North Carolina employers are looking for a few good men and women.
The North Carolina for Military Employment hiring event, aboard Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, offered employers the chance to connect, interview and offer jobs military veterans, transitioning service members, military spouses, guardsmen and reservists.
Dressed in suits and armed with resumes, close to 60 men and women attended the hiring opportunity, held at Heritage Hall. Many were interviewed or took the chance to make connections that could help with future employment.
"It was easier to join the military than it is to leave," said Staff Sgt. James Nipe, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technician at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. "Now I'm older, I've got a wife and kids, and now I'm separating and going back into the civilian world and pretty much the unknown.
"It would be easier to just stay in, but there's benefits to getting out and things that I want to do on the outside. So, I think this helps ease that stress a little bit."
Nipe spent the day meeting with employers with an interest in finding an industrial-related job, possibly in management.
"I don't think I'll walk out of here with a guaranteed job, but I'll walk out of here with a better network, with names to email and keep in touch with or to follow up with," Nipe said. "I'm feeling out the companies that are here and this gives me a better foot in the door rather than just applying online."
More than 30 employers were on hand from a variety of companies, law enforcement agencies and most from the Wayne County market. Companies were searching for business system analysts, nurses, maintenance technicians, managers, welders, truck drivers, salespersons and financial advisers.
"We're trying to hire some of our veterans that are transitioning out from the military," said Lt. Ryan Kendall, with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. "It's just one of the pieces of our recruiting strategy."
Kendall had four scheduled interviews, but employers at the event also spoke with walk-in candidates.
"We do have a lot of respect for our service men and women," Kendall said. "They come out of the military with a sense of honor and duty and discipline, and they know about commitment and service and those are a lot of the qualities we look for everywhere, not just with the military, at any recruiting event."
Landing a job with the police department is a four- to six-month process with physical, medical and psychological evaluations, as well as training and background checks, he said.
"Today, we're here to, hopefully, meet some potential applicants, get them started in the process and moving forward, hopefully, to our next academy class."
Casey Adams, the wife of an active-duty airman stationed at SJAFB, already had several interviews scheduled for the day but was hopeful of landing a health care management job with Wayne UNC Health Care. She also had an interview planned with the University of Mount Olive, where she will graduate with a bachelor's degree in health care management in August.
"I thought it was a great chance to get to sell yourself face-to-face to someone instead of just being that next applicant that pops up on their database that they have for their website for when you apply for their job openings," Adams said. "It's going to leave a stronger impression on them.
"I think its a great opportunity."
The North Carolina for Military Employment, NC4ME, hiring event is one of 10 planned across the state this year, with most taking place in areas near military installations, said James Simpson, NC4ME program manager.
"In my perspective and in what we've seen so far in all of the studies, military personnel, because of the experiences they've had in the military, generally are higher performers than their civilian counterparts that are the same age," Simpson said.
"They've generally had more leadership responsibilities than their civilian counterparts and our military spouses are considerably higher educated than most people in the communities that they're living in."
This year, nearly 20,000 service members are expected to transition out of North Carolina military installations.
NC4ME is a public-private partnership with the N.C. Department of Commerce, in partnership with the N.C. Military Foundation and N.C. Veterans Foundation. The hiring events are part of a larger plan to strengthen the flow of military talent into businesses with the goal of making North Carolina the No. 1 state for military employment.
"If you look at economic development, the employees are always a key driving factor on where a new company is going to establish or on retaining a company that's been a community for a long time," Simpson said. "So, it's very much an economic development process to keep those folks that have the skills and the education and keep them in our economy rather than sending them to someone else's."