By ROSIE GITHINJI
MT. VERNON — —
The Illinois Department of Employment Security in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs hosted a Veteran Job and Resource Fair at the Rolland W. Lewis Community Building.
Greg Rivara, communications manager for IDES, said several job fairs are held throughout the year in Illinois, but the job fairs held during the October and November month are more veteran centric job fairs. He said the reason for that is because Veterans Day is celebrated in November, as well as November being considered veterans month.
“We make a special effort to get vets through the doors and get organizations who can utilize the special skills of veterans,” Rivara said. “All those companies have immediate job opening. It is not unusual to have job offers on the spot.”
He said the veteran centric job fairs are an effort that has been put forth by the state of Illinois for about five years — something which has encouraged job efforts among other organizations in the state.
Rivara said there are a lot of incentives and programs available to the business community to hire veterans which many may not be aware of. One such incentive is a federal tax credit.
Rivara said both potential employees as well as employers can post or search for jobs on illinoisjoblink.com, a website used to post positions and or resumes. He said right now there are over 120,000 job postings and 70,000 resumes on the website. One benefit of the site is that it allows job seekers to post up to five different resumes with specific key words, which can then be searched for by employers. Last year, 47,000 veterans throughout the state found jobs, assisted by IDES.
“We want people to work,” Rivara said, explaining some of the benefits of a full work force in Illinois, such as a stronger economy and more services provided through more taxes being paid into the state.
IDES also offers information to veterans on how to interview for a job, Rivara said.
“We have to tell veterans its okay to go into a hiring room and sell yourself,” he said. “Why your skills and your energy will help company succeed more than any other applicant.”
He pointed out there are many benefits to hiring a veteran. For example, veterans value service above self, they understand group accomplishment over individual accolades, they are team players, highly motivated and responsible.
“There is no downside,” he said.
Employers and providers from many areas of southern Illinois were represented at the annual job fair.
Deputy District Ranger, Karmen Sam, with the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service said he came to the job fair to recruit for four positions — firefighter, two office workers and a forestry technician. These positions would be at the Shawnee National Forest and are all entry level.
“Some specialized experience would obviously be helpful, but not needed,” he said.
He said he was interested in this particular job fair because it was veteran centric.
“We do like to provide the opportunity for veterans as part of diversity [of the community]. They make up a good part of the population,” Sam said. “We want our agency to reflect the population. I’m just here to do outreach and recruitment to get a good candidate pool.”
He said those interested in applying for a position should go to usajobs.com to fill out an application.
John Bean of Mt. Vernon, who is a veteran, said he attended the job fair so he could look for a position that would apply to a degree in industrial electronic he is currently working on. He said right now he works at a gas station.
“I’m just looking for a change,” he said. “I am happy they are doing a veterans job fair.”
He said the job fair is helpful in letting people know what is out there as well as provide answers to questions about various companies.