On Wednesday July 9, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) hosted Minnesota’s 8th annual Veterans Career Fair at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center. As the largest Veterans career fair in Minnesota, this event was made possible through a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and various corporate sponsors and service providers.
The goal of the fair was to bring a large number of service members in direct contact with a large number of employers. Providing Veterans with opportunities for employment was a top priority; all employers participating were required to have available job openings. Employers in attendance actively sought Veterans for openings in various positions.
In addition to employment opportunities, the fair also provided Veterans with various resources and educational programs. Service providers and educational staff were available for consultation, and workshops scheduled throughout the day gave Veterans valuable insight in various career-related topics. These workshops included presentations on entrepreneurship, job searching, social media, and new federal regulations pertaining to Veterans. Panels on recruiting featured hiring executives from local companies such as Target and Cargill, who answered questions in an open forum setting.
The Veterans Career Fair hosted 163 exhibitors, of which roughly 140 were employers seeking Veterans. The remaining exhibitions were reserved for service providers and educational institutions. Top sponsors of the event included 3M, Wells Fargo, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, among others.
Through their website, DEED offered training and advice on attending career fairs prior to the event. Periodic updates reminded Veterans of the upcoming fair and provided information on preparation and strategy, including working with Veterans in translating skills to the civilian workforce after their time in the service. This includes training on effectively communicating these valuable skills to potential employers.
Jim Finley, Director of Veterans Employment Programs at DEED, attended the event and spoke briefly on the importance of assisting Veterans in their career search. “We all have to find our legs, and for some [after deployment or separation from service], it just takes a little more time,” explained Finley. “Our goal is to help Veterans in any way we can in order to accomplish this.”
Finley encourages all Veterans to post their resume on MNWorks.net, where current and former service members can identify themselves to potential employers. The service is completely free, and allows employers to actively search for Veterans while helping Veterans discover new employment opportunities. Veteran job seekers are also encourage to visit the employment section of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs website at MinnesotaVeteran.org.