When seeking civilian employment, experience in a particular Military Occupational Specialty code, Air Force Specialty Codes or Navy rating are not nearly as important as the skills common to nearly all military veterans, say corporate recruiters.
"We want people with coaching and leadership skills, which seem to be predominant in military personnel," said Patricia Landay, senior recruiter for Capital One. "The best thing about veterans is that they do what they say they'll do."
Landay was one of several dozen representatives from a variety of industries at the Heroes to Hometowns Veterans Career Fair in Washington Thursday. The event kicked off The American Legion's Washington Conference week, which continues through next Wednesday.
During the day-long event co-sponsored by The American Legion and RecruitMilitary, Landay and fellow human-resources professionals emphasized the advantage military veterans have over their civilian job-seeking counterparts.
"I have seen many graduates coming straight out of college with great academic qualifications and not doing well in managing a branch office, for instance, because they don't know how to lead," she said. "And it's not just in that environment. If you're a project manager, you have to be able to coach and lead the members of your team to success – to motivate them to accomplish what needs to be done. And isn't that what you do in the military, even at the very basic levels? If you're responsible for a squad you've got to lead them, motivate them. That's what the military teaches."
TA few companies featured at the job fair included Lockheed-Martin, Pratt & Whitney and Raytheon who were there seeking IT professionals, engineers and project managers. Meanwhile, Bird Technologies demonstrated a super high-tech radio frequency capture device that can decode heretofore secure communications, and they were looking for a product manager to sell the secret-busting machine to the military and government agencies.
Snap-On, the hand tool franchiser, was there, too, as were Home Depot, CarMax, Amtrak, the USDA, FDA, TSA and VA, several colleges, a county emergency services agency, several financial services providers and a few companies in the consulting, solutions and outsourcing businesses.
For veterans who came home from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking to go back to the Middle East, one recruiter offered jobs in Dubai and another in the United Arab Emirates. For those who miss wearing a military uniform, the National Guard sent a sergeant.
Joe Sharpe, director of the Legion's Economic Division and organizer of the event, called the event a success. "Despite the nation's high jobless rate, the enthusiastic support shown by the knowledgeable recruiters at the career fair proves that, as employees, veterans are in high demand," he said.