Keith Prairie likes to hire veterans because he knows what to expect – traits such as leadership, reliability, promptness and teamwork.
A LogisticsOne recruiter, he found just the kind of people he was looking for at Tuesday’s “Hiring Our Heroes” job fair, at Empire State College, where more than 100 veterans turned out to pursue opportunities from dozens of local employers.
The “Hiring Our Heroes” initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, has a goal of finding jobs for 500,000 veterans nationwide.
“A veteran understands work ethic,” said Prairie, who spent 26 years in the Navy. “They’re loyal, proud to work for a particular company and they’re very creative. That’s what I look for.”
LogisticsOne, which employs 200 people in Saratoga Springs, has several current job openings for warehouse staff, truck drivers, an account executive and brokerage administrators. Prairie found at least two good prospects on Tuesday, including a former Army truck driver who also has experience operating a forklift.
“This turned out pretty good,” he said. “At some job fairs you’re lucky to find one good person.”
Sometimes veterans don’t find jobs because they don’t realize their own potential, said John Hadley, a Ballston Spa resident and GE wind systems employee.
“They limit themselves to what they were doing in the service,” he said.
Hadley, a Navy veteran, mentors others in the GE Veterans Network program. On Tuesday, he helped job-seekers sharpen their interview skills and looked over resumes during a pre-job fair workshop session.
Marine Corps veteran David Burton came all the way from Syracuse for the event. Trained as a Harrier aircraft mechanic, he’s qualified to work on any kind of hydraulic system and might have found an opening with CSX railroad.
“I’m going to school right now,” he said. “I’m keeping my options open. If a job opened up I would take it.”
Air Force veteran Mora Gray, of Hudson Falls, said she’s looking for a customer service or administrative clerical position, perhaps at a bank.
Did the job fair help?
“Absolutely,” she said. “It was very helpful. They had quite a few employers there. All kinds of jobs were represented.”
Air Force veteran Mark Ward is human resources manager for Huff N Puff, a Schenectady-based home improvement firm. He said the military taught him many valuable lessons such as “how to take on a project and complete it,” accountability and communications skills.
Employers should consider this when filling positions because veterans quite often possess such traits more than others, Ward said.
“A veteran knows how to apply these skills to your business,” he said. “Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. They all have it.”