Job seekers and recruiters alike have had to increasingly rely on technology as an integral part of the job search journey. Chicago Urban League’s first Virtual Career Fair was a true example of that new reality. Just over 1,000 job seekers registered for the event to connect with a dozen of Chicago’s premier employers, including Skills for Chicagoland’s Future. From the perspective of two of our own recruiters who attended the fair to meet with job seekers, “it was not much different from an in-person event.” Philip De Guzman, a Talent Acquisition Lead for Skills added, “It was great! I was able to connect with some impressive candidates, and I look forward to helping them in the next stage of their employment journey.”
We were able to catch up with Director of Workforce Development, Andrew Wells; a leader at CUL and a major driver of the planning and executing this annual event. Here is what he had to say about this year’s virtual fair.
Can you give me a brief history of the Urban League’s Citywide Job Fair. What prompted the first one? How has it evolved?
The Citywide Job Fair (CWJF) started in February 2014. The Workforce Development team and I thought it would be great to provide clients with another avenue to access job opportunities. With the help of our marketing and branding team, we positioned it to be the biggest job fair in the city of Chicago – hence the Citywide Job Fair.
Was there any debate on going virtual this year?
No, but there was doubt. We almost cancelled it 3 weeks ago. We just did not see the employer registrations at that time.
Has there been much of a learning curve going virtual?
Yes. We learned that with a physical fair, the employer just has to register and show up. With the virtual, they have to work and submit things in a timely fashion. You will get information late and those same employers will be upset if they cannot participate.
Apart from the event being online, are there aspects of the event that job seekers can expect to experience that they may not have experienced at other CUL Job fairs?
I am working with my tech partners to see what’s possible. I believe all things are permissible and I have a very creative team.
Do you all anticipate making the virtual event a long-term option?
The verdict is out on that. However, we are thinking about hosting a summer virtual job fair that will be bigger.
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