Marisa DeWalt went to Fort Bragg near Fayetteville, N.C., looking for a job.
It’s only natural DeWalt would go to an Army post since she recently retired after 22 years in the Army, serving most recently as a culinary arts instructor. The drawing card on that day in July was a Duke Energy job fair and the company’s plan to hire 36 veterans or military spouses for customer service roles at the Fayetteville and Raleigh call centers.
DeWalt was there with about 50 others who attended seminars and chatted with recruiters.
“I love customer service and I love being able to tackle issues,” she said. “I feel like the Army prepared me for a job in customer service; it allowed me to interact with a diverse group of people. I love a challenge and have something put before me and find a resolution that makes everyone happy.”
“We are looking for the best,” said Charlie Spicer, Duke Energy’s lead military recruiter. “We find an enormous amount of value in hiring military and spouses of service members. Their ability to work safely and their ability to work on a team are traits we like to see in our employees.”
Spicer heads the company’s effort to recruit veterans, at career fairs, through nonprofits, and at information sessions at military installations and through social media. Duke Energy seeks veterans, in part, because of their ability to work on a team, their focus on safety and the belief they are serving something greater than themselves. About 2,000 veterans work at the company.
At one of the sessions, Spicer told the hopefuls that Duke Energy has a work environment where employees can “learn, grow and be developed,” and that the company wanted individuals who can represent the company well.
“Duke Energy has an obligation for quality customer service,” Spicer told them. “Interacting with customers is the most important thing we do.”
That sounded ideal to potential applicant Mark Curry, a Gastonia, N.C., native and veteran of the North Carolina Army National Guard. Curry, a manager trainee at Waffle House, knows what it’s like to serve customers.
“I feel like my time in the service prepared me for a customer service position,” he said. “I used to be very shy … but now I’ve walked the walk and am ready to talk the talk.”
The Fort Bragg event was one of dozens of job fairs conducted by Duke Energy in 2017 throughout the company’s service territories in the Carolinas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
While neither DeWalt nor Curry got a position at the job fair, they’re hopeful they’ll land something in the future.
5 tips for job applicants
Recruiter Charlie Spicer’s tips for a successful job search:
Lose the jargon. Hiring managers may not understand military terms like “senior enlisted advisor.” Use terms your audience can understand.
Intangibles matter. Military specialties may transfer to civilian jobs. Focus on the intangibles that military folk have such as ability to work on a team, safety, leadership, ability to adapt.
Leverage your network. Other veterans can be a great resource. Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, non-military friends, mentoring organizations like veteran nonprofits and Veterati.
Solidify your experience. Get that degree, certification or credential before you transition.
Find the military recruiters. Many companies have military recruiters. Use them to help you during your transition.