Va. ESGR provides assistance for veterans seeking jobs

Sgt. Maj. Wayne Bowser, senior enlisted adviser for Family and Employer Programs and Policy in the Pentagon’s Office of Reserve Affairs, demonstrates the ease of use for the employment assistance web portal March 14 during a job fair in Virginia Beach. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve sponsored an employment assistance workshop March 12 in Virginia Beach to help veterans looking for jobs prepare for Hiring our Heroes job fair held the following day. Both events were the result of a number of organizations joining together with a common goal of helping job seekers with military experience find new employment opportunities.

The workshop was one of three pieces of the plan for ESGR’s Employment Initiative Program, explained Kimberly Suyes, the program’s director. The first piece is employer awareness that shows companies the value of hiring veterans, the second piece is connecting job seekers with the job vacancies, and the workshop is the third piece that provides training and development to help job seekers with their employment search.

“If we make employers aware that they want to hire people with military experience, we need to train the people with military experience to be prepared for the interview and that they interview well,” she said.

In addition to helping job-seeking veterans with interview skills, the workshop also featured sessions on resume writing and job searching using the web portal. The workshop was purposely scheduled right before the job fair to help veterans put their best foot forward. “The 40 people who attended this course are really going to have a leg up at the job fair,” she said.

Suyes said that in the highly competitive job market that a job seeker with military experience has to stand out with a strong resume and interview skills, but also has to make sure they can effectively translate their military skills into terms that a civilian employer can understand. She said they hope to conduct workshops on a quarterly basis in different locations throughout Virginia.

The hiring fair for veteran job seekers was open to active duty military members, Guard and Reserve and eligible spouses and was held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. It was sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and held in partnership with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training, the Virginia Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and the Virginia Employment Commission.

The largest booth at the job fair belonged to the web portal, and Sgt. Maj. Wayne Bowser was on hand to explain how the web portal could help veterans and service members find jobs. Bowser also hosted a session on the web portal during the workshop. Bowser is the senior enlisted adviser for Family and Employer Programs and Policy in the Pentagon’s Office of Reserve Affairs.

“The big take away is learning how simple and easy it is to use to look for a job,” Bowser said.

According to the web site, it gives you “everything you need to find a job and a special mission: to THANK YOU for your service by helping you find your perfect career.”

The site is specifically designed to help “Reserve Component service members to connect to and find jobs with military-friendly companies who are looking for employees with your training and skills.” The site also helps translate military experience into terms civilian employers understand, Bowser said.

According to Regan Schutte, an administrative support technician for the Va. ESGR, the workshop received very positive feedback from the attendees. In their feedback forms, the course was characterized as “hands on and engaging” with “facilitators that were very knowledgeable.” They also received positive feedback that the course was well-tailored for veterans.

Related links:

Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program

Hero to Hired Employment Assistance Web Portal

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes web site

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve