Military vets look for new careers at jobs fair

August 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A special job fair in San Jose on Thursday gave unemployed veterans a boost when it came to looking for work.

Between them, one couple had served in the U.S. Navy for three decades. Now they hope a two-hour drive to a career fair helps them land full time jobs.

"Just trying for, mainly, a federal position," said veteran Emily Otis, "so I can transfer a lot of my military experience over to a federal job."

Several government agencies, such as the IRS and the CIA, are represented at the Recruit Military job fair. There are also corporate employers such as Home Depot who know the value of a military resume.

"They will bring people together, get tasks down," said Home Depot's Human Resources Manager Carrie Fitzpatrick. "They work well as a team. As we are always looking for folks who have that skill set, and with the military, they generally come to us with it already ingrained."

Job fair organizers say the economy and the drawdown in Iraq make these types of targeted efforts especially important.

"We'll do 61 of these events in 34 different cities throughout 2011," said event organizer John Lundberg. "We'll keep about the same pace and same schedule for 2012."

Both recent- and long-term veterans say they appreciate the opportunity a veteran-friendly job fair provides.

"I've been out for almost a decade," said veteran Josh Calandri. "I've got a college degree."

Calandri added he drove three hours from Central California to land a job.

Goodman Air Condition specialists are one of the employers giving job seekers with military experience top priorities.

"We like putting ex-military back to work," said Shelly Johnston. "We're really loyal to them, they've done a lot for us."

Otis says both she and her fiancée made some promising connections.

"An event like this, that's specific to military families, military members," said Otis. "It's just an opportunity that I've been waiting for a while and I'm glad to be a part of it."

Recruit Military, based out of Ohio, says their events are always free to military members, veterans and their families.

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