Yes, the workforce is slowly recovering from the 10.0 magnitude earthquake that it suffered in March of 2020. To put things into perspective Florida’s unemployment rate had dropped to 2.8 percent in January and February 2020, which, together with November 2019, became the lowest recorded unemployment rate since the series began in 1976.

With the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak, the unemployment rate spiked to 13.8 percent in April 2020, handily surpassing the prior peak rate of 11.3 percent experienced in January 2010 during the Great Recession. The change was breathtaking. Over the space of two months, the unemployment rate shifted from a near 50‐year low to a near 50‐year high.

Today, the new unemployment report (March 16th, 2021) states that Florida has dropped back down to a 4.8%. The Sun-Sentinel reports that there were still 482,000 Floridians who remained jobless out of a workforce of slightly under 10.1 million, the state Department of Economic Opportunity said Monday.

Economic development promoters made a point of noting that the state rate is now below the U.S. jobless figure of 6.3% for January. While those are all great numbers to report, it might worry hiring managers and companies that have open positions and are struggling to find qualified candidates.

That’s why the companies that quickly implemented a virtual hiring event strategy were able to meet their staffing needs. Virtual events increase the job candidate pool, make your company more competitive and relevant, and allow you to build relationships that can strengthen your potential candidate ‘bench’.

The Hiring Lessons we Learned from COVID

Virtual is the ‘New-Normal’

There are a lot of lessons and some that we are still learning. A few of them stand out over the rest. First and foremost, COVID accelerated the pace at which companies turned to virtual or remote hiring by 3 to 5 years. The lesson is, we need to be as prepared as possible and have back-up or contingency plans in place because this was not the first disruption and it won’t be the last.

Let’s face it, without a Pandemic, the vast majority of us would have been complacent with the status quo, hosting and traveling to in-person job fairs. COVID disrupted that severely and new options had to be embraced because doing nothing was not an option.

Besides the threat of ‘social distancing disrupting the workforce, the truth is everything continues to migrate more and more online. Just as retail will never be the same, and foot traffic to retailers will continue to decline, hiring will never be the same. Virtual hiring events have been embraced by everyone who has participated in an event, and for those who haven’t, it’s just a matter of time.

If the U.S. business owner has proven to be anything, it’s resilient, and resilience often requires the ability to quickly pivot. The schools, companies, and organizations that pivoted quickly and adopted virtual hiring events early in the Pandemic have proven how much more efficient, effective, and ultimately successful it has proven to be.

The Only Constant is Change

The second lesson is one you’ve heard before; the only constant is change. We learned that just about everyone prefers to apply online, rather than wait in-line. Virtual hiring is the evolution of hiring, the next step, and clearly the better option. It made it much easier for organizations to hire more efficiently and effectively, and for job-seekers to attend and get hired! Although many were reluctant at first, one step into the virtual lobby, and everything changed!

These events mirror in-person events, and attendees can quickly see exactly what is being offered, and how to find what they are looking for. Being able to chat or even video-interview on the spot for a job that they are interested in is a total game-changer. Ask any job-seeker that attended a virtual job fair, and the large majority will tell you that it was highly productive.

The same holds for the hiring companies that can get a much better feel for a candidate than they can from reading a resume on Indeed. The additional real-time engagement allows candidates and recruiters to ask more questions and rate candidates based on their responses.

The post-event reporting allows recruiters to gather much more information from a virtual event than they ever could during in-person events. This allows for better follow-up and a higher likelihood to make an offer to the right candidate, rather than the only candidate.

We’ve seen the difference in our own hiring efforts. An ad on Indeed will get you resumes, but that’s just the very beginning of the process if you’re lucky enough to receive one from a qualified candidate. In our last job posting, we received zero resumes, and it was an entry-level position.

On the contrary, a recent statewide job fair that the Premier Virtual platform powered in Virginia had 350 hiring companies, and over 15,000 registered job-seekers. The event was hosted by the workforce board of Virginia, Virginia CareerWorks. It shattered every previous record for a career fair and also taught us another valuable lesson.

This statewide career fair would have been impossible if not for the virtual platform. Could you imagine choosing a location in Virginia, where 350 companies would travel to set up and 15,000 job seekers would travel to attend? The logistics and expenses and time to plan would be so massive, it would most likely be impossible to pull off in a timely manner, not to mention the unmanageable lines that 15,000 job seekers would have to stand on.

So, back to our current 4.8% unemployment rate, it’s great if your company is fully staffed, but what company really is? Improving our company means having the best people possible, which requires different strategies in and of itself, like developing a bench.

But if you think you can rely simply on a job board like Recruiter or Indeed, then you’re not putting yourself in the best position to succeed. Job candidates now want to know as much about you, as you do about them, and they don’t want to schedule an interview and travel to your office to do so. They would much rather get that all done online, during your virtual career fair, from the comfort of their home (or car or coffee shop).

It saves everyone time and wasted energy if the job or job-seeker was not a good fit in the first place. It also gives your company more accessible to the working job-seeker, than a company that does not offer virtual job fairs. Now that both the job seeker and hiring manager have fully embraced these virtual events, there is no going back, and why should you. Virtual or remote hiring is simply a better way to hire.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with one thought. If you do plan on turning to in-person events, make sure to offer a ‘hybrid’ option. This allows any candidate or employer that cannot or chooses not to make it in person, an opportunity to still participate without the need for more space or travel expenses.

This is the evolution of hiring, and once you integrate it into your hiring strategy, you’ll never go back to in-person only job fairs and hiring events. If your company, school, or organization is looking for a virtual hiring event platform option, please contact us for a free demo and see how Premier Virtual is setting the standard in our industry.