Veterans went job hunting Thursday, with many interested in the emerging natural gas and wind power industries. About 50 international corporations, local companies and government agencies converged at the Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center for the city's second RecruitMilitary career fair this year. The companies were looking for potential employees with specific skills possessed by many military veterans. RecruitMilitary Senior Vice President Larry Slagel said the company estimates about 15 to 20 percent of the more than 350 veterans who attended Wednesday's event will receive job offers. "When you get out of the military, it's very hard to market yourself,” Slagel said. "I'm a former Marine officer, and when I got out, I struggled with what I could bring to corporate America.”
What they bring to tableSiegel said he found that military veterans have intangible advantages over other potential employees because of the veterans' teamwork experience, leadership skills and timeliness. The veterans visiting the career fair included a mix of early and late career military men and women. Some were nearing retirement and looking for entrepreneurial opportunities, and others were looking for their first nonmilitary career. Gene Shiflett, who is stationed at Tinker Air Force base and runs radar equipment on AWACs, has been in the military for more than 20 years and is nearing retirement. He came to the career fair to learn about careers of all types.
Life after militaryZach Kern has been stationed at the Air Force base for five years and wanted to learn about opportunities in the energy sector. "The natural gas industry really interests me,” Kern said after visiting with a representative from Chesapeake Energy. Turner Brothers, a local trucking and heavy equipment company, was looking for employees with commercial drivers licenses to drive its trucks and other heavy equipment. Military veterans, particularly Army veterans, often have commercial drivers licenses. But the main reason Turner Brothers came to the career fair was to find employees for its new wind farm construction division, a company representative said. "The wind power is growing very fast,” said Judy Hawkins, who works in human resources for Turner Brothers.
U.S. Border Patrol agent Lee Jayroe talks with Brian Frutchey as he fills out a job application during the RecruitMilitary career fair at the Coca-Cola Events Center. By CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN