Selma job fair helps military recruiters find candidates

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 6:42 PM CDT
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SELMA, Ala. (WSFA) - U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell hosted her 11th annual job fair in her hometown of Selma Thursday, giving employers the opportunity to find qualified candidates.

Seventy employers from 14 different industries participated, including the military. The U.S. armed forces has been especially impacted by the pandemic and a tight labor market.

A recent report from NBC says every branch of the U.S. military is struggling to meet its fiscal year 2022 recruiting goals because of a record-low number of Americans eligible to serve, and few of those willing to do it.

Recruiters at Sewell’s job fair said it can be a challenge to get people to join the armed forces, but it might be because they have misinformation. Air Force recruiter Jennifer Liddicoat said if people aren’t willing to come forward and ask about information, they may never know they can actually qualify.

“It’s my job to be able to have a conversation, figure out what motivates you, what are some of your immediate and long-term goals, and how can the reserve work with you to attain them,” Liddicoat said.

Changes in policy can affect your eligibility, but Liddicoat said to not be turned away by an initial “no” when qualifications may have changed.

“We have to take a test, the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), and if people don’t qualify doesn’t mean that you can’t retake the test,” Liddicoat said.

Recruiters did say they’ve been hit especially hard by the pandemic, with social distancing impacting their ability to recruit face to face.

“Going into schools was impossible for probably the past two years,” said Army recruiter William Barnes.

Recruiters added that you can serve part time in the armed forces with a full-time civilian job. Also, the military offers a variety of benefits, including healthcare and help with college tuition.

“There’s a Montgomery G.I. bill and a G.I. bill kicker, which is essentially money for your college,” Barnes said.

Recruiters also say just because you join the military doesn’t mean you will go to war. There are hundreds of other job opportunities available.

According to NBC, the Army is offering flexible two-year to six-year contracts, duty stations of choice, a program where enlistees can be stationed with their friends, and a $10,000 quick-ship bonus.

Some of the service branches are offering unprecedented bonuses for signing up or reenlisting, up to $50,000 for certain specialties in the Army, Air Force and the Navy.

Each year, Sewell alternates between hosting her job fair in urban and rural regions to ensure the needs of all communities are met.

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