GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Landing a civilian job after working in the military can be a be a big challenge, especially in this uncertain economy. This week a group of unemployed veterans are learning to tailor their resumes for a special job fair in Golden.
The Military and Veterans Employment Expo is being held at Jefferson County Fairgrounds through Wednesday. For the first two days of the expo veterans are taking classes and getting tips on the best ways to go about finding employment. On the third day of the expo 76 employers will be meeting with the veterans and trying to fill a total of 1,000 jobs.
Mark Simonsen, a spokesman for the expo, said they are hoping 200 of those 1,000 jobs actually get filled at Wednesday’s job fair.
Chris Gentry has been looking for work since his tour in Iraq ended in December.
“It’s been kind of a difficult run,” said Gentry, who worked in construction before serving in the military.
Gentry was laid off before his orders to serve in Iraq came across. He came to the expo hoping that despite the fact that he doesn’t hold a college degree his military experience he might him land a good job. Gentry’s wife works, and he figures if he could get a job as well they could start a family.
“When you’re in the military you are put in pressure situations where you need to act right away. I think a lot of employers like that, that you can get a situation handed to you and you handle it in a certain amount of time. And that’s what I think the military teaches you. It teaches you to take those situations and act on them in a timely fashion,” he told CBS4.
When CBS4 was at the expo on Monday some veterans were learning how to network while others were learning the proper etiquette to use when doing job interviews.
“We’re used to a different lingo,” said Thomas Thompson, who got out of the Navy in 2008, went back to school and is now looking at employment opportunities.
Some employment experts on Monday were coaching veterans about not getting discouraged.
“A lot of them have great work experience and we just try to make it transferable into different industries and open up their mind,” said Lunka Dinmwiddie, who was working with veterans on their resumes on Monday. Dinmwiddie works for AlliedBarton Security Services.
Some veterans who come out of long stints in the military make the mistake of thinking their rank will determine how much they are paid in a civilian position. Others simply have unrealistic expectations about what kind of salary they are going to have once they’re out of the military.
“You get out and think you’re going to start making $150,000. It ain’t going to happen. Why? Because the only thing you’ve done the last 10 years is lead squadrons,” one instructor told a group of veterans on Monday.
Former troops like Gentry said all the prep work at the expo is beneficial.
“I have a resume. I just need to fine tune it and put in those little extra pieces so hopefully an employer will snatch me up,” he said.
A host of government agencies teamed up to make the expo possible, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment and the Colorado National Guard. Nonprofit agencies such as Return2Work are also expo partners.
“As the late-2011 withdrawal date of U.S. forces from Iraq approaches, more heroically discharged military personnel will require workforce-reintegration support. The Military and Veterans Employment Expo will become a key part of many veterans’ redevelopment programs,” organizers state on the event’s website.