Where only military need apply

The Baltimore Sun

Dressed in her U.S. Army fatigues, Trina Smith yesterday visited every booth at a job fair targeting current military members and soon-to-be civilians and offered up a sales pitch two decades in the making.

Smith, 49, told recruiter after recruiter that she wasn't a "sit-down type of person" and her 20 years as an Army human resources manager gave her the ideal background for many of the jobs being offered by the 30 companies at the fair.

"I've been a soldier for so long, nearly all my life. It's like coming out of high school again," said Smith, who will retire from the military next month. "But somebody is going to be calling me after this."

Smith and hundreds of others filled the South Club Level at M&T; Bank Stadium yesterday for a job fair hosted by RecruitMilitary, a national, full-service military-to-civilian recruiting firm.

Yesterday's job fair was the third in Baltimore this year, representatives from RecruitMilitary said. RecruitMilitary is planning more than 100 fairs nationwide over the next year, according to Robert Walker, Director of Career Fairs for the organization.

The push to hire more veterans comes at a time when the unemployment rate for those who have served in the military remains at about 4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The President's National Hire Veterans Committee was signed into law five years ago as an offspring of the Jobs for Veterans Act.

Officials from area and national companies at the job fair embraced the focus on veterans, saying they tend to find workers coming from the military more disciplined, team-oriented and punctual than the average employee.

Local police departments, the Transportation Security Administration, Microsoft, Boeing, Lowe's and others paid at least $995 a table for the four-hour job fair. Veterans did not have to pay to attend.

The job seekers ranged in age from mid-20s to late 50s, some having left the military within the last year while others having not put on a uniform in close to 30 years.

Gary Ingegno attended the fair after having served three years in the Army in the 1980s. Ingegno, 48, who lives in Dundalk and worked as an aviation mechanic for much of the past 20 years, said he recently found himself unemployed.

In pursuit of a management position, Ingegno handed out about five resumes, the last of which came with a directed edict.

"If you want somebody to crack the whip, then here I am," Ingegno told a tree-removal company.

James Rosenbaum said he left the Navy two years ago and has had trouble finding steady work since. His jobs have included stints as a plumber's assistant, a worker for Home Depot and now a clothing salesman at Macy's.

Rosenbaum, who lives in Arnold, said he served for 3 1/2 years as a nuclear mechanic on a submarine, and is looking for work in the engineering field.

"I'm glad they have these things. It gives me more of an idea of who I should talk to, who I should send my resumes out to," Rosenbaum said.


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