Hiring Our Heroes job fair part of week-long, national hiring push

MSNBC's Richard Lui reports from the Hiring Our Heroes jobs fair in New York City, where veterans are seeking opportunities with companies as civilians.

The math is mean. Post-9/11 veterans lug a steep unemployment rate that's a point-plus taller than the civilian rate. Add to that the 34,000 troops who soon will return from Afghanistan. Bottom line: The existing bulge of ex-military job seekers threatens to further swell in a world where stripes carry no sway. 

How to crack that cold equation? Just a little face time, says unemployed veteran Ruty Rutenberg, who believes that simply standing eye-to-eye with a hiring manager allows former service members to naturally radiate the ocean of intangibles that can only be absorbed in combat. 

"That presence, that aura about military people is very tough to see online in a resume, where (HR executives) are only looking at lines of text," says Rutenberg, 29, who served as an Army medic in Iraq, riding in Black Hawk helicopters. He's been searching for his "mainstay" career for about a year. "Online, it's tough to tell a person's emotions, let alone a person's energy.

Ian Horn special for NBC News

"Online, it's tough to tell a person's emotions, let alone a person's energy," said Ruty Rutenberg, 29, who attended a job fair in Los Angeles on Tuesday.


"But when you get to be right in front of these people and interact with them, there is no trepidation for veterans in those moments. We've been in stressful situations that people can't fathom, that they've only seen in movies," Rutenberg said Tuesday at a job fair in Los Angeles sponsored by Got Your 6, an entertainment-industry-backed, national veterans campaign. NBCUniversal is a partner in that movement. 

On Wednesday, Hiring Our Heroes — a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation that aims to get veterans back into the work force — is hosting a hiring fair at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City.

For veterans like Melissa Fay, a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, adjusting to civilian life and finding a job can be tough –  but after a few edits to her resume, Melissa landed a position with General Electric as a financial analyst. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

Click here for a list of upcoming Hiring Our Heroes job fairs.

Both events are part of the Got Your 6 "veteran hiring week." Such events, Rutenberg believes, are critical for companies with spots to fill and veterans with bills to pay: "One of the things the military ingrains in us is how to be present and confident in the moment, really in any moment." 

Still, owning that moment may require a touch of coaching, say some career counselors, who have spotted common, repeated flaws in the resumes and in interviewing skills of ex-service members.

Humility 'can be damning'
On paper, the mistakes typically involve the use of jargon: cumbersome acronyms, technical descriptions, and — to many civilians — the complicated system of military ranks. Is a "specialist" special? 

MSNBC's Richard Lui, joins Andrea Mitchell Reports live from the Hiring Our Heroes Jobs Fair in New York and explains how the initiative is trying to help veterans market themselves better in the work force.

"They feel: 'I've earned this rank. I want to make it prominent on my resume.' But that's one of the biggest complaints we hear from employers. They don't understand what 'sergeant first class' means," says Shareem Kilkenny, co-owner of Veteran Career Counseling Services. She operates VCCS with her husband, Kester Kilkenny, an Army veteran who spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

"What I have to get them to understand is: How do I translate their ranks and skills into the skills that employers are looking for? It might be better, for example, if a resume reads: 'Worked under extremely stressful conditions,' or 'Worked in a deadline-driven environment' or 'Dealt with constant change.' ”

Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org, talks about the unemployment numbers about veterans and their spouses and shares his thoughts on the Hiring Our Heroes initiative.

In addition to reading like a foreign language, militaryspeak may just get a veteran's resume tossed, warns Elizabeth Hruska, assistant director of career and internship services at the University of Minnesota

"This can be a barrier to a civilian employer who needs to quickly understand the basics of you and your qualifications — and (emphasize) quickly: Employers tell us they spend only 10 to 30 seconds on that initial resume once-over," Hruska says. 

While many veteran candidates may try to pitch themselves as the ultimate team players, some are prone to selling themselves short due to that group-first mindset, says Jason Dozier, veteran transition specialist with Hire Heroes USA, a nonprofit dedicated to creating job opportunities to veterans and their spouses through personalized employment training. 

"Military members are very team-oriented, and the word 'individual' can be a euphemism for those who fail to be a productive member of that team," Dozier said. "And so tasks and accomplishments are more likely to be framed as 'we' rather than as 'I.' Humility is a great virtue, but it can be damning if you're looking to be competitive in the job market."  



