Specialist Ransom McElwayne is nearing the end of his military career. Within the next few months, McElwayne will be medically retired and with his departure date steadily approaching, he is taking proactive steps to transition himself into the civilian sector by attending Fort Campbell’s Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program and the Army Community Service Employment Readiness Program Job Fair Wednesday and today at Cole Park Commons.
“This is my third job fair,” said McElwayne, 541st Transportation Company, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
“I like to stay ahead of the curve.”
Prior to joining the military, McElwayne worked as a project manager in Miami, Fla. However, when the economy took a downturn, he found himself out of work.
“I got laid off and joined the military, but unfortunately I got hurt so now I am back on the market and hopefully I can secure something quickly.”
With a crisp white shirt, tie, vest, slacks and resumes in hand, McElwayne was dressed for success and determined to make a lasting impression with some of the more than 75 national and international employers in attendance Wednesday.
“My background is in sales and marketing management, and what I do for the Army is logistics, so if there some way I could weave the two together, and find a company that fits with growth potential, that’s where I want to be,” said McElwayne.
The job fair is open to transitioning Soldiers, Family members, civilians, retirees and other job seekers from outside the gate.
National and international companies/agencies in attendance included Shell, Xerox, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FedEx Freight, General Electric and more.
Many of the employers came ready to interview, accept resumes and in some cases, make on-the-spot job offers.
“We have a significant amount of employers that are going to be hiring [during the job fair],” said Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program Manager Harold Riggins, Wednesday.
“As soon as we walk away from here, we’ll go to another site where they talk to candidates further, start interviews, drug screening, online applications, and … we will probably have a significant amount of Soldiers with job offers.
“We tell the employers they will see every category of Soldier – from the Soldier who has been preparing to get out of the Army from the day they came in, to those who started 12 months out, and also the Soldier who got notified yesterday that he has to leave the Army on short notice,” said Riggins. “The employers are very receptive. Many of these employers have flown from all over the United States and one from another country to participate in our job fair, because they are getting something out of it – they are getting great candidates. They are getting people that are going to make their companies better.”
As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, more than 750 people had attended the job fair. According to Riggins, day two of the job fair, which hosts local and regional employers, should produce even better results. Employers were available to interact with job seekers from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.
For more information about local job fairs, call the Transition Assistance Program at (270) 798-5000 or the Employment Readiness Program at (270) 798-4412.
Hirepurpose Director of Recruiting William Leineweber participated in Wednesday’s job fair and was impressed with the caliber of attendees. His organization helps match military talent with leading companies.
“I think Fort Campbell has a lot to offer – really strong candidates,” said Leineweber. “The candidates here seem to be more informed and prepared than the average.”
One of the candidates that left a great impression with him was McElwayne.
“Great candidate – high energy, maintained eye contact, good posture and he made sure he looked at me when I was speaking,” said Leineweber.
“He was also very clear with what he wanted to do. He said he was OK with this location, open to others, gave me a very brief description of his background. He told me, ‘In the civilian world, these are my competencies, in the Army world, these are my competencies.’ He took to the time to tell me what I needed to hear. He anticipated that I need to hear when he is available, where he wants to go and what his background is.”
It is candidates like McElwayne that make Fort Campbell job fairs so popular with employers.
According to Riggins, many attending agencies have stated that Fort Campbell’s is the best out of all the job fairs held within the Department of Defense.
As McElwayne continues to prepare for a smooth transition, he plans to continue attending more post job fairs.
“I want to continue getting my face out there,” he said.
“I got a couple job offers on the table. Everything is working out. I got my face out to a lot of employers and I received some good information.”
Offering a word of advice to other job seekers, McElwayne encourages Soldiers and Family members to take advantage of the many workshops that are available through the Fort Campbell Transition Assistance Program.
“Prepare yourself mentally, as far as engaging with someone you have never met,” said McElwayne.
“Be engaged, reach out and shake their hand, talk to them, look them in the eye. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be and the better impression you will make. Practice makes perfect.”