Miami area Veterans seek jobs with employers who favor military experience
On Sept. 11, a day of tragic events in 2001 that led many people to enlist in the military, about 1,000 veterans and other job seekers came to the "Putting America Back to Work" event in Plantation.
While Wednesday's event was targeted toward service members transitioning to the civilian workplace, the event drew a wide audience: young and old, veterans and displaced workers. Some were optimistic a good job was around the corner, while others complained there were mostly part-time or low-paying jobs being offered.
U.S. Army veteran Jeremy Chandra, 25, is a fresh-faced graduate from Miami-Dade College eager to find a sales job. The Army taught him "leadership, teamwork and hard work," he said.
One employer at the job fair was so impressed with Chandra that he quickly got on the phone with his manager. "Someone is going grab him up," he said.
The qualities that former military members bring is what attracts employers — including AutoNation, Seminole Gaming and The Geo Group — to hire such workers.
AutoNation, whose Toyota Weston dealership manager was recruiting for sales positions, has hired more than 200 workers with a military background since 2011, said AutoNation spokesman Marc Cannon. "They're disciplined, willing to work long hours and are looking for opportunity.
"No task is too daunting for them."
Seminole Gaming in Hollywood, which was conducting interviews at the job fair, has hired nearly 650 veterans since 2010 at its casinos in Florida, said spokesman Gary Bitner.
After 22 years in the Army, Anthony Boykins of Pembroke Pines has been researching employers for about a year to prepare his transition to the civilian workforce.
"I'm confident I'll find something that's a right fit for me," said Boykins, 44, wearing his Army uniform at the job fair.
But he's concerned that employers won't recognize his work in recruiting and management at a senior-level rank in the Army. With four children ages 5 to 18 to support, Boykins doesn't want to start his career over.
The bulk of the job seekers on Wednesday were unemployed residents who aren't veterans. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, with two more hours to go, 900 had attended the job fair with 275 being veterans, according to sponsor WFTL-AM 850 radio. National radio host Geraldo Rivera did his show from the event.
Brian Glaros, 43, of Sunrise had recently been laid off from a property management firm. He has 15 years of experience and, despite the improving economy, is finding potential employers cautious about hiring.
"They don't have the money or people are holding on to their jobs. Better the devil you know than the one you don't," he said.
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