A program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Thanks to the connections that he made at a Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Expo, Jon Cox landed his post-military job even before he planned his military retirement ceremony.
“I was a year out from my retirement when I decided to attend the Minneapolis-St. Paul Hiring Expo with the Minnesota Wild. I had heard good things about Hiring Our Heroes, so I thought I would give it a try,” Cox said. “I was amazed at all the employers ready to talk to me. They had an interest in my background and what I did in the Navy.”
It was at this hiring expo that Cox connected with Home Base Iowa.
“Home Base Iowa told me of a military recruiting position with a company called Hy-Vee. I never thought of a retail grocery company as an opportunity for myself,” he said. “I knew I still had one year left in the Navy; however, I applied for the position anyway.”
After an interview in Des Moines, Cox received a job offer, and in January 2018, Cox started working as the military recruiter for Hy-Vee.
Next month, Cox will return to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Hiring Expo — this time, as the recruiter looking to connect with military talent.
Nearly 4,000 job seekers annually connect with military-ready employers through Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) Hiring Expos held at professional sports arena concourses throughout the United States.
“Our hiring expos are designed to make ‘traditional’ hiring fairs fun and comfortable places to have meaningful conversations with employers,” said Cara Cooke, Senior Manager of Veterans Programs at Hiring Our Heroes.
Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Expos are hands-on career planning events designed to connect members of the local military community with military-ready employers. During these events, job seekers have the opportunity to attend interactive workshops prior to handing out their resumes and business cards.
These free professional development events are open to active duty service members, National Guard members, military reservists, veterans, military spouses, and military caregivers.
Through partnerships with the National Hockey League (NHL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and Major League Baseball (MLB), expo attendees have had some unique opportunities at hiring expos. Many come away with signed memorabilia given away through raffles — jerseys, hockey sticks, baseball bats, basketballs, and more.
“Expos are true partnerships. The teams we work with have full participation and understanding of the mission and vision of Hiring Our Heroes,” Cooke said.
During a recent expo, retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus handed out Washington Capitals hockey sticks to attendees at a D.C.-based event. The Minnesota Wild and Washington Capitals gave Zamboni rides to selected job seekers and corporate sponsors.
Raffle winners have had the opportunity to high-five Washington Wizards players as they walked onto the court and be courtside while the Houston Rockets warm up for their game.
Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. John Quintas threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game, and the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox invited a few employers and veteran job seekers to watch batting practice from the field.
While only one or two expo attendees will win an autographed hockey stick, every job seeker may receive two free tickets to a hockey, basketball, or baseball game that night. It’s through Hiring Our Heroes’ partnerships with the NHL, NBA, and MLB teams, that we can thank our veterans and their families for their service in this special way.
“We try to make the entire day centered on cultivating employment opportunities and the impact it has on the entire military family. By inviting them back to attend that night’s game, we know it’s an equal sacrifice, and we get to thank them too – free of cost,” Cooke said.
The free ticket is a nice incentive, but it isn’t the reason why thousands of veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses attend Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Expos each year. They come to Hiring Our Heroes events because of the companies that attend HOH events.
Cox noticed the difference when he went to that hiring event in 2017.
“At other job fairs they only talked about entry-level positions. It seemed to me that they did not care about what skills I could bring to their company and how fast I could be trained to do what I needed to do to be a success with them,” he said.
The companies at Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Expos understand the skills that veterans bring to their organizations. They see the potential and are willing to take a chance with a veteran, Cox added.
“At a Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Expo, all the companies care about is what you did in the military and what you want to do after you leave the military,” Cox said.
Because participating employers understand the value that military talent brings to their organizations, they come to Hiring Our Heroes events actively recruiting and hiring for positions at all levels within their organizations. The average job seeker attendance is between 150 and 200 per expo, while the arenas host more than 100 employers.
“A typical arena is large enough that our job seekers have opportunities to have meaningful conversations with a wide and diverse group of employers, and it often leads to offers right then and there,” Cooke said.
How does Hiring Our Heroes connect qualified candidates with interested employers? It’s through our Employer Dashboard, an exclusive portal offered to our Veteran and Military Spouse Advisory Council members and Friends of HOH.
Many hiring managers review local candidates’ resumes on Resume Engine and Career Spark before connecting with them at the hiring event. Hiring Our Heroes encourages job seekers to post their resumes when they register for the hiring event. Employers, like Capital One, Comcast NBCUniversal, Lockheed Martin, and Leidos Holdings Inc. have been known to interview candidates at hiring expos.
“At a Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Expo, it’s all about helping our veterans,” Cox said. “We are all working together to give our veterans the very best opportunities that they deserve after their military service.”
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A Program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation