Thursday, November 02, 2006

Greatest Recruiting Experience Ever

Now that I've left the world of tactical technical recruiting, I'm reminded of a truly unique experience, easily the greatest recruiting experience that I ever had. I wanted to tell this story here for a while now, this seemed to be an appropriate time to do it.

From 1992-1998, the Dept. of Defense sponsored overseas job fairs in Europe and the Far East, providing American companies the ability to directly recruit our servicemen and women as they were preparing to separate from the military. The company I was with at the time, Tracor (also known in the mid-late 90s as Vitro, Marconi & finally BAE Systems), was a long-time participant of these events, and the opportunity was provided to me in the spring of 1998 to fly half-way across the world to participate in this wonderful event. For employers, it was a no-brainier as DoD picked up the tab, and provided immediate, unequaled access to hundreds of highly-skilled, disciplined individuals. All we had to pay for was the airfare to and from the rendezvous point in Portland, OR. What we didn't know at the time however was this was going to be the last trip of its kind.

Two of us represented Tracor on this trip, Ron G. and myself. We made it out to Portland and quickly met up with those who we would be spending the next two weeks of our lives with. Larry Harris was our fearless leader (since DoD ended these events, he continued them as a private venture), and about 30+ companies/70+ recruiters were ready to go. The diversity of companies was vast, including government contractors (i.e. Tracor, BDM, Lockheed, etc.), large, well-known employers (i.e.Starbucks, Southwest, Cintas, MCI), security-related employers (i.e. Wackenhut, Washington State Police) and some smaller employers as well.

The trip essentially had three legs, which included two days of job fairs and a day for sight-seeing, and a half-day on each end for travel. The stops included Seoul, Korea; Okinawa, Japan; and Yokosuka, Japan. With 70+ Type-A personality Recruiters on a two week trip on the other side of the planet, you can probably understand that our motto for the trip was "Work Hard, Play Hard". To this day, I have wonderful memories of the trip including:

  • At Yongsan Army Base in Seoul, when the Lockheed recruiter who had a line across the gym for 8 hours straight when a couple busloads of aircraft techs came in from nearby Osan AFB. He got a certificate for his tireless-effort at the end of the day.
  • Meeting the 'grunts' just off of the DMZ at the Yongsan Job Fair. Hardcore.
  • Touring the amazing Korean War Memorial. Best museum I've ever been in.
  • Haggling for a golf glove in the Itaewon district of Seoul, not to mention the offers to sell me "genuine fake Rolex watch".
  • The Walker Hill Show in Seoul. The 'Las Vegas Style' show was no good, but the traditional Asian show was amazing.
  • Walking on an Okinawan beach.
  • The wonderful traditional reception we attended at the Camp Butler Officers Club in Okinawa.
  • Two incredibly busy (and hot) days at the Okinawa job fair.
  • Comedy and fun at the Kadena AB Officers Club.
  • Almost having to buy a round of drinks for everyone at the Yokosuka Officers Club after not removing my cap.
  • Touring a Spruance-Class Destroyer and seeing equipment that Tracor had developed installed on the ship.
  • A tour of Tokyo which included the Tokyo Tower, the Ginza District, and both Shinto and Buddhist temples.
  • Karaoke in downtown Yokosuka.
  • A visit to the 'Great Buddha' at Kamakura.
  • The 24 hours it took to get from the hotel in Yokosuka to home.
  • The three days of jet-lag that followed.

We had a great time, and made a huge impact as well. Ron and I brought back over 500 resumes and Tracor ended up hiring over 25 of those who we met on the trip. Although DoD discontinued the trips shortly after the one we participated in, it's wonderful that Larry Harris continues these trips 8 years later, providing our brave service men and women a great opportunity to meet employers face-to-face before they move on to the next career.

If anyone who reads this post was on a DoD-sponsored overseas job fair from 1992-98, I'd love to hear your stories and memories. If there is anyone who sees this who was on the '98 Far East trip, I'd love to reconnect with you. In the meantime, here's some old pictures from the trip that I was able to scan and share.


At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben...Jack Wootton here and i was was on most of the trips from 92 to 98 with Radio Shack at the time.
great pictures and a grea time
thanks for the memories


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