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Event pushes hiring vets

BY ALLIE JOHNSON | MARCH 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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No one hired Greg Clark when he came home in 1999 after 17 years of active duty.

The 45-year-old had worked as a submarine officer and had one year at the United Nations as a military observer on the Iraq-Kuwait border.

Clark had witnessed the death of a fellow soldier and faced post-traumatic stress disorder. However, neither were the source of his inability to get a job.

“I didn’t know what kind of skills employers were looking for … but many of these skills I have done,” he said.

He tried finding a job at several major government contractors in Iowa City, he said, but none would hire him.

He then decided to create the Veterans’ Transferable Skills Matrix, an organized sheet explaining veterans’ most common skills.

Clark spoke Tuesday in front of more than 20 employers at the Iowa City National Guard Armory.

The event was the first session of a four-part webinar series about human-relations issues surrounding soldiers, military members, and veterans.

During the webinar, Lisa Rosser, the founder of “The Value of a Veteran,” spoke from a computer about the advantages and benefits of hiring former soldiers. Her website provides resources for professionals looking to hire veterans.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of an employer you are,” Rosser said. “At the end of the day … veterans have the skills you need and are an under-tapped resource with a huge pipeline.”

Rosser said employers sometimes think veterans don’t have necessary skills for a certain job.

However, she noted 81 percent of military jobs have a direct civilian equivalent.

“CEOs have never served in the military, so they have no knowledge of what they do,” Rosser said.

Rosser said employers can decipher résumés by going to O*Net, an online tool for career exploration and job analysis. It can help them cross-reference their hiring needs with military skills.

Lyra Dickerson, the UI senior assistant director of Human Resources and director of merit employment services, said university policy requires departments to explain their reasons for not selecting a veteran if he or she isn’t hired.

“[The seminar] is a good way to educate [employers] and a good resource to hire veterans,” Dickerson said. “A lot of people don’t have family members, relatives, or neighbors that have experienced military experience. This forum is very important.”

Mark Hennessey, a technical recruiting supervisor for Vangent Inc., an information management and outsourcing services firm, said he sees advantages to hiring veterans. His company has placed additional human-resources staff across Iowa to get a better understanding of the practice of hiring veterans, he said.

“You look at someone who is coming out of the service who has the experience of project management that your average individual would not get,” Hennessey said.


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