If you ask unemployed veterans how difficult it is to get a job in the current market, some would say it’s virtually impossible. U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart is helping by trying to make finding a job “virtually” possible. USAG Stuttgart’s Army Community Service teamed up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Joining Forces Campaign to present the first-ever virtual job fair held at ACS on Panzer Kaserne March 28.
The local job fair was part of a worldwide initiative called “Hiring Our Heroes,” which has a goal of finding jobs for over 500,000 unemployed veterans. The jobless rate for veterans serving after 9/11 is almost double the national rate, averaging around 12 percent, and that jumps to 29 percent for those under the age of 25, according to an NBC News report. The report added that this problem isn’t just affecting service members. The unemployment rate for military spouses is a staggering 26 percent.
The website for the virtual job fair offered a list of more than 100 U.S. employers looking for experienced veterans for a variety of positions. Participants could click on companies they were interested in and enter a live chat to talk directly with
recruiters. If the job seeker was interested in applying for a job after speaking with them, they could submit their resume instantly on the same site.
Christi Ham, wife of Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, heard about the initiative during a conference in Washington D.C., and brought the concept back to Stuttgart. “I asked myself … what can we do for the service members and spouses overseas?” Ham said. “For some military spouses, it’s difficult to grow professionally because we pick up and move with our
service members. Anything we can do to help make it easier is nice,” she added.
More than 15,000 people worldwide signed up for the online Hiring Our Heroes job fair. Almost 4,000 resumes were posted during the event, according to a representative from Military.com, the organization that created the website for the online fair. In Stuttgart, the virtual job fair assisted more than 100 job seekers, while more than 1,000 people in Germany visited the fair’s website. The garrison also invited a dozen local companies to compliment the online portion, which appealed to people interested in finding a job in Germany.
Maj. Susan McMullen, an Air Force Reserve staff officer attached to the U.S. European Command Logistics Directorate, came to the fair with hopes of finding a job in the U.S. before her temporary duty in Stuttgart ends. “The virtual part of the fair was great,” said McMullen. “Instead of just uploading my resume, I had a chance to talk to some of the recruiters in chat rooms, which makes it more personable.” Due to the positive feedback received, the garrison will look to host similar fairs on a recurring basis in the future, and is also sharing the idea with other military communities in Europe so they can participate.
“My hope is that the seed we planted with this fair in Stuttgart will start to grow in other communities,” Ham said. The Chamber of Commerce and Military.com will
continue to host virtual fairs throughout the year. For more information, visit www.uschamber.com/hiringourheroes.
Job seekers are urged to visit the ACS Employment Readiness office, Building 2915 on Panzer Kaserne, to have their resumes reviewed by a counselor before they register for a job fair.