Patent office to hold veterans career fair to tap IT talent

Patent office CIO John Owens interviews a veteran applying for an IT job at the job fair last year. (USPTO)

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The patent office’s IT division is looking to recruit veterans to help protect America’s intellectual property.

At its second annual IT career fair for veterans, slated for next week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will be scouting for applicants to fill as many as 200 open positions in areas like software development, software engineering and systems engineering.

Most veterans who are searching for government jobs might first look to the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, but many other vets have found a home at the patent office, USPTO Chief Information Officer John Owens told FedScoop.

Owens said about 38 percent of the more than 550 people who work in the CIO’s office served in the military. Last year, the agency hired more than 40 veterans from the fair.

“Veterans make fantastic employees,” Owens told FedScoop. “They have to have the technical skills, but you never really have problems with commitment, with leadership, with loyalty.”

The patent office has several major IT projects in the works, including the recently released “Patents End-to-End” — an effort to provide a single interface for examiners evaluating patent applications. It’s also planning to unveil a number of other projects later this year.

The event will feature a panel of veterans now working at the patent office who will discuss making the transition from active duty to federal service. Owens, who will also speak at the event, said there will be human resources staff on hand to help applicants sort through the onerous process of applying for positions through USAJobs.gov.

“It’s not always clear – particularly to someone who’s not familiar with the federal system – [when someone gets] preference, how to apply, what am I being asked,” he said.

He added, “Things have gotten better. But it is confusing.”

Recent veterans, those who served after September 2001, have a 6.9 percent unemployment rate, compared to the nationwide 5.5 percent unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The event will take place at the patent office’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, on April 17 from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m., and April 18 from 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is now closed for the event, but USPTO is accepting walk-ins.

“You don’t have to be in uniform to protect America’s assets – we really do believe that,” Owens said.

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Commerce Department, Departments, Government IT News, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), workforce
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