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Virtual Job Search: 5 Ways Workforce Development Professionals Can Use Technology to Help Jobseekers

Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist ·

America’s job market has been hit hard. Unemployment is at record highs close to the Great Depression, which means more jobseekers than ever are competing for open positions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for April 2020 spiked to 14.7% as 20.5 million workers were let go from their jobs in response to the coronavirus.

What do these bleak numbers mean for jobseekers? It means you have to get creative in your job search strategies. Workforce Development Boards (WDBs) can be a big support in this endeavor. If your job is to help jobseekers find employment, this article is for you! You’ll learn how to best leverage the use of technology to serve jobseekers during this economically challenging time in our society.

"One great thing about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is its advocacy of the use of technology for the improvement of teaching, learning, professional development, productivity, system efficiencies and accessibility. With American Job Centers temporarily limiting public access, we will continue to expand our online toolkit of resources to continue to provide needed services to jobseekers and employers."

Esther Salata, Recruiter at CareerLink- Lehigh Valley, PA

Some of these questions might be crossing your mind … How is it possible to efficiently and effectively service the millions of displaced workers now? What is the best way to meet jobseekers’ needs once the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but there is a very valuable tool we can use … technology!

To serve jobseekers and clients while working remotely, AJC’s across the country have adapted their enrollment and service processes by utilizing a variety of online resources, including digital tools and software, while meeting all the eligibility requirements associated with WIOA. The following are examples of remote service offerings:

  • Helping coordinate and schedule online interviews
  • Conducting virtual job fairs
  • Conducting real-time, virtual education and training workshops
  • Conducting skill assessments
  • Conducting online trainings and webinars
  • Utilizing “E-Signature” software to obtain signatures in a secure manner
  • Converting documents so that information can be electronically transmitted to customers
  • Providing a secure email address for documents to be transmitted

During the COVID-19 crisis, people are using all sorts of technology to stay connected and access needed information, services and resources. Check out these job search findings from Job Seeker Trends 2015: Channels, Search Time, and Income Change.

About 55 percent of survey respondents looked for new jobs online, compared with 36 percent who searched through paper media like newspaper ads, 33 percent who relied on referrals, 24 percent who inquired directly with a prospective employer, 20 percent who used public services and 17 percent who went through employment agencies.

Essential businesses such as government, healthcare and the service industry are conducting business by communicating through social media tools, virtual meeting software and video conferencing. Which brings me to the first way to use technology to land a job.

5 Ways Workforce Development Professionals Can Use Technology to Help Jobseekers

1) Video Technology for Job Preparation and Mock Interviewing

Once your jobseeker is invited to interview with a company, it’s time to help them get a feel for the interview process. They could start by watching some interview sessions on YouTube to get familiar with the setting, tone and common type of questions. Encourage the jobseeker to do a mock interview with a job coach, career center representative, instructor or even a family member. The mock interview can take place via video conferencing software such as Facetime, Skype, Zoom, etc. Check out the video below that simulates a mock interview using virtual reality software used by an EDSI instructor.

VR Interview Example

Once the interview is scheduled, the employer will indicate whether it will be an in-person or virtual format. If it’s virtual, a video interview presents an excellent alternative to meeting the employer in person.

In the same method as an in-person interview, be sure to have the jobseeker practice their responses to anticipated questions prior to the interview in a mock interview session. Remember to have them think about the questions they would have for the potential employer, as well as what they want to express about themselves and their experience.

Before a video interview, it is recommended for jobseekers to create a professional looking “set” with a neat office area and plain wall background if possible. Grooming and appropriate attire are important.

Since many jobs are currently remote, jobseekers should be prepared to discuss their best work from home practices.

2) Virtual Employer Recruitment Events & Job Fairs

Learning Management systems or other online platforms create a forum to host virtual job fairs that connect employers and jobseekers. Jobseekers are able to meet directly with employers. Employers offer resources and information about their company and open positions through handouts, links to their webpage, videos to watch and one-on-one interview time slots to meet with candidates. Other resources include presentations, Q&A sessions and more.

3) Professional Networking

Online social media platforms such as LinkedIn offer jobseekers a plethora of resources when it comes to networking, job hunting and interviewing. If jobseekers don’t already have a profile on LinkedIn, be sure to strongly encourage that they register and set one up. They will be able to upload their resume for free and connect with other professionals as well as view job openings and apply for open positions. The Groups function on LinkedIn is also valuable because you can join different professional organizations or associations that will provide connections to a network of contacts and increase the jobseeker’s likelihood of landing a job.

4) New Skills, Staffing Firms and Research

Jobseekers should consider learning new skills or even enrolling in an online certificate or degree program prior to or during job searching. There are free online courses on educational sites such as Kahn Academy or Coursera. College courses taught by high-caliber, qualified professors and instructors are offered online for free and the option to earn a certificate for a fee is also available.

Temporary staffing firms are also a viable option for many jobseekers. Contingent labor is essential in uncertain economic times because it allows companies to take a paced approach to their recovery and it gives job candidates more say and flexibility when it comes to what kind of job, hours and duties will best work for their individual situation.

Researching companies and opportunities online can be very beneficial. One helpful idea jobseekers can try is to make a target list of companies in their area where they would potentially like to work. Then they can look up the company’s website to learn more about it and check their hiring page to see if any jobs are available. Suggest that jobseekers schedule a time on their calendar every week to prompt them to check each company’s site on a regular basis to monitor any new openings that might be posted.

5) Volunteer From a Distance

A great way for jobseekers to gain relevant experience and bridge employment gaps is to volunteer in the community. Even though many in-person opportunities are temporarily unavailable, there are virtual options where people can still make a difference! There are charities for nearly every topic you can think of, so be sure to encourage jobseekers to do their own research based on their personal interest or cause that’s close to their hearts.

Here is a sampling of organizations who offer ways to volunteer virtually.

Although hiring has definitely slowed down overall, it is still possible to find employment. Many industries are still hiring, including:

  • Grocery stores
  • Shipping and delivery companies
  • Construction and landscaping services
  • Large technology companies
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Cleaning and sanitation businesses
  • News networks
  • Online learning businesses

Have you considered using new virtual service strategies? Have you assessed what resources you might need to provide these services? Have you developed regional strategy that aligns center resources, services and outreach activities with other partners?

Please Contact Us if You Would Like Additional Perspective or Assistance

EDSI operates workforce development programs in 8 states and we are currently working with state and local partners on COVID-19 recovery plans. We can customize these plans and best practices by state or region to find the best path forward.

Please fill out the form below or email us at info@edsiosolutions.com if you’d like one of our workforce development experts to contact you and help you find more solutions for your jobseekers.