When Fort Bliss career advisors ask clients to describe a military life challenge, one thing is always high on the list – finding a job. It is often portrayed as a game changer, full of uncertainty and countless hours looking for work. It can feel like an endless journey.
To address these challenges, there is a central resource to assist all Department of Defense ID card holders throughout their job search.
The Fort Bliss Army Community Service’s Employment Readiness Program provides assistance with resume writing, interview skills, referrals, and personal career planning. ERP consultants work with each client individually to develop a resume that reflects all of their skills and experience, said Ernie Valtier, ERP specialist.
“Creating a résumé takes patience. It keeps evolving and changing every time you apply for a new job. So there really isn’t a definitive copy, ”he said. “I encourage all of my clients to give themselves time to invest in their resumes and not try to write everything down in one day.”
While Valtier’s roster of clients ranges from soldier to retired transitioners, from military spouses to Department of Defense civilians, his advice remains consistent throughout the job search process. “Do everything step by step. Finding employment can be an overwhelming process, but that is why we are here to help everyone find work, ”he said.
Co-adviser and military spouse Roman Galiki said ACS programs had influenced him during his 23 years of military service and now it is his turn to help the military community through the ERP.
“Our clients are driving this process forward and we want to make sure their résumés are up to standard for every hiring manager,” he said. “We want to give them the critical tools they need to transition into a new career.”
After registering with the ERP program, customers will be placed on an active email list and receive monthly job leads with training opportunities for the Fort Bliss and El Paso communities. Career planning courses will also continue to be offered, but have been moved to a virtual platform to be in line with COVID-19 harm control guidelines.
All ERP courses and workshops are free and the topics can vary every month. Participants can learn how to start a business and the differences between civil and federal CV application formats. Instructors also discuss networking skills and dress code for face-to-face and virtual interviews.
ERP specialist Denise Carothers primarily advises military spouses, saying the majority of employers are reluctant to invest their time and resources in training military spouses because of the upcoming military transitions. However, she assures spouses that they have just as much to offer as competing candidates and that their skills should be reflected on their resume.
“I help spouses incorporate common military traits like resilience, dependability and versatility into assets that can be highlighted as strengths on their résumé,” said Carothers. “I also support them in achieving their long-term and short-term career goals through frequent meetings and workshops.”
Carothers confirmed that employers are still hiring, and although ERP job fairs look different than traditional crowded venues, they are still held through Microsoft teams.
“I carefully prepare my clients for potential jobs through bogus interviews and really listen to what career paths they want to take,” she said. “I am looking for everything that will be an employment benefit and I am helping to make it more marketable.”
Despite all of the courses and workshops offered, Carothers has cleared up a common misunderstanding that pops up in all of their classes.
“Job seekers don’t have to be bilingual to find work in El Paso. Many job descriptions may state that your company “prefers” a bilingual candidate, but this is not a “required” candidate. I don’t want this misunderstanding to prevent someone from looking for the job of their dreams, ”said Carothers.
“All of our consultants are here to make a positive difference, and ultimately we want all of our clients to be successful – that is the ultimate goal.”
For more information on registering for the Fort Bliss Employment Readiness Program and upcoming courses, workshops and job fairs, please call 915-569-5838 or visit the website or Facebook page.
Author: Stephanie Santos – Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office