Art museum is site of event designed to help transition to civilian work force
Indianapolis Star – February 11, 2009 – After Tom Hills finished his 27-year career with the U.S. Navy as a pilot and commander of a flight training unit, one of his toughest missions was still ahead of him: finding a job as a civilian.
“After that long of a career in the military, everything on the outside looks pretty dark,” said Hills. “Change is disconcerting, but all change is difficult.”
But what Hills, who now works for Rolls-Royce, and many veterans find is that looking for a job in the civilian world can be overwhelming — even more so now that unemployment in Indiana has exceeded 8 percent.
Many veterans leave the military with a very specific set of skills, and that can limit their job search. Others, who went into the military right after high school, have never been in the civilian work force.
On Thursday, Indianapolis-area veterans will get help at a job fair put on by RecruitMilitary, a Cincinnati-based military-to-civilian recruiting firm. The fair will be at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
“Not only do these employers want qualified people, but they want good people who understand what it means to get a job done,” said John Lundberg, a national account representative with RecruitMilitary. “Veterans have that and more. They understand what a real work ethic is all about.”
Maybe that will ease some anxiety: In a survey by, 81 percent of veterans said they didn’t feel fully prepared to enter the work force. Of that figure, 76 percent said they were unable to translate skills to the civilian world, and 72 percent felt unprepared to negotiate salary.
Chad Sowash, an Army drill sergeant serving in Georgia and set to return to Indiana in March, said veterans should not be afraid to tout what they have to offer.
“People who have military backgrounds have such an edge on everybody else, but what we have had trouble with over the years is articulating that,” said Sowash, vice president of business development for DirectEmployers in Indianapolis. “You are not just an overachiever, you are a super-overachiever, and those are the types of people in today’s economy companies have to have to succeed.”
Proof is in the dozens of companies planning to attend Thursday’s fair, including from Mike’s Express Car Wash, Cook Medical, Snap-on Tools and WellPoint.
“Military job fairs are a great way to recruit people that already share many of our core values,” said Doug Castor, WellPoint’s staff vice president of talent acquisition.

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