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I can't speak for other vets since every one of our experiences is different, but, I took a different approach. When I was serving, I essentially forfeited getting promoted by hitting the books hard at a local university. I was chatised and berated by my superiors for not being motivated and wanting to "get ahead". I used the military's tuition assistance program (a lot). I eventually graduated with a bachelors degree. I went on to get my Masters and then a PhD in Business Admin. Now the same people who critisized me for my lack of motivation, are now carrying bags of mulch and sand to my truck at the local Lowe's. I never needed any government handouts (post service) nor did my rank or experience really help that much. Most employers I know look at two sections of a resume, experience summary and education. My advice to active duty personnel is to use the TA as much as possible and get educated. Your rank, awards, or experience, are not going to help you as much as you think.

    Reply#29 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:16 AM EDT

    Check current facts one of the first cuts under sequester was tuition assistance to active military as well as education cuts to base stationed military children. No more option to forego promotion and hit the books- If you were enlisted you probably remember what you were being paid.

    • 1 vote
    #29.2 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:57 AM EDT

    There NO jobs. With unemployment stuck around 8% this administration of misfits is focused on gun rights, gay rights, and illegal immigration instead of the economy, debt and jobs.

    • 1 vote
    Reply#30 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:18 AM EDT

    As a multi-war combat veteran, I think this issue has more to do with "in your face" discrimination than any other matter. Every society has a certain level of intolerance, and that intolerance moves around when it is no longer fashionable to pick on one particular group. That said, the level of intolerance never really decreases, it just moves from one target to the next. I think that veterans since the Vietnam War have been the direct target of this shift in intolerance in our nation, and it is played out in a fantasy setting by all non-veterans, employers, ect. These folks find it enjoyable to not hire veterans and say all veterans are crazy, because the first step in attacking a group is to dehumanize them, and that is what has and is continuing to be done to veterans.

    Would folks get away with this behavior if it were the D-Day veterans returning from war? What about when Andy Rooney, the famous journalist came home from war? He was part of the first group of American soldiers to walk into a Nazi concentration camp after it was liberated by US forces. Did Mr. Rooney get called a "crazy vet" when he came home, or did he host the 60 Minutes television show for decades at high pay instead?

    See, the problem isn't the veterans returning home and needing work. The problem is that the Vietnam vets have to step up and put to rest the insane abuses doled out to all veterans by the country and workforce as dangerous discrimination. That game has been going on too long, and they got away with it with the Vietnam Vets. Don't let them do it to this generation of kids.

    US war veterans are the most discriminated against group in the United States. It simply has to stop.

    • 1 vote
    Reply#31 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:26 AM EDT

    Since it is supposed to be public knowledge, what was your military salary and rank, Sir?

    Pension of any kind? How much?

    Do you feel that front line enlisted should earn substantially higher salaries than even maybe officers that are administrators, not putting their life directly on the front lines?

    I inquire because we have a glut of enlisted veterans from the Vietnam and Korean conflicts, and more now from the desert conflicts that are rapidly accumulating. These served usually from only 4 to 15 years, just shy of career. As taxpayers scramble to take care of them all - we realize many saw combat and were injured, but their pay was embarrassingly low in contrast to their sacrifice.

    Why are we paying generals $20,000 per month? What do they do to actually earn that? This is more than some kings of the world.

    Thank you.

      #31.1 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:04 AM EDT

      It is the tradition of our armed forces for Commissioned Officers to earn more pay than enlisted soldiers while on active duty and I don't feel that would be very helpful to change. Many Commissioned Officers are on the front lines in war, especially Platoon Leaders. Only a small percentage of Commissioned Officers are not in forward positions, chiefly Field Grade Officers.

      The reason why there is such a glut of enlisted soldiers with battlefield wounds is because this is the first generation of kids in our history that we have sent to war for over ten years. Whether or not folks agree with the war, the decision was made. The kids fighting it had no choice, and many of them served in combat theatres for much longer periods of time than any generation before.

      That has happened because it seems to me that our country wanted to minimize the numbers of soldiers it was exposing to the war zones, thus placing the full burden of the war on the less than 1%. It was political to prevent the creation of a very large veteran population that traditional votes right-wing. The harm, however, is that it is very difficult for folks to be subjected to conditions of warfare for so long that they do not remain uninjured. So even though the total numbers of replacements in these wars was very low, the repeated deployments to war by the same folks was a very taxing activity on the whole force.

      Wounded warriors have to be taken care of, or else future generations of young men will not trust the government to keep its word that the US will care for the folks that served their country, where others did not. Over time, the best and brightest of our young will avoid serving in the military of they feel that those that came before them were betrayed. If money is an issue in caring for wounded veterans, then stop going to war. The country is responsible for the national defense, not just the kids that are sent to war to fight on our behalf.

