A job fair for veterans, transitioning military personnel and their spouses attracted hundreds of job-seekers and more than seventy employers to State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Thursday.
The hiring and recruitment event, hosted by national veteran-assistance organizations RecruitMilitary and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), connected an estimated five hundred attendees with a wide range of potential employers including the City of Phoenix, Boeing and Wells Fargo.
Heidi Miller, an event organizer with RecruitMilitary and a U.S. Army veteran, said such opportunities can be critical for transitioning military personnel who may be uneasy about the future.
“I know even for myself, when transitioning straight out of the military, it was hard to know exactly where you fit and what would be the best next step,” said Heidi Miller, an event organizer with RecruitMilitary.
That’s a sentiment that was echoed by Benjamin Nicks, a former U.S. Army sergeant who served for five years before he was honorably discharged due to medical injuries.
“Once you first get out and start looking for employment, it’s nerve-wracking,” he said. “The journey has been quite interesting—it’s not easy transitioning out.”
With a family to support, Nicks said he wasn’t just looking to work for any company—he said he wants to find a company that will treat him like family and utilize his leadership skills.
“I’m here looking for a career, and some of these people have that,” he said.
The career fair came in the wake of a new employment report from the U.S Department of Labor, which reported a national veteran unemployment rate of 3.7 percent in January 2019. That’s the lowest the rate has been since 2001, and is even lower than the unemployment rate for non-veterans, which was 4.3 percent in January 2019.
There are nearly twenty million veterans nationwide, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That report also lists Arizona as the 13th-highest-ranked state in terms of the number of veterans, with about 500 thousand of them living in the state.
Miller said she believes that veterans have a lot to offer most companies, making them an attractive option for potential employers.
“If you’re looking for someone who will show up on time, in the right uniform, ready to go, veterans are the clientele that you want,” she said.
The demand for veteran employees, Miller said, can be seen not only by the number of employers at the career fair, but also the number of recruiters some of these companies brought with them. For example, Pepsi/Frito-Lay came with 12 different recruiters, she said.
In addition to in-person recruiting events, RecruitMilitary and DAV post job listings for veterans online. Miller claimed they have over 200,000 positions across the nation posted on their online job board that veterans can apply for.
“Companies are wanting veterans,” she said. “There’s a low supply and high demand.”