Many veterans are still looking for work in this sluggish economic recovery. Which is why several veterans job fairs and seminars are coming up.
The Union League's VETSmart career seminar day, set for Monday, Sept. 14, is a good place to prepare for future job fairs and interviews, says event chair Chris D'Ascenzo.
"We see veterans and their families as a unit and address that in our workshops, so that valuable career skills can be used by veterans and their families to be successful in civilian life," he says.
Seminars include networking, interviewing skills, and entrepreneurship.
On Wednesday, Sept. 16, aboard the battleship New Jersey, job-seeking veterans can meet with recruiters at the free PhillyVeterans.com job fair.
"This event will go a long way to realize our goal of helping at least 2,000 Delaware Valley veterans find meaningful employment by 2018," says Kevin O'Brien, managing partner at Veteran Recruiting, host of the gathering.
A third event, the Union League Veterans Job Fair, is set for Monday, Oct. 19. It's free and open to veterans, their spouses, and family members. The Civil War-era Union League building is at Broad and Sansom Streets; the nearest public-transportation stops are Suburban Station and City Hall.
At this job fair, veterans and other participants will receive free digital photo portraits, which they can use for LinkedIn or online career websites.
At two of the events, Drexel University will be launching new software for veterans that will help convert their military-service duties into a civilian resume.
Drexel's MySTEPs will be available at both VETSmart and the Union League Veterans Job Fair. (MySTEPs stands for My Skills Translator and Experience Portfolios).
"We will be unveiling the Drexel MySTEPs tool, and will have advisers there to do a demonstration and sit one-on-one with veterans," says Susan Aldridge, president of Drexel University Online.
"It solves the 'pain points' that both HR managers and veterans have [in] assessing military careers and how those titles fit in the civilian workplace," Aldridge says.
Users create free accounts, access their Joint Services Transcripts, and translate them into civilian resumes in less than a minute.
"Let's say you have a military career in intelligence. Then Drexel MySTEPs will translate your service and match up your CV [curriculum vitae] with jobs that match your experience," she says.
Security-services company AlliedBarton is beta-testing the software now, Aldridge adds.
Representatives from Drexel will be on hand at the Union League events to help veterans prep for interviews with up to 45 local vet-friendly employers and institutions with current job openings.
Teresa Wolfgang, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, understands the confusion veterans experience translating their military careers into civilian work. She had some explaining to do to her employer when she got back from active duty.
"I have two parallel careers: One is my day job, and one in the military. And when you're mobilized, that can put your work on pause. When you return, a lot of employers don't know how to take you back."
After leading a battalion in Afghanistan, Wolfgang returned to work in 2011 and met with her boss to address what had happened in the year since she'd been activated.
"I loved my company, but when I met with my boss, he didn't really understand what had happened," she recalls.
Some of her friends have taken their military service off their resumes to avoid any stigma, she says. "I didn't do that; I own it. But I did crunch my 25 years of military service down into one paragraph."
She now works as executive director of a nonprofit, the Women's Resource Center in Wayne, and is headed to Tajikistan this week with her reserve unit.
"I have it on my resume that I'm part of a reserve unit. And my employer knows that it's part of my life."
Wolfgang will be speaking at the Union League's Oct. 19 job fair and says she especially wants to help veterans translate their military service into civilian skills.
As Ralph Galati, director of Veterans Services at St. Joseph's University, notes, "There are many companies that hire in our area that are vet-friendly companies.
"They just have to find each other."