Each year, in coordination with the week of Veterans Day, Employee a Veteran Week is observed, and Friday the week will culminate with a job fair opening for veterans only in the morning at the Goodwill Career Connections center in Elkin. In the afternoon, the job fair will be open to the public.
To make the week official, Yadkinville Mayor Hubert Gregory and Mount Airy Mayor Pro Tem Steve Yokeley already have signed proclamations at their municipal board meetings, while Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens is expected to read and sign Elkin’s proclamation at Monday’s board meeting.
Kevin Hege, veterans employment consultant for the North Carolina Department of Commerce Division of Workforce Solutions, and David Monteleone, local veterans’ employment representative for the division, both are veterans who specialize in two different areas of assisting veterans to find employment.
Hege works with the veterans to make sure they find the jobs available, are prepared with resumes and interview skills, while Monteleone works with employers to find out what jobs they have available, encourage them to post jobs on the ncworks.gov website, which is a free service, and explain to them the benefits of hiring a veteran.
“As a local veteran, I got out to meet employers, encourage them to use the NC Works to post jobs and search for people who will work for their positions. It’s free,” said Monteleone, whose position covers seven counties, Surry, Yadkin, Davie, Davidson, Stokes, Forsyth and Rockingham.
“Instead of going through a private career board, NC Works is a secure website where you can go to find employment,” he said. “People need to make sure their profile is complete, because employers do look at that.”
Hege and Monteleone said while the military is getting better at getting soldiers’ internal job skills and matching them up with certificates which can be used in outside world applications, such as CDLs and EMT certifications, in many cases veterans still come out of the military with a wide skill set, but not necessarily the certifications needed to back those up.
“The purpose of Hire a Veteran week is to shine a little more light on them who need employment. They may not have all the certificates, but they have the work experience,” said Monteleone. “They have the military service that can easily convert to work.”
As a former recruiter, Monteleone explained that he had the human resources experience of years of recruiting, but when he retired from the military, he didn’t have the degree or certificates for human resources.
“By hiring a veteran they are getting someone well-trained, well-educated, dedicated and they may qualify for tax credits,” said Monteleone. “The tax credit depends on the veteran and the veteran’s status and how long they’ve been out. They can go to the Department of Labor’s site to enter a veteran’s information to see if they qualify.”
In addition to the work opportunity tax credit available for hiring a qualifying veteran, Hege said there is a federal bonding tax credit which covers an employer hiring a former offender as well.
Friday’s job fair for veterans only will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Goodwill Career Connections center, 1457 N. Bridge St., Elkin, with coffee and doughnuts offered for the veterans. After a short break, the job fair will open to the public from 1 to 3 p.m., but Hege said if job candidates are still coming in at 3 p.m., it could last longer.
There is no advanced registration required for the job fair. Hege said those looking for employment can just show up.
“We’ve had job fairs with 50 to 60 people and employers have been pleased because they’ve got good applicants, and we’ve had fairs with more than 100,” Hege said. “There are jobs out there.”
Employers who will be at the fair and are actively seeking employees include Lowe’s of Elkin, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, SODEXO, Blue Rhino, Pittsburgh Glass Works, Sonic, Living Waters, Workforce Unlimited, Carl Rose & Sons, CAOTTI, Pruitt Health Care, ITT Tech in High Point, Weyerhaeuser, Austin Company, Wayne Farm, Insteel and Unifi.
There also will be a room set up for outreach partners including Surry/Yadkin Veterans Employment Representatives, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc., Department of Workforce Solutions and Goodwill.
Sponsors of the job fair include Goodwill, Division of Workforce Solutions and the Piedmont Triad Regional Council.
“A veteran can be anybody,” said Monteleone. “I would say age 20 and up. I’ve had veterans in the upper 60s or 70s range looking for employment. Even if it’s a young veteran who might have a disability, we try to find them a job within their skill set.”
Hege and Monteleone said those attending Friday’s job fair should bring copies of their resumes and dress to impress. There will be areas set up for those who need to to sit down and fill out applications.
“I prep my veterans for job fairs,” Hege said. “You’ve got about a minute and a half to sell yourself, so I coach them on that.”
He said his office, which is located in the Career Connections office in Mount Airy on West Pine Street, formerly the Unemployment Security Commission office, has opportunities available for training like resume writing, interview skills and more.
“Job hunting can be frustrating. That’s why we’re here,” Hege said.
Veterans seeking jobs can reach out to Hege for assistance by calling 336-786-4169 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Employers who are looking for a few good men and women to employee can reach out to Monteleone at 336-776-6790 or email@example.com.
For more information on Friday’s job fair, call Hege or 336-526-2144.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.