CLEVELAND — A major hiring event starts next week. Job seekers get ready: You're invited to a virtual job fair. Usually, a job fair is held in-person; you shake hands and talk face-to-face, but the coronavirus pandemic has changed that.
Thousands of people have lost their jobs in the pandemic fallout and hundreds of open positions will be up for grabs at this event.
It is the first time Cuyahoga County has held a virtual job fair. They say about 100 employers are signed up to meet you once you sign in to the virtual job fair.
Some of the companies that'll be there include: University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio Savings Bank, and Giant Eagle. Open positions range from entry-level to executive roles.
"I think that this virtual job fair can give hope to the community," said Frank Brickner is the interim CEO of Ohio Means Jobs Cleveland-Cuyahoga County.
Brickner says from mid-March through May, 136,000 Cuyahoga County residents filed for unemployment.
He says people were blindsided when they lost their jobs and wondered what to do next. They hope the virtual job fair will provide answers.
"Our hope is the vast majority of them will be able to go back to work from where they came," he said. "But we understand for many individuals and citizens that won't be the case. This could be an opportunity for an individual to pivot to a new career and find out what other opportunities exist."
You must register to take part in the virtual job fair. The local office for OhioMeansJobs says more than 800 people are already signed up. For comparison, organizers say last year for their big in-demand jobs push, a little more than 300 people participated. They say they advertised that event for a couple months. The virtual job fair has just been talked about for about a week and already seen hundreds sign up.
Once you register, you create a profile where you can upload a photo and resume. That is optional, but organizers strongly recommend uploading your resume because employers can search resumes and reach out directly to you.
Companies are listed in alphabetical order on the site. Once you click on one, you can learn more about the company, the open positions, and possibly chat live, in-person over Zoom with a representative.
They advise that you treat this like a regular in-person interview and make sure you're free of background distractions and are dressed to impress.
Ida Ford with Ohio Means Jobs in Cleveland knows how difficult it is to start over.
"I was a former business owner and found myself out of a job," she said. "But I walked through these doors and 11 years later and here I am now talking to the media about the opportunities we have here right now."
"I think it's important you participate in this virtual job fair because, in addition to the hiring employers, we have a partner pavilion where they'll have other resources for them to learn about new training opportunities that we can help fund for those individuals."
Brickner says fewer companies are hiring post-pandemic, but there are still opportunities.
"The demand right now will outpace the supply, but we hope it's a short-term situation," he said.
He said Northeast Ohio has fought its way back before and is confident we'll do it again.
"There is a great spirit in this community," he said. "Employers want to help job seekers, and job seekers... there's a good work-ethic, they want to work. So, I think that will serve us well going forward."
The virtual job fair opens Monday and runs all next week. You must register here.
Cuyahoga County committed $150,000 to create the virtual job fair, and the Mandel Supporting Foundation at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland kicked in another $150,000 to make it happen.
And with the help of that support, and a partnership with the nonprofit, PCs for People, Ohio Means Jobs Cleveland-Cuyahoga County is able to give away 800 computers and internet hot-spots to qualifying individuals. You can call 216-319-5993