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Former military can benefit from area job/career fairs

November 12, 2018

For military veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce, the job search process may initially appear to be a bit daunting.

For Houston-area job seekers, however, there are plenty of opportunities and resources available to make the process a little easier. One option is consulting a staffing agency that specifically caters to veterans and attending its job fair events.

Gulf Coast Workforce Board — Workforce Solutions has 24 offices across the region, and all are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Although the company just held its most recent job fair for veterans and has yet to schedule the next one, manager of strategic planning Michelle Ramirez Castrow encourages veterans looking for a new or better job to come at any time if they need additional assistance specific to them.

“We have veteran representatives in most of our offices, and many are veterans themselves are working as employment counselors,” she said.

According to Castrow, candidates should bring a current resume and be prepared to tell recruiters what their relevant skills are.

“You should be able to communicate how you can transfer your skills earned during your military service into civilian terminology to make yourself stand out to recruiters using the terms they’re looking for,” she said. “Come prepared with a quick elevator pitch where you encapsulate in 30 seconds or less what you can bring to a company to benefit that employer.”

According to Castrow, in today’s day and age, candidates are unlikely to get on-the-spot job offers at job fairs.

“The whole purpose of going is to network and make human connections,” she said. “Most companies have some sort of online application to manage online applications and their candidate pool. The advantage of going to a job fair is to talk to company representatives and get feedback from them. The biggest advice we can offer is to do your homework: find out who will be there, identify positions you are interested in, and ask questions of the people you meet to help you make your application stand out when you apply.”

Castrow said veterans come with a lot of skills that are applicable among a lot of industries; where they would best fit depends on their interests and the work they did in the service. In Houston, specifically, there are a lot of relevant opportunities in petrochemical manufacturing and health care. Many veterans also often go into administrative and corporate-type positions.

“In general, veterans in the Houston area tend to be more educated than average,” Castrow said. “They’re great candidates, and anyone looking for job just needs to connect their relevant skills and match what they’ve already done to the opportunities available to them in the area.”

In addition to the technical skills they can bring to the civilian workforce, veterans also should point out some of the transferrable essential workplace skills they can bring, such as teamwork, the ability to understand and follow directions, leadership skills, and the ability to communicate, Castrow said.

“These skills will make them incredibly attractive candidates,” she said.

A national staffing agency with an office in the Galleria area, Lucas Group — launched in 1970 — initially served as a military recruiting and head-hunting firm. Its staff includes Houston military transition recruiters who work to place qualified professionals in post military jobs in Houston and across Texas.

Lucas Group works with companies of all sizes to identify and hire highly skilled, experienced and capable leaders who are transitioning into civilian careers.

Lucas Group’s job fair events are by invitation only, as they serve to carry out one-on-one pre-set interviews with candidates and managers or human resources representatives. Companies contact Lucas Group with the positions they have available, where they’re located, what the candidate background requirements are and what the compensation range is.

For veterans, these opportunities include positions for maintenance managers, engineers, sales positions, electrical technicians, mechanical technicians and several other hands-on positions. The company is currently working on its schedule for job fair events for 2019.

“A lot of people get out of the military having never interviewed for a job before,” said Richard Vidoli, managing partner, Lucas Group. “Our main goal is to make sure we’re not wasting their or a company’s time pursing a job or candidate they’re not ultimately interested in.”

To get started and be able to attend one of these events, prospective candidates should call or email Lucas Group. The company will work with them 90 days to a year before a hiring event to profile them and make sure they have an honorable discharge.

The recruiter will then find out where the candidate desires to live, what they want to do and what their desired compensation range is.

From there, candidates will work with the recruiter to perfect their resume and necessary forms to be fully prepared for their one-on-one meeting at the job fair event. This preparation will also include about two hours of interview preparation to help candidates not make easily avoidable mistakes. After the event, Lucas Group will review the company’s feedback about each client to be able to set up final interviews.

“These services are free to military veterans and they have no obligation to continue working with us,” Vidoli said. “If for whatever reason we are unable to help them, we will always let them know.

“Military veterans are dependable people who known to be on time and ready 100 percent of the time,” he said. “They’re great leaders and if, for example, you put them in a production line, quality assurance or engineering role, you’ll end up with one of the best employees available in the market, one who will have completely different experience than someone who is just straight out of high school or a technical school graduate. The military prepares you more for what life brings than a college education on its own would, and that’s where companies win.”

Further details

For more information about Gulf Coast Workforce Board — Workforce Solutions, visit www.wrksolutions.com. To get started by submitting an application to work with a recruiter at Lucas Group, visit www.lucasgroup.com.

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