COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Unemployment skyrocketed during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and now many businesses have started hiring again. Some employers have resorted to using creative tactics to reach prospective workers.
“We don’t have that face-to-face. We can’t go put flyers out in the community where people would see it as much as they would have before,” said Paige Klein, the regional director for Employers Overload, a staffing agency.
Wednesday, the agency hosted a “drive-up job fair” on the northeast side of Columbus. Job seekers could drive-up in their vehicles or walk-up to a mobile unit where Klein tried to connect skills and experience with open positions. She oversees operations in Central and Southern Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. She said by comparison, the Columbus job market appears to be rebounding.
“Columbus right now seems to be picking up a little bit quicker in the manufacturing roles. And it’s not just essential workers,” Klein said.
Weekly unemployment numbers from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services show a steady decline in unemployment applications over the past ten weeks. However, finding the right workers to fill positions has become a challenge for companies.
Many parents, Klein explained, are struggling to come back to the workforce without adequate child care. Others feel unsafe returning to jobs because of health concerns. Some are making more money with unemployment benefits than they would in a low wage position.
“We have seen a really tough market to find qualified employees who want to come back to work,” she said.
Tashawanna Walters drove through the pop up job fair Wednesday and was looking for a position with better pay and flexibility than her current work. During the health crisis, she was forced to cut hours to care for a son with disabilities.
“It’s hard for me because I’ve got to be able to try to work, take care of him and provide for him,” Walters said.
She worried about competition from a rush of other job seekers jockeying for limited positions. Klein said there are plenty of openings to go around, but workers may need to expand the scope of their job searches.
“There are more jobs right now than people who have necessarily wanting to work,” she said. “I think it’s also – are you willing to do a job that maybe you haven’t tried before?”
She recommended anyone looking for a job to search online databases and directly call businesses to inquire about openings. Many employers are conducting phone or video interviews and some are offering special incentives to new employees.