Organizers of The American Legion "Hiring Our Heroes" veterans job fair in Minneapolis were enthusiastic about both the turnout and the character of the recruiting event Saturday during The American Legion National Convention.
"This was our first fair in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and it went really well," said Joe Sharpe, the Legion's Economic Division director. "About 350 job seekers signed up for the fair, and I think nearly everybody showed up, even though it was very nice day outside and we were competing with the Minnesota State Fair. Plus, we maxed out on employers with all spaces filled."
More than 60 employers were represented; many of them were local and regional. "That shows how the Chambers of Commerce worked," said Sharpe. "The U.S. Chamber worked with local ones here to get a really good turnout of Minnesota-based companies."
High-tech industries, service companies, large and small manufacturers, and government agencies were among those offering a wide variety of positions ranging from information technology and sales to hands-on mechanical repair.
Retired state trooper Dennis Lazenberry, now recruiting for the Minnesota State Patrol, was typical of employers in his enthusiasm for the event and the job seekers who attended. "I've been very pleased with the kind of mature and diverse candidate that I've been talking with - men and women," he said. "They have great backgrounds. Some are still active in the Guard and Reserve - and we're very Guard and Reserve friendly - and they have a certain experience base that we think would make good state troopers."
As to how recruits from the military compare with civilian candidates, Lazenberry said, "Ultimately, they have to do the same job, but the one thing the military candidate has is their ability to work with people, resolve conflict and work in a decision making process. These are all qualities - plus self control - that make them great for this job."
"Those same qualities make veterans great for any job," added Sharpe.
The "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair was one of scores of such events sponsored throughout the year by the Legion.