      Soldiers serving in the military have a greatly reduced salary compared to their peers that do not serve. That is part of the sacrifice. These soldiers lose a numbers of years that could have been spent in the civilian workforce, and why soldiers do not accumulate wealth until after they leave the military. If corporations do not hire veterans, they permanently ruin them financially. It isn't just about getting a job when a vet leaves the military, it is giving those kids a fighting chance at buying a home, raising a family, and living a modest life. They all deserve that.

      Who I am isn't important. What is important is that this generation of veterans has gone so far above and beyond any other, including those I served with years ago, that we cannot allow them to be subjected to the same types of discrimination that began with Korean War veterans and certainly Vietnam veterans. Vietnam veterans are now the leaders of the community of veterans, so it is their responsibility to lead on these issues.

      • 1 vote
      #31.2 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:50 AM EDT

      Well said

        #31.3 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:58 AM EDT

        There is no real effort to hire vets nor is there any effort to help vets suffering with psychological trauma associated with our war efforts.

        At the same time, I resent the continual references that only military members are team-oriented. I've worked in some very team-oriented environments and can work independently just as well when needed. The same team concept the military people learn is transferable, to be certain, but is seldom treated the same in a civilian environment. If anything, a military person might be shocked at how team work is treated in corporate America.

        • 1 vote
        Reply#32 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:34 AM EDT

        Simply pointing fingers back at GWB immediately invalidates your own points, taking no responsibility for the current administration's lack of action regarding vets. So who's the low-information voter yipping & yapping now eh?

          #32.2 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:25 AM EDT

          Proceed with Caution

          Some are earning as much as $5000.00 a month - or more in severance or pension. Proceed with caution if there are civilians that need work.

          In fact, many of your active duty generals are earning roughly $20,000 per month - over a million per year.

          I am not condoning languishing veterans in homelessness. But, the homeless veterans are not being hired - it is those that already have jobs or are bringing in a pension.

          Employ veterans that need work more than those that do not. Keep on employing civilians.

          If all we have are employed veterans but the citizens are starving, what then. Who will pay your salaries?

          Generals and colonels need to seriously consider pay decreases and see to it that the lowest paid enlisted get a pay raise.

          That is what heroes do for their nation - they do not bleed it dry - but advance its people so that the majority succeed.

            #32.3 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:01 AM EDT

            2 out of 3 "good" jobs today require a college degree, soon it will be 3 out of 4. The military owes these guys that opportunity. The downside, of course is that some will be in their 30s when they complete their studies and almost 10 years behind (in job related experience) to those who got their degrees in their early 20s.

            • 1 vote
            Reply#33 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:09 AM EDT

            It is called "Green to Gold" now, and sadly, most units those high IQ soldiers serve will never get to take advantage of that program because local commanders will just say that they can't lose those intelligent soldiers because they are "mission critical". It happened to me, and I had to get my degrees after serving.

              #33.2 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:51 AM EDT

              Some people that I know joined the military because they couldn't find a job to begin with. Now, after their military service is completed they still can't find a job. They just simply don't have the skill set for the kind of jobs that are available. Some of them have partial disability also. I don't think that enhances their job hiring prospects. Employers need/want to hire the person that is best qualified for the position available, with the least amount of liability, not just because of someones military background.

                Reply#34 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:20 AM EDT

                Their entry into the military, and temporarily out of the U.S. workplace mainstream was voluntary, right??? Just the latest in a long string of U.S. entitlement scams.

                  Reply#35 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:36 AM EDT

                  Proceed with Caution

                  Some are earning as much as $5000.00 a month - or more in severance or pension. Proceed with caution if there are civilians that need work.

                  In fact, many of your active duty generals are earning roughly $20,000 per month - over a million per year.

                  I am not condoning languishing veterans in homelessness. But, the homeless veterans are not being hired - it is those that already have jobs or are bringing in a pension.

                  Employ veterans that need work more than those that do not. Keep on employing civilians.

                  If all we have are employed veterans but the citizens are starving, what then. Who will pay your salaries?

                  Generals and colonels need to seriously consider pay decreases and see to it that the lowest paid enlisted get a pay raise.

                  That is what heroes do for their nation - they do not bleed it dry - but advance its people so that the majority succeed.

                  • 1 vote
                  Reply#36 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:41 AM EDT

                  As a veteran I don't need any special treatment. an employer should hire the best candidate for the job weather they have been in the military or not. as any business knows they idea is to make a profit, not just give people jobs so you can feel good.

