Navigating the job market is tough, especially in this economy. But it's often even harder for active servicemembers and veterans.
So for the first time, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and KANSASWORKS teamed up Saturday to put on a job fair at a Kansas National Guard armory.
The "Get HIRED!" job fair at the armory at I-235 and Seneca in Wichita was open exclusively in the morning for veterans, transitioning servicemembers and their families before being opened later on to the public.
The fair essentially brought job opportunities to job seekers who are in the military on a weekend when they were already there training, ESGR Kansas State Chair Mick Allen said.
It's a big help for national guardsmen like Philip Crabtree.
"I'm just seeing what's out there, just trying to get my resume out there and hopefully come up with something," Crabtree said.
Crabtree does military funeral honors for the state of Kansas. He owned his own business before joining the military. Now that his job is nearing its end with the Kansas National Guard, Crabtree wants a job in the aviation field or maybe something in the oil and gas industry.
"It's almost like I'm starting over," Crabtree said. "I'm taking baby steps trying to figure it out, what people are going to be looking for."
The hope is that he and others had plenty of help to do just that in the familiar surroundings of the armory.
"We all hope to land a job or, if nothing else, to get some networking done," said Andrew Neeley who just retired from the Air Force after a 24-year career.
ESGR State Chair Mick Allen says the turnout Saturday was incredible and served as further proof that having this kind of fair in an armory is the way to go in the future. He hopes this fair serves as a model they can expand upon across the state and across the country.
"It just works better. It just makes sense," Allen said.
Allen says Saturday's job fair cost his organization a tenth of what it would cost to put it on at an outside venue. Also, he says, at the armory on the weekend they are better able to tailor the experience and the employers to their mainly military audience.
"We've just asked (the employers) to give a veteran, a guardsman, reservist, spouse, a fair shake," Allen said.
A fair shake is something the servicemembers say they would really appreciate as they take this next step.
"I'm ready to move on, get a good career and stick with a company for a long time," Crabtree said.