Hiring event connects transitioning Soldiers, vets to employers

Prospective employers interview transitioning service members Oct. 26 at the Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program Employer Day and Hiring Event. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr.)

Sgt. Magdalena McMillon, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Radiology Department at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center, is planning to separate from the Army.

Fluent in Polish, German and Russian, McMillon hopes to land a civilian job as a linguist.

As part of her job search, McMillon attended the Fort Meade Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program Employer Day and Hiring Event on Oct. 26.

“It was a good event for me,” said McMillon after interviewing with potential employers. “I had a lot of feedback from people who were interested in my skills.”

The quarterly event was held at McGill Training Center.

“The purpose of this event is to connect employers with transitioning service members entering the civilian workforce,” said Felicia A. Seals-Hilliard, the Fort Meade Transition Services specialist.

Seals-Hilliard assists in the management and operation of Fort Meade’s SFL-TAP.

SFL-TAP is “responsible for providing Soldiers with the counseling, employment and education workshops, and seminars required to prepare and connect Soldiers to ensure the greatest opportunities for successful personal and career achievement upon transition from active duty,” according to the program’s website.

“Our mission is to provide transitioning service members with the tools needed to find viable civilian employment,” Seals-Hilliard said. “We facilitate value-added workshops, seminars and the Employer Day event.

“Our goal is to help each transitioning service member seeking employment find a job matching their career and personal desires.”

About 18 employers and 55 job applicants participated in the two-hour hiring event that was open to all transitioning service members.

The key difference between a job fair and last week’s hiring event is that employers at a hiring event must have immediate and projected openings.

“They are expected to interview all qualified candidates and offer contingent employment to those deemed highly qualified and a perfect match for their companies,” Seals-Hilliard said.

Dwayne Clark, president of Clark Creative Solutions, a Baltimore-based company that provides personnel support to government defense agencies, said he participated in the event to find qualified job applicants who are veterans.

“We only hire veterans, so that speaks for itself,” said Clark, a veteran who served 16 years with the Army and separated from Fort Meade. “I’m a veteran, so I take care of veterans first. They sacrifice so much more than anyone.”

Clark said he was looking for intelligence analysts and logistical support job candidates to work at the Pentagon and Aberdeen Proving Ground.

“So far, I’ve had a couple of pretty good interviews with a couple of Soldiers,” he said.

Donald Moon is a technical recruiter at KEYW, a software engineering system company based in Hanover that is a contractor for the National Security Agency. The company finds eligible job candidates for positions at the NSA.

“We hope to hire from this event,” said Moon, who was recruiting for software developers, system engineers, network engineers, information system security officers and technical trainers.

Job candidates for the NSA must have a full-scope polygraph clearance or counterintelligence polygraph clearance.

The requirement for a high-level security clearance makes finding qualified job applicants more difficult, Moon said.

“Every technical company is having a difficult time now finding people,” he said.

Moon said the process for obtaining a high-level security clearance has changed due to a more stringent questionnaire. Employees who had a high-level security clearance that expired may not qualify under the new questionnaire.

As a result, Moon said there has been about a 40 percent reduction in the pool of qualified and available job applicants.

“Hopefully, we will be able to recruit people [here] right out of the military who have the clearance that we need,” he said.

Seals-Hilliard said a high-level security clearance is not a problem for the job candidates at this event.

“The majority of our SFL-TAP clients are required to have clearances because of their military occupations and organizations they work in,” she said. “Employers want dedicated, disciplined, skilled, cleared and loyal employees. We have the golden key to access those clients.”

John Salazar, a recruiter for the defense contractor Leidos, hires job applicants for the Department of Homeland Security, NSA, Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Information Security Agency.

Salazar said the event is critical for finding qualified job applicants — particularly veterans.

“We make it an issue to come out and hire our veterans,” he said. “It’s a priority for us. About 25 percent our workforce is former military.”

Salazar said the company’s recruiters at the event spoke to “a number of candidates who look good for our programs.”

Seals-Hilliard said although there were no direct hires at last week’s event, several candidates were offered final interviews. Based on the feedback from the employers, a total of 31 potential new hires resulted from Employer Day.

Lt. Col. Alvin Jordan of the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion, who plans to retire in June, attended the event to look for opportunities for a second career.

Jordan has worked more than 20 years in the intelligence field.

Prospective employers in the intelligence field gave him feedback on his resume.

“I think it’s important for people who don’t have an extensive network to come to events like these,” Jordan said. “TAP allows you to do that and network for jobs. If you don’t have that kind of network, finding a job can be difficult.”

Although his retirement is eight months away, Jordan said he thinks he will be successful in landing a job in his new career.

“It looks pretty positive right now,” he said.

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