Job fair helps metro Atlanta veterans find jobs, interact with employers

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium presented by RecruitMilitary

Hundreds of metro Atlanta veterans turned out at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a job fair focused on them.

RecruitMilitary, a national organization aimed at helping veterans and their families find employment, gave veterans a chance to interact with about 70 different potential employers at the Thursday event.

Because Atlanta is considered a big market for veterans, Allen Von Plinsky, event director for RecruitMilitary, said the group tries to host about two to three job fairs in the area to help those looking for a job.

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The goal is for veterans to walkout with a job offer, but Von Plinsky hopes they also learn to interact with potential employers.

“We hope that they also gain confidence in engaging with clients more than anything,” he said. “Not everybody is going to walk out the door with a job probably, but the big thing is that they learn how to engage with them, how they dress, how they work, walk and talk and how to navigate that hiring process.”

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Von Plinsky, who served in the U.S. Army from 2005 to 2010, said veteran employment nationally is actually better than civilian employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for all veterans in 2021 was 4.4%, which was lower than the rate for nonveterans at 5.3%.

Although the unemployment rate is lower, some veterans still struggle to find employment.

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Ashley Banks medically retired from the Army in February. Since then, she has been looking for a job to join the civilian workforce.

“I was in the Army for 11 years and I didn’t realize how big of a transition it was going to be. I’ve been out seven months, I thought I would automatically get a job but that has not been happening,” Banks said.

Luckily, Banks said, there are a lot of resources, such as RecruitMilitary, to keep her motivated as she continues to look for a job.

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Aaron Poulin, who retired in 2019 after 20 years in the Army, arrived Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium wearing a suit and looking for a job at a place that values his skills and work ethic.

“I’m looking for an opportunity where I can be meaningful and still get a good feeling at the end. If there is something out there I can be a benefit for and it’s worthwhile, then definitely going to look at it,” he said.

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Some of the employers looking to hire veterans at the job fair included law enforcement agencies, banks and construction companies. Cobb County Sheriff’s Office investigator and recruiter Kristine Sahms said veteran job fairs allow them to get the word out more easily and actually meet potential candidates and talk to them about the jobs.

“To actually see the people, get to know them a little bit better, to see if they actually are a good fit for your agency, it’s definitely worth coming down,” Sahms said. “Most of them are already trained; we are just going to teach them the law and how to apply it.”

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Von Plinsky said they hope to have around 90 events nationwide this year and go up to 100 events next year throughout the country. This year, RecruitMilitary has hosted 44 veteran career fairs, providing 2,400 exhibitors access to more than 16,000 veteran candidates.