Charlotte Works’ career centers, in partnership with N.C. Department of Commerce’s Veterans Services, hosted the biannual Veterans, Family and Friends job fair on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont’s Opportunity Campus. About 265 job-seekers attended the three-hour event that featured a special hour exclusively for veterans and family before opening to the public.
Participating employers included American Red Cross, Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Duke Energy, UNC Charlotte, Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, FedEx and more.
Veterans were excited about the opportunity to connect with employers, including Janet Tisdale who said this job fair was one of the most engaging ones she had ever attended. However, her job search for a customer service position hasn’t been without some challenges.
“The biggest challenge that I have faced is people automatically say that I’m overqualified. Give us a chance, we served our country. We’re here and we’re available,” Tisdale said.
At Charlotte Works, we’re going beyond simply putting people in jobs. Along with community partners, we’re providing opportunities for people to move into careers. At the fair, Goodwill was one of several organizations providing information to veterans about various career pathways.
“We have been sponsored by Walmart with a new grant to put 500 veterans to work,” said Richard Bartell, programs manager for Goodwill’s Operation: GoodJobs initiative. “We are targeting women veterans because we know there is a gap in pay and they are underserved. So, 20 percent of that 500 will place women in jobs. I’m a veteran of the United States Navy, and I’m a disabled veteran so I understand all of the challenges they are going through.”
Air Force veteran Wilson Patterson is seeking a position that encompasses his varied background and training, but it hasn’t been an easy road.
“My primary challenge is finding the right fit for me at this juncture in my life, a meaningful job, and of course one that makes a good amount of money,” Patterson stated.
Employers are up to the challenge to help job-seekers like Patterson find the perfect fit. Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Recruiting Sergeant Michael Griffin said that his office is quickly looking to hire about 60 detention officers and 44 deputies.
“We are hiring on the spot. I’m also a vet so that’s why I’m here,” Griffin explained. “I have a young lady at the Albemarle facility that’s homeless, and I’m trying to hire her now. I’m trying to hire someone that doesn’t have anything and give them an opportunity.”
Krisha Wilson, talent acquisition coordinator for FedEx, shared that job-seekers should come to events like job fairs with an open mind.
“Just be open and see what’s available because you never know it might be something you will like. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and give it a try,” Wilson said.