For companies hiring right now, ensuring you're hiring the most qualified candidate can be tricky. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses approach hiring and are forcing them to recruit remotely.
"Everything we’ve always done previously has been in person. It’s always been encouraged to do in-person, face-to-face communication. From a job seeker's perspective, obviously, it helps to be in-person and kind of take their facial cues and whatnot, so we really had to change everything we were doing," says Erik Cherkaski with the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board.
Cherkaski says one of his main jobs is to recruit employees for local businesses. Because of the pandemic, their recruiting services are now virtual. Recently, the organization has been holding virtual job fairs for a number of large employers.
"I think one day we had logistics, so we had some of our local fulfillment centers on. Another day we had the service industry on, so some of the local retailers that were doing mass hiring [participated]. Then, we had a focus on government, as well. So, some of the local and state organizations that were doing some hiring and we had some very good turnout. This was new territory for us," said Cherkaski.
Employers held virtual presentations for candidates who tuned in using online meeting platforms like Zoom and Webex.
"It was very engaging. We got good feedback from our employers and we are looking to do it again. So that was very positive for us to see that we can do something like this online," said Cherkaski.
College students and recent graduates are also finding their first career move by participating in online events. Handshake, which helps connect more than 500,000 employers with college students looking for a job or internship, says it's expanding it's virtual services to accommodate universities who've put their in-person career fairs on hold.
"There are a lot of opportunities that do still exist even with the change in the economy this particular year. We have so many students across so many different walks of life that are looking in for those opportunities to be able to just jump start their career," said Christine Cruzvergara, with Handshake.
To help, Handshake created a new virtual engagement module.
"That is going to allow employers to be able to actually segment, campaign and reach out to candidates that meet the different criteria and qualifications that they are looking for, across all of our thousands of universities and colleges. They can go beyond the basic qualifications in a virtual fair to be even more tailored around, for example, some of their DEI requirements or their goals," said Cruzvergara.
Handshake hopes the new tools not only help employers narrow down the types of students they want to hire, but also helps students.
"It's going to allow students to maximize the time they do have in between classes or in-between their part time jobs or things they might be doing other responsibilities or obligations they have," said Cruzvergara.
As for how long Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board will be holding their recruiting events virtually, Cherkaski said, "if you were to have asked me this four months ago I would have said, Oh this isn’t going to go on too long but now we're four months in and I suspect were going to be doing this for the foreseeable future."
Both Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board and Handshake believe even when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted completely, employers will still want to use virtual recruiting events to widen their candidate search.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Christine Cruzvergara's last name.