Mission For Recruiters: Stepping Up to Support Returning Troops

Last month 2800 NJ National Guard and Reserve troops returned home to NJ from Afghanistan and Iraq after a 9 month deployment.

Families in NJ were especially grateful because the mission was carried off without a fatality. The troops were greeted with applause, parades and many thanks.

Missing in the equation however was the fact that the troops were gone during an economic meltdown and many returned without a job.

Not fully knowing what career assistance was needed or, whether any help was needed at all, Sherrill Curtis, a volunteer leader on the SHRM NJ State Council ( responsible for Workforce Readiness initiatives) got involved.

The timing was right and the needs turned out to be extensive.

Partnering with a NJ military transition firm, Tip of the Arrow Foundation, Sherrill pulled together volunteers, resources and support in record time. The result is a 2-day event planned for July 29 and 30 at NJ’s largest military base, Ft. Dix.

More than 900 military men and women have already registered and 1200 are expected by the time the event takes place. Hundreds of career coaches, recruiters and HR professionals in NJ voluntered with just a few calls and emails to individually counsel each attendee on the first day.

Workshops and employer panels are also scheduled to focus on tactics for networking and using technology in the job search.

The second day is a job fair (free to NJ employers with jobs) that is totally booked.

We’re now developing a Linkedin group as a follow-on to the event where troops can share their job hunting experiences, support one another and “out” the firms they have targeted who are slow to offer an interview. (This way recruiter volunteers can help break down a few doors-as appropriate to help folks get up to bat if they are qualified).

I know Sherrill and her new found military friends are planning to document the event and its value so others hopefully can use it as a template and develop thier own initiative.

If you get a chance, thank Sherrill.

I appreciate her work and the efforts of the many volunteers in HR, Staffing and Career Services communities. It is a pleasure to support them.

My son, a newly commissioned second Lt in the NJ National Guard who was in active service during the first Iraq war and who will likely be again deployed next year is also a fan.

We need to give more PR to the outstanding work that is being done by individual firms like Sodexho, Lockheed Martin, and many many more who reach out to military in transition. What is also needed however is the local and regional programming support for returning vets who are targeting firms that may not have gotten the word but with a nudge will give vets a chance to get to bat..