There are more than 45,000 service members at Jacksonville, North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station. When Kimberly Williams became the city’s HR chief 10 years ago, she sought to tap into exiting service members for job placement.
“I thought I would use my knowledge, skills and abilities from a lifelong career in human resources to help our transitioning service members, our Guard and reserve members, our veterans and their military spouses secure meaningful employment – not just a job but meaningful employment,” Williams says.
Then she started to look bigger.
Statewide, more than 25,000 service members leave the military each year looking for their next career and home. Williams wanted them to stay in North Carolina, so she worked with the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission to establish a public-private partnership called North Carolina for Military Employment (NC4ME), which is now in its seventh year as a non-profit initiative reporting regularly to the governor’s office.
NC4ME rethinks traditional job search assistance with more of a matchmaking approach, Williams says, citing a low success rate for job seekers attending large, open job fairs.
“You basically get a frisbee and some candy, and you give your resume out, you probably don’t get a call back, and those events have about a 2% success rate,” she says. “We have hiring events. We get 30 or 40 companies, and we identify the jobs that they’re looking to fill. We look at the knowledge, skills and abilities to drive that job. Then we match them to our 200 to 300 veterans looking for jobs, and we set up interviews.”
NC4ME also educates employers on the value veterans can bring to their workplaces, including the wide range of skills that exists in the military.
“I always tell my employers, ‘Look, you trust them with your country, you can certainly trust them with your company,’” Williams says.
Part of a series honoring ADC’s Defense Community Champions
Williams and ADC President Bob Ross. ADC photo by Will Noonan