Staff Sgt. Jack McClernon got out of the Army in May and had been to two job fairs before dropping in on the "Hiring Our Heroes -- Sugar Grove " job fair at Waubonsee Community College on Friday.
The Oswego resident is taking classes this summer and fall at Waubonsee.
"I'm looking for something first shift," he said, noting he'd probably passed out 15 of his stack of 30 resumes in the early going. "This one is better (than other job fairs). There's more employers, less people. You just walk right up. People talk to you. There should be more (of these fairs)."
McClernon was one of 150 veterans who registered in advance for the fair, which was open to veterans and their spouses. Other veterans were part of a walk-up contingent, but had to show military ID for admittance.
Shaun Carter, regional events associate with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the primary sponsor of the event, said 70 businesses participated at the first "Hiring Our Heroes" fair held at Waubonsee.
"A lot of them are just happy we can put the jobseekers and legitimate employers under one roof. A lot of them are just happy to see that they have options," Carter said. "Everybody's been wonderful and we definitely hope to make our mark here again."
According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, employers in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area added 32,000 jobs in the last year. In June 2011, the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area had an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent but the rate was 9.4 percent for June 2012, the most recent figures available, according to IDES.
In addition to tables set up for employers, participants also had the chance to have someone review a resume or conduct a mock interview.
Of the companies represented, some were national and many were based in the suburbs.
Greg Kogut, territory manager for North Aurora-based Oberweis Dairy, said the company was looking to fill 12 positions, including 10 for sales representatives, one in the finance department and a newly created job in the wholesale department.
"This (job fair) is still not done yet. I've got some good candidates," he said.
West Chicago-based Jel-Sert Co., which makes sweeteners, was looking to fill seven positions.
Alma Camarena, a human resources generalist at Jel-Sert, said some veterans have the experience to work on some of Jel-Sert's heavy machinery and equipment.
"There are a lot of veterans coming back. We want to do our part. There are some veterans already in our company. We know how hard it can be to come back and readjust," she said.
Marvis Cox, who completed 9½ years in the Army and left as a sergeant, said Friday was his first "Hiring Our Heroes" fair and he was impressed.
"It's pretty cool. There are a great variety of things." said Cox, of Montgomery. "This is fair."
Since its launch in March 2011, "Hiring Our Heroes" has held more than 210 hiring fairs across the country, helping more than 10,000 veterans and military spouses find employment, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Friday's event also is part of "Hiring 500,000 Heroes," a national campaign announced by the U.S. Chamber, National Chamber Foundation, and Capital One, to engage the business community in committing to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014.