                  • 1 vote
                  Reply#37 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:46 AM EDT

                  I'm happy to see so many veterans on this thread who don't consider themselves heroes who somehow deserve special treatment. When someone volunteers for a job with their eyes wide open, gets on-the-job-training, gets paid for the work they do, gets benefits, and then quits that job, why in the world should that person get any special perks? Everyone is not "special". Every group does not need a trophy or continuous accolades. I appreciate those who serve, but I also appreciate farmers who put food on my table, first responders who risk their lives daily, etc.

                    Reply#38 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:03 AM EDT

                    I am not opposed to the push to hire vets, but as a sixty five year old woman who was laid off, I hope there is a push of some sort to hire those of us that are not so young. I have about another month before I will be living in my 20 year old Geo Metro with a 15 year old dachshund and an 18 year old cat. We all need jobs.

                      Reply#39 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:09 AM EDT

                      What jobs could the dog and cat do? Lol, please do not take that wrongly. I agree with you 100% as I am in the same boat as you almost. I am 55 and working for $13.50 an hour after getting a Bachelors Degree two years ago. No one would even interview me.

                        #39.1 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:21 AM EDT

                        You know I thought about that but the dog is totally deaf and the cat thinks he is king, so I am not having any luck with either of them

                          #39.2 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:49 AM EDT

                          Not to take anything from this effort to find jobs for vets, but if there are few jobs for non vets, where will these jobs come from? This may be more of a PR stunt than anything else. It seems locally when there is a jobe fair there are like hundreds of trucking jobs, some few in sales like telemarketing, and a few that plan on hiring sometime with no definite date in mind, Thats where i am coming from.

                          • 1 vote
                          Reply#40 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:11 AM EDT

                          Meanwhile our vets kill themselves at the rate of 22 a day, are living in cardboard boxes and have actually petitioned Obama for help. Did you know that around Camp Lejeune there are many Marines living in the woods? Do you even care? No one in the gov does. But they will argue for weeks over whether Chuck Hagel is patriotic enough to be part of it. You just keep writing paragraphs on the economy, the budget and gay rights, and other BS subjects while the guys you supposedly ''support'' get hardly a word said about them, and die like beggars in the street. The treatment of Vets in the USA is a National disgrace, while we spend countless billions on weapon systems and phony wars, and send our money to places like Syria. And that's the lowdown baby.

                          • 2 votes
                          Reply#41 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:12 AM EDT

                          So if they hire a young deserving veteran does this mean some older man or woman is pushed out of a job? I agree that we need to hire Veterans and anyone else who needs a job. How come this media just does not come out and say the fact there just are not enough good paying jobs available? I am 55 years old and a Veteran and I am making 1/3 of the salary I was earning in 2008. This was after finishing my college degree in 2011 in Business Administration with a 3.8 GPA. No one would even give me an interview because of my age. Go back to when unemployment rates were 4.5% and many would be competing for my services. That is the bottom line to fixing employment for Veterans and everyone else. Get more jobs!

                            Reply#42 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:16 AM EDT

                            Veterans should be given jobs on their own personal merits and not on a govt decree, vets are not hopeless where they need handouts, most are very capable but being honest others aren't so good at holding down a job and being responsible. Some in the military are getting out because they cant handle the structure which means they cant handle being responsible in civilian life as well. Govt decrees wont change that. When I got out no special right to a job was given to me, nor millions in the past.

                              Reply#43 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:20 AM EDT


                              Employers, If You Hire a Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran, You will recieve a $4,600.00 Tax Credit

                              Employers, If You Hire a Wounded Warrior, You will recieve a $ 9,600.00 Tax Credit

                              Our Veterans have EARNED the right to move to the front of the Employment Line & be first with Job Opportunites & Job Interviews. Period End of Story

                              SPW in Alaska Drafted July 1969 Airborne All the Way

                              • 1 vote
                              Reply#44 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:23 AM EDT

                              It is the poor economy plain and simple. Why should an employer pick between needy groups for new hires? The absolute need is to get that unemployment level down to 4-1/2% or lower and then everyone who wants a job will have one. Employers would have to start paying higher wages as they competed for employees.

                                Reply#45 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:26 AM EDT

                                Another example of the dumbing down of America: "everyone who serves in the military is a HERO". Sorry but that just does not get it. If you're decorated for valor, you're a hero otherwise you're a soldier, salior, airman or marine.

                                It may sound like I'm against veterans but I'm not since I am one. What we got from this country when we returned from Vietnam was a kick in the balls for doing what this country ask us to do.

                                  Reply#46 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:32 AM EDT

                                  You are a hero. Don't think for a moment that you aren't.

