July 5, 2012
Multinational Battle Group East recently provided nearly 200 deployed soldiers with valuable training to help them secure civilian employment once their deployment ends.
The program included a résumé-writing workshop and practice job interviews.
“My goal is to provide all soldiers assigned to MNBG E the best opportunity possible for employment options by the time they arrive at the demobilization station,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert Burgette, MNBG E operations sergeant major. “I don’t think we’ve accomplished this yet, but we are well on our way. Soldiers looking for employment assistance now have a solid résumé as well as some experience in selling their skills to employers through the mock interviews.”
That included teaching soldiers how to describe their military skills in ways that civilian employers will understand and value. Part of that means leaving out slang and jargon that becomes second nature for service members.
During the résumé workshop, each soldier was given a template to craft their own résumé. Advisers were standing by ready to offer assistance.
“If this was done at the demobilization station or reintegration, we feel it’s too late,” said Chap. (Capt.) Joseph Ledger, manager of the Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection. “They need to start thinking about what they’re going to do when they get home now, so they can go home to a job and not to unemployment, to better their family life.”
The Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection helps service members and their families obtain a skill trade or occupational license, further educational goals and find and sustain jobs.
WERC bridges the gap between qualified service members, their spouses and quality employers. Their stated goal is to “become the central hub for employment resources for the Wisconsin National Guard, ultimately reducing the unemployment rate among service members and families.”
After creating a résumé, each soldier then participated in a mock job interview. The interviews consisted of questions tailored to the type of position the soldier expressed interest in.
“Each soldier left with a résumé, and left with the confidence and skills needed to be more successful when conducting job interviews when they get home,” said Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Jarvis, the battle group’s training non-commissioned officer.
“I already knew I had confidence, but this gave me a little bit more confidence about my confidence,” said Spc. Anthony Tigner, a cavalry scout with the Georgia Army National Guard’s 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment. It taught him to “be prepared, just knowing the company that I’m applying for, knowing the personnel, and just knowing what answers to give and how to add a little bit more detail to those answers,” he said.
The soldiers’ résumés will be forwarded to the Department of Work Force Development Offices at the Veterans Affairs Center in each soldier’s respective state, said Burgette. The Veterans Affairs officers will use the résumés to solicit federal, state and local employment opportunities on behalf of the soldiers.
“The Army National Guard and Reserve soldier has a special quality that the rest of the soldiers in the Army don’t have,” said Burgette. “You’ve developed a unique set of skills and experience from your professional civilian occupation, which you bring with you every time you put the uniform on.
“This makes us a much more flexible force, able to adapt and succeed where others can’t,” he added. “You also bring a valuable resource to your employer that few others can. You’ve developed professionalism, leadership and a sense of duty that only those who wear the uniform will ever understand. So don’t ever quit doing what you are doing. The soldiers of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve are a key component to the life’s blood of our Nation.”
“Coming here, working one-on-one with them with this volunteer staff from Bondsteel has been amazing; I think truly, we have affected some lives through the process,” said Ledger.
The next phase of the continuing effort to help soldiers find civilian employment will be a job fair held at Camp Bondsteel. Various government agencies, military contractors and civilian companies are expected to send representatives to meet deployed soldiers in person and share job opportunities.
Story by Spc. Joshua Barnett
172nd Public Affairs Detachment