By Katelyn Sides Baker, Workforce Recruitment Director, Economic Development, Workforce & Education
Virtual. It’s a word we have now heard a million times, and that word describes how the rest of 2020 is going to look, especially when it comes to recruiting. The Chamber will focus its recruiting efforts online for the rest of the year.
When COVID-19 first started to spread in our country and impact our national economy, we knew there would be many college graduates who would have a hard time finding jobs. We also knew with Huntsville’s strong economy, many of our local employers would still be hiring. We quickly adapted our ASmartPlace on the Road recruiting trips to a virtual platform.
So far this summer, we’ve hosted four virtual recruiting events. We partnered with Auburn University, the University of Alabama, and Tennessee Tech University, and we also partnered with our regional colleges and universities for an event to help local students and graduates. This virtual event consisted of students from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), Calhoun Community College, Oakwood University, Drake State Community & Technical College, Athens State University, and Alabama A&M University. In total, we have reached more than 650 students this summer about job opportunities in our area.
We laid out these virtual meet-ups much like the in-person events students would attend. First, students get to learn about what it is like to live, work, and play in the Huntsville/Madison County area. As the workforce recruitment director, I share about our low cost of living, great quality of life, upcoming fun additions to our city, our strong economy, and much more. Then, we incorporate local employers who “pitch” their company to the students. Companies have talked about everything from open positions to company culture and benefits. To view previous virtual recruiting events, head over to ASmartPlace’s YouTube Channel, where we’ve posted all of our recordings. After the virtual event, we email students a sheet that contains information about each company that participated and their contact information.
Even though we are in a pandemic, there are many local employers still hiring, and we want to connect them with talented students and graduates. Looking ahead to this fall, we plan on having virtual recruiting events with Auburn University, Ohio State University, the University of Alabama, the University of Kentucky, and more.
The best way to stay in the know about our virtual ASmartPlace on the Road recruiting events is to sign up for the Monday Mash Up e-newsletters, follow ASmartPlace on social media (@asmartplace), and send me an email (email@example.com) that you are interested in participating.
Another way we are tackling virtual recruitment efforts is our new video series called Go Rocket City! Sponsored by Lockheed Martin, these videos connect summer interns to Huntsville’s favorite spots, variety of cultures, diverse communities, and so much more.
The series consists of eight videos – watch as our ASmartPlace team explores our city and talks with locals. These are great to share with interns and employees who are new to our area. We launched this video series earlier this summer and wrapped it up at the end of July. We will have the series again next summer.
It’s more important than ever to showcase our city and retain and recruit talent. There are many workers who are still relocating to our area even during this pandemic – just check Reddit! Before the pandemic, we were seeing around 55 people per day move to our area. We fully expect that number to continue or even increase after the pandemic.
This fall, in addition to our college and university recruiting trips, our team is also eyeing a virtual event to recruit veterans, and another event for young professionals. Stay tuned for details!
Earlier this summer we launched our new ASmartPlace.com website. The new, fresh look of the site is structured to inform the user about what it’s like to live, work, play, and learn in Huntsville/Madison County. Please check out the new site and share it with anyone looking to move to our area or anyone who is searching for a job.
We are not sure what the rest of this year holds, but we know that there will be multiple virtual recruiting opportunities for your business. Our community continues to experience growth this year, and our ASmartPlace team is here to help with your workforce and recruiting needs.
This article appears in the August 2020 issue of Initiatives magazine, a publication of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.