The Fort Campbell Spouse Employment Center, or SEC, will host an “Open Air Job Fair” 10 a.m.-2p.m. Oct. 21 in the parking lot between the SEC and Soldier for Life Center.
It will be the first event of its kind geared toward military spouses since the COVID-19 pandemic brought such gatherings to a halt in March. It will take place outside to give employers and prospective employees room to spread out and practice social distancing, said Patrice Hamilton, employment services counselor at the SEC.
Invitations were sent to at least 35 companies or organizations and Hamilton expects 20-25 companies will participate, along with a number of partnering agencies, including the USO Pathfinders, Campbell Strong Workforce Partnership and others that help Soldiers, Family members and veterans with job searches.
“Because of the conditions of COVID-19 we are limited on space,” Hamilton said. “We are limited in the opportunities for many people to travel. The larger hiring fairs and job fairs we’ve typically had in the past at Cole Park Commons – we’re just not there yet to have that kind of function.”
The SEC posted available jobs with descriptions on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SpouseEmploymentFortCampbell), she said.
The SEC staff, at 5668 Wickham Ave., is eager to help clients prepare for the upcoming job fair and to get started with job searches. Appointments can be made by calling 270-412-1720 and walk-ins are accepted if there are openings, Hamilton said.
“They are more than welcome to come in, see us and get prepared,” she said. “When many of the employers have registered ahead of time, I have asked them to tell me what positions they are looking for, so from our perspective, if I get a spouse who comes in here and they give me an idea of what they are looking for, we recognize that oftentimes you have to tailor that resume to meet the need. That’s what I’m looking for, to make sure they are ready.”
The SEC also houses representatives from partner agencies including USO Pathfinder, Campbell Strong Workforce Partnership, Career Skills Program and Employment Readiness so staff can direct jobseekers to the best person to help meet their individual needs, Hamilton said.
Some jobseekers may not have resumes and that is something SEC and partner agency staff can help with. They can critique resumes and offer advice on how to tailor resumes to specific jobs.
SEC staff also can conduct mock interviews, teach clients how to explain gaps in their resumes and promote the benefits of hiring military spouses to potential employers, Hamilton said.
All COVID-19 precautions and guidelines will be followed during the job fair.
“The expectation is you come with a face mask,” Hamilton said. “We’ll have some directional routes so that they will get an opportunity to see all the employers that will be here, but also we’ll have spacing.”
Hamilton said increasing military spouse employment is a quality of life initiative that enhances Army readiness.
“I’m a senior spouse,” she said. “My husband is a commander and we’ve been doing this for over 20 year and more than just a little bit of moves, so it’s very exciting for me to know that there is a place that you can recognize, that Spouse Employment Center is for me.”
The outdoor job fair may also serve as a reminder to some that SEC services remain available despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This job fair is an opportunity for us to make our community aware that we are here, we’re open and we’re still available to them,” Hamilton said. “Although we are operating in different times right now, we are still here to meet the needs. The military spouse community is a very resilient community and those candidates who are actually looking for employment and looking to move on to the next level and meet goals in their lives, they need to know things are still operational. They still have access to [services], they still have a support system. We want them to know they are not doing this alone and we are here for them.”
If it rains or the weather is too cold, an inclement weather date for the job fair has been set for Oct. 28.