                                    #46.1 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:59 AM EDT

                                    NICE --FEEL GOOD ARTICLE -- BUT NO Meat on the Bones!

                                    For the Most part these folks have Little or NO Skills Education past HS if that and Little or NO Transferable Skills!

                                    Furthermore, THERE Are FEW JOBS -- Stupid!

                                    ADD the Fact that Most of these folks are NOT PROTECTED Classes -- Why Hire Them?

                                    PLUS -- ONCE the Affirmative Action Immigration Reform Act kicks in-- We can get All the Skills we need from Elsewhere, at the Price we want to Pay, and Meet our Affirmative Action Goals!

                                    THIS truly is The LOST GENERATION -- Plain and Simple!

                                    PS -- Thank the US Military Recruiting Con Job -- What happen to the GI BILL?! -- OH I Forgot this is a Voluntary Service!

                                      Reply#47 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:34 AM EDT

                                      A country that only gives lip service to the men and women that put their lives and their family's future on the line so your fat ass can sit at home is doomed. America's future is lost because of the compassionless population it now must tolerate. This never would have happened in 1945. And we wonder why America is on the decline.

                                      • 2 votes
                                      Reply#48 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:38 AM EDT

                                      Here is a solution:

                                      Spend three trillion dollars in Iraq and kill 4,500 young Patriots

                                      Then, block a one billion dollar job training bill for Veterans in committee with a procedural vote.

                                      Thanks GOP.

                                        Reply#49 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:40 AM EDT

                                        I guess most people are not aware that under sequester active duty Military lost their tuition assistance. The majority of soldiers are enlisted. Many of them attempted to enhance their military training by adding traditional college or technical education. Enlisted salaries, being what they are, rarely have room to fully pay tuition. Most of our current Military are well trained via the Military. Employers have a hard time translating that education on par with traditional college or trade schools. Right now under sequester the jobs that do consider veterans points are being curtailed . It is time to make it very attractive for private employers to employ verterans. The less than 1% of the population that defends us should not have to further struggle after discharge

                                          Reply#50 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:53 AM EDT


                                            #50.1 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:57 AM EDT

                                            The Pentagon ordered that program immediately reinstated, as was directed by Congress.

                                              #50.2 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:02 PM EDT

                                              With over 37 years experience, as an employer, I will say, without hesitation, that the best worker I've ever had was a retired Army Sargent Major. Two of his children also worked with me, and due to his leadership skills, they did more work and better work than people twice their age. I am about to open up the first of a chain of restaurants. Once we offer Franchising opportunities, the general public will have to invest (the numbers are for comparison purposes, only), say $150,000 to become a Franchise owner, plus percentages. Veterans, who served honorably, will be given a large break, and can own a Franchise for $50,000 plus percentages.

                                              You can not really compare a Vet's skills, honesty, and commitment to excellence, to a civilian's. There IS NO comparison. Veterans are FAR, FAR ahead of the pack!

                                              • 1 vote
                                              Reply#51 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:54 AM EDT

                                              Dear Randy, Try a sixty five year old woman who is about to be homless.

                                                #51.1 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:35 PM EDT

                                                Elizabeth...ABSOLUTELY! I'll be hiring at least two senior citizens. Seniors are the MOST dependable of all age groups. Being 65 does not mean you can't work. At that age I'll be TIRED, NOT RE-tired...

                                                  #51.2 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:07 PM EDT

                                                  Starting letting vets push their way to the front of the line and then listem to them whine about their tax dollars going for welfare to the people they cut in front of.

                                                  If a vet has any honor at all, he or she will take their chances along with every other American and stop thinking their entitled to special priviledge just because they decided to go fight for corporate Americas profit margin.

                                                    Reply#52 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:02 PM EDT

                                                    If you had any honor at all, you would have served your country, instead of sucking at the teats of a freedom paid for by our military. They serve with Honor! You don't serve, and your very words are a Dishonor to our country.

                                                      #52.1 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:27 PM EDT

                                                      Square Dude: I can understand your argument, however my son did two 1-year long tours in Iraq. He endured many fire fights and other atrocities that war entails. He came back with significant PTSD to a Country that does not think they "owe" him anything. I beg to differ. He met his obligation and willing did as asked by our Country. What is "owed" him is not an "entitlement." I think part of this entitlement mentality stems from the fact that only a small percentage of our population even knows what it meant to "serve" our Country in this capacity, I support bringing back the draft so that "all citizens" share the burden of what this service really means.

                                                        Reply#53 - Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:04 PM EDT
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