COVID-19 has not only left millions unemployed, it has changed the way people look for jobs.
The pandemic has accelerated the transition to virtual job hunts and online interviews.
Employers have had to figure out innovative ways to practice social distancing and conduct outreach to potential employees.
Security company Securitas recently had a drive-thru job fair and an online job fair event that attracted over 100 participants.
Hiring and Recruiting Manager Jefferson Niles said employers can still get a sense of a candidate through virtual interviews.
“You can still get an idea of their overall appearance,” Niles said. “Are they sitting outside with a tank top, or are they sitting at their desk, groomed and wearing professional clothes?”
“Make sure you’re in a well-lit area and it’s quiet,” he continued. “It looks unprofessional if your wife, mom or child comes running in and they’re yelling at you.”
Judy Bishop, president of Bishop &Co., said the company gives job seekers tips on how to prepare for virtual interviews, noting that they are encouraged to learn how to work the technology before the interview date.
“What I would say to a job seeker is to really put a lot of time, energy and thought into where else you can work besides where you were working or where you were looking for work,” she said. “Think about what your skills could apply to down a different road, and take the time to explore doing that.”
In a nationwide effort to give job seekers a boost of help, free professional head shots were given July 22 at Ala Moana Center, attracting 27 people.
Reid Takara, 42, arrived about 45 minutes early to the event. He was so anxious that he realized he’d left his nice aloha shirt in the car.
Takara and his wife have been unemployed since March while raising their 4-year-old son with assistance from stimulus checks.
“This isn’t a good feeling to be in right now because of the coronavirus,” he said.
Takara was general manager at the District Nightclub in Waikiki. Unsure of when he will return to work, he said he’s keeping his options open and hopes he lands a job that he enjoys.
Scott Creel, senior marketing manager at Ala Moana Center, said that “you only have one chance to make a first impression.”
According to professional social network LinkedIn, a professional head shot leads to 21 times more profile views and nine times more people to connect with.
“The important thing about the head shot is it’s become the cornerstone of a person’s professional digital identity,” Creel said. “You can’t just get by with a resume anymore. People are searching everything about you in the digital world, and a professional head shot speaks to the kind of person that you would be to being a potential employee.”
Beth Busch, executive director of WorkForce Job Fairs, said the closure of the Blaisdell Center, where job fairs were held, made WorkForce pivot from in-person to virtual job fairs.
There is a mobile app that job seekers will have to download on their phone. Once a job seeker creates his or her profile, they will receive notifications about the job fair.
About 100 employers have signed up so far, Busch said in an email.
The Chamber of Commerce recently launched “Hawaii Is Hiring,” a website that connects Hawaii residents to job opportunities and training programs.
The website lists more than 16,000 jobs available statewide, including retail salesperson, network and systems administrator, and security guard.
“Due to COVID-19, nearly 100,000 Hawaii residents are currently looking for work,” Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, said in a news release. “And as expanded unemployment ends, need will only grow.”