural western Ohio, hoping to connect some of these employers with nearby veterans who are looking for work. A joint effort of The American Legion and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the event welcomed about 20 employers that are local, national and even worldwide to the confines of the post. And with them they brought more than 100 job openings, some of which event organizers and employers present say were ready to be filled on location.
"There are more than 100 job openings available in this room," said Tom Faller, judge advocate for Ohio's second district and event organizer. "I think we probably have more job openings (in Celina) than some smaller metropolitan areas."
Faller says that the flux in hiring in the area is due largely to two new businesses which have recently set up shop there. Last month, Ferguson Enterprises, a wholesale distributor of plumbing supplies, opened a 400,000-square foot distribution center in Celina. And Perham Egg Ohio opened a plant in the area, bringing with it 30 job openings, Faller says.
Perham, which mechanizes the process of separating yolks from eggs for purposes of making egg white products, was present at the career fair, accepting résumés and meeting job candidates for positions that they were ready to fill. They were flanked by employers which included AutoZone, Crown Equipment Corporation and several governmental organizations.
Debbie Besser, recruiting manager for Crown, was there representing the multinational corporation which specializes in producing the high-quality "lift trucks" that are a staple of the material handling industry. She said the company has positions to fill throughout its corporate structure, including information technology, engineering, manufacturing, leadership and sales.
"We’re here, driving them to our talent pipeline," Besser said.
Crown is a frequent attendee at Hiring Our Heroes career fairs, Besser says, because the events allow her company to draw from a diverse talent pool of individuals who have learned important skills in the military.
"They have great transferable skills and it is a great opportunity for our company," Besser said.
In addition to featuring hire-ready companies like Crown, the career fair, which was open to veterans, servicemembers and their families, hosted a résumé-writing workshop beforehand which invited attendees to learn the finer points of writing a compelling résumé, selling yourself during an interview, and nailing the ever-important "elevator pitch." At the workshop, organizers from the event sat down with attendees and reviewed résumés, point by point, helping fine tune them so they stand out among the stack.
"They can bring the résumé they worked on up here and present it to employers," said Julie Russell, regional event planner for Hiring Our Heroes.
The system has proved successful, Russell says, as veterans and their family members have been hired in large number at Hiring Our Heroes events over the years.
“(Hiring Our Heroes) has been going on for three years, and over the three years we’ve had over 700 fairs and over 20,000 veterans and spouses hired," Russell says. "These are documented numbers."