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A military spouse fills out an application for a job at the Marston Pavilion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune during the Military Spouse Business Alliance Hiring Fair and Career Forum Aug. 9. Many employers held interviews on the spot and there where staff members present who gave resume-building advice.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Hire Our Heroes holds spouse job fair

14 Aug 2012 | Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Military spouses gathered at the Marston Pavilion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for the Military Spouse Business Alliance Hiring Fair and Career Forum Aug. 9.

“Unfortunately the unemployment rate for military spouses stands at about 26 percent,” said Laura Dempsey, the program director for military spouse employment for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hire Our Heroes program, the program that hosted the event. “It’s largely due to their high mobility, not because of a lack of ability.”

Military spouses face special challenges when looking for work. In Jacksonville those challenges can be compounded by the unemployment rate, currently 10.1 percent.

“It’s a small city,” said Jasmine Betances, a military spouse at the event. “There aren’t a lot of job opportunities.”

The fair specifically seeks out and brings in employers who are looking for what a military spouse can bring to the table.

“(Military spouses) are a great asset,” said Dempsey. “When our members approach us after hiring spouses they really want more of them. They are extremely loyal, flexible and self-sufficient. They’re great employees to have.”

More than 400 military spouses came to the fair where approximately 30 employers had booths with representatives ready to answer questions or hold on-the-spot interviews.

“There’s been a really good turnout,” said Joseph Pennington, a representative with an employer. “We held 20 interviews today.”

The attending military spouses had a wide range of experiences. There were biochemists, financial advisers, social workers and construction workers hoping to get their foot in the door locally. Many left behind jobs in other states to follow their spouses and keep their families together.

Other challenges faced by spouses include a lack of positions within their job field.

Cristina Celeya, a military spouse hoping to find work through the fair advised other spouses in her position not to give up.

“You might get discouraged, especially because of the situation the nation is facing, but you have to get your foot in the door, even if you start at a lower position than you expected,” said Celeya.

Military spouses sought opportunities to display their skills with the flexibility to handle the challenges associated with the military lifestyle.

The event was also a career forum, with presentations on finding a career, how to best showcase volunteer experience and networking. Job seekers also received individual coaching on their resumes and interview skills.

“We hope (participants) can get a job but if they don’t, we add a lot of extras to make sure they get something out of this for their careers,” said Dempsey.

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