Jobs program connects Reserve, Guard members to employers
Two years ago, the civilian employment situation for members of the National Guard and reserve was bleak
. The economy had taken a downturn, causing unemployment rates nationwide to rise, including rates for veterans. But particularly troubling to Ronald Young, executive director of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, was that unemployment among reserve component members hit a record high of 13 percent in 2011.
“It was higher than for the general population and almost double that of the veteran population,”
“So we took a very aggressive approach to instituting employment initiative programs across the country to get at that challenge.”
The cornerstone of that effort was the
“Hero 2 Hired”
program, created to make it easy for reserve-component service members to connect to and find jobs with military-friendly companies.
“We put together a comprehensive program that used a very high
Young said, including online career exploration tools, military-to-civilian skills translations, education and training resources and even a mobile app. To support the program, 56 employment transition coordinators, many of them ESGR volunteers, fanned out to every corner of the United States to provide career counseling and resume assistance to job-seekers and to interface with employers seeking to fill positions.
“We saw this as an opportunity to leverage the 4,900 ESGR volunteers and their day
-to-day interface with employers to talk about what great business sense it makes to employ Guard and
Young said. In addition, a vehicle known as the Hero 2 Hired mobile job store regularly rolls into career fairs and
other venues to deliver the job search resources where it’s easily accessible by the military community.
Small kiosks that rotate between Guard and reserve units also help increase awareness of the program.
Guard and reserve members make great employees, Young said. They’re strong leaders and
outstanding followers, exhibiting loyalty, dedication and motivation to their missions. They demonstrate
other attributes that employers are clamoring for: professionalism, responsibility, punctuality, a “can
attitude, understanding of diversity and an ability to remain calm under pressure, among them. But when Young met with corporate leaders during a Clinton Global Initiative session in 2011, he
recognized that employers didn’t know how to tap into this potential.
“Across the board, the one thing they said was, „We want to hire them. We just don‟t know how to get access to them,‟”
he said. Two years since its standup, Hero 2 Hired is helping to bridge that gap. Almost 20,000 employers now post their job announcements on the Hero 2 Hired jobs website. The site, which 151,000 service members and their spouses now use, provides not only leads about job openings but also information about interview skills, resume templates and links to employment resources. Young attributes more than 11,000 hires to the program. In addition, through Hero 2 Hire's partnership with the Joining Forces initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and other public- and private-sector job programs, he estimates that 100,000 reserve component members and veterans have landed jobs.
“This is a way to link together those looking for jobs and those looking to fill jobs with veterans and Guard and reserve members,”
“We are just one of the contributing partners working at attacking this particular issue. But we believe we are having a definite impact.”
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to connect to employment opportunities