FSU to Host 5th Annual Conference
Thousands of service members transition out of the military each year, making the jump to civilian life. Often, veterans’ experience and skills are difficult to quantify to companies and hiring agencies. Fayetteville State University’s Annual Boots to Suits Conference which will take place in August serves to bridge the gap between service members and hiring managers by educating agencies and companies on the benefits that veterans could have on their organizations, which benefits both the hiring agencies as well as the veterans.
In 2011, there were 859,000 veterans from all wars and service periods that were without jobs. The State of North Carolina alone had a job shortfall of 515,000 (pre-recession levels). In support of workforce development and veteran employment, the FSU Department of Social Work established the conference in 2012 and it has grown each year. This year they have partnered with the Non Commissioned Officers Association, military.com, and have several major sponsors.
Dr. Mark Marquez, Assistant Professor in the Social Work Department at Fayetteville State is the Planning Committee Chair for the last three conferences.
“Boots to Suits was originally set up to prepare hiring managers to educate them on what military personnel could bring to the private sector,” Marquez said. “Several years ago a lot of military needed jobs but people didn’t know what knowledge skills and abilities could be transferred to the civilian world. This conference has evolved from not just educating hiring managers but now has a job fair component to it.”
The mission of the conference is to provide hiring managers and human resources professionals with the strategies of recruiting today's competitive military talent, to discuss the value of employing veterans and their spouses, and to encourage them to adopt military-friendly hiring practices. It also serves to provide veterans the opportunity to focus on transitioning to a different job or career through a hiring fair where employers can speak to veterans one-on-one to learn the unique skills and value they can add to a workplace.
“Service members bring a lot of organization and self discipline,” Marquez said. “They bring a fundamental good work ethic which can fit into any skill knowledge set area.”
This year’s conference has two components – the first is for the vendors to learn about the military and what veterans can offer their companies and organizations. The second component is for veterans which will include training in areas such as how to present themselves, how to interview, and military.com will be there with computers to help work on and upload resumes. The second day of the conference is the hiring fair.
The Boots to Suits Conference is targeted to military service personnel of all ranks and specialties but anyone affiliated or associated with the military are welcome.
The conference will take place on Monday and Tuesday, August 14-15, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It will be held at the Iron Mike Conference Center on Fort Bragg. More than 65 vendors are expected, including law enforcement agencies, universities, numerous companies and government agencies among others.
“For service members, come talk to employers who understand what you really have to offer them. For the vendors, there will be service personnel ready to positively impact your organization with little lea-up time because they are so trainable,” Marquez said. “By understanding each other, both service members and vendors can be successful in this experience.”