Stillwater News Press

January 6, 2013

Oklahoma National Guard has program to help service members to find jobs

By Sgt. Christopher Bruce
Office of Public Affairs, Oklahoma National Guard

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma National Guard started a new program in 2012 to help Servicemembers with employment. The Employment Coordination Program  serves as a liaison between guard members looking for work and prospective employers, allowing Guardsmen a better opportunity for employment.

Soldiers and Airmen may use the program to prepare resumes, work on interview techniques and locate and apply for jobs.

Sgt. Andy Workman, of Tecumseh found his job at Dell as an enterprise server technician through the ECP. Workman deployed with the 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. In 2011, when he returned to Oklahoma, he had trouble finding a job.

Jennifer Mackey, ECP Coordinator, helps Servicemembers polish their resumes and interview techniques. But her job goes beyond these obvious tasks to such things as prequalifying candidates for a specific job before sending their information to the prospective employer.

“There were two jobs at Dell Jennifer suggested, one was enterprise and one was client,” Workman said. “Looking at my background, Jennifer and I decided enterprise was more suited for my skill level.”

Workman’s information passed directly from the ECP to Dell’s HR Department. A week later, he interviewed with Bruce Theinert, Dell’s manager in service support.

Theinert said 20 percent of Dell’s 100,000 employee workforce are veterans. Dell’s Oklahoma City facility surpasses the overall average at nearly 23 percent.

“We’re looking for strong people,” Theinert said. “We found that veterans are good at understanding how to get a job done.”

Theinert said he works with the ECP because it provides a more direct line of communication between the Soldier or Airmen and his office.

“We’re asking the Oklahoma National Guard to send us the resumes directly,” Theinert said. “That way, we’re guaranteed to at least look at the guardsman’s information instead of it being a line item in a piece of software.”

 

Theinert said he spreads his National Guard employees out across his department because they each bring a level of camaraderie to those around them. By spreading them out, he is likely to spread the camaraderie to his entire staff.

 “The guard and veterans will always be an asset to a company like Dell,” Theinert said.

Spc. William Morse is also an Oklahoma National Guardsmen who works at Dell. He is from Sterling, and is a member of the 3rd Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment. Morse can also credit the ECP for his job connection; however, he went a different direction.

Morse attended a job fair at the Norman Armed Forces Reserve Center last summer, which allowed him to talk with his employer before an interview. The employer gave him a head start on how to apply.

“They told me to send my resume and they would tell me what jobs to apply for if something becomes available,” Morse said. “Even before the jobs became available, the manager told me to apply for these jobs right now.”

Richard Leader, Dell tech support manager, uses the ECP as a way to find the best candidates. He said the program gives the Guardsmen a real sense of expectation about the job even before the interview process.

“The veterans that we hire actually stand out on our teams,” Leader said. “They fit in very well and it’s easy for them to understand the processes.”

Spc. Ian Gleason of Company A, 700th Brigade Support Battalion, 45th IBCT, is looking for a job to help him through college. He is starting an Information Technology degree and hopes to find an entry level IT job.

Gleason learned of the ECP from a phone call.

“They called me and asked if I was looking for work and I said yes,” Gleason said. “Then Sgt. Grace asked for my resume and we started working on it.”

Gleason is working with Sgt. Kevin Grace, ECP employment coordinator, to complete his resume and is attending ECP workshops to hone his interviewing skills.

“The ECP has helped me quite a bit,” Gleason said. “There’s a lot of information they are giving me that I didn’t know or think about.”

Gleason said he had spent many hours researching resume writing, but it was the one-on-one sit down with Grace that made the difference.

“An employer might just turn you away because your resume is unorganized,” Gleason said. “This program helps you refine your resume and build it so it is clean, neat and organized.”

Grace said it’s important to convey the values of a guard member before the interview.

“We have soldiers who are trained and well disciplined, they know to be at the right place at the right time in the right uniform with the right attitude,” Grace said. “They are dependable and they are used to working at a high tempo. Those are our key selling points.”

Grace works with job seekers to communicate those values on paper via their resumes. He said most employers will see a person’s resume before meeting the individual, which makes the resume an important part of the job hunting process.

“Enabling our soldiers to have a stable professional life and stable home life creates a stable guard life,” Grace said. “This allows our Soldiers and Airmen to come to work on drill weekend and annual training and focus on the mission to get the training.”

According to ECP program director, Lt. Col. Warren Griffis, the program helped more than 800 Guardsmen with resumes and job searching and helped 250 Guardsmen get a job in 2012. The ECP worked with about 150 employers to assist more than 1,000 unemployed Guardsmen returning from deployments.