Christie Administration Hosts New Jersey’s First Virtual Career Fair

Expanding the ability of New Jersey employers to connect with job-seekers, the Christie Administration launched its first “virtual career fair” today to help Garden State workers find real jobs as businesses recruit workers for the upcoming holiday season.

The hiring event, conducted on a website hosted by the state’s Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Talent Network, offered job-seekers and employers a genuine opportunity to log-on and engage in real-time text, chat and video interviews without having to travel, book a meeting space or arrange parking. Job-seekers who logged-on to the career fair website were able to create “avatars,” which are electronic images that represented each job-seeker, and maneuver those alter-egos to interact with employers at the virtual job fair.

“This was an exciting new way for job-seekers to connect with employers in real-time to connect with solid employment opportunities without having to travel,” said Commissioner Harold J. Wirths of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “An online hiring event eliminates barriers for job-seekers and employers, including travel time, staffing limitations and standing in lines for interviews. This is yet another avenue we wanted to explore to assist job-seekers with employment opportunities in New Jersey.”

The job-seekers used their avatars to explore the “career fair” website, which included a networking lounge where employers and job-seekers could chat in groups or chat one-on-one. Job-seekers also were able to upload their resume for a specific job being offered, participate in a webcast or review in-depth career and company information on a specific employer.

About 40 employers participated in the virtual career fair organized by New Jersey’s Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Talent Network, which is financed by the Labor Department and operated by Fairleigh Dickinson University and Richard Stockton College.

“Traditional job fairs are still relevant, but an online hiring fair exposes job-seekers to more employers with just a few mouse clicks and employers can share feedback immediately. We are grateful that our Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Talent Network has pioneered this avenue for the State of New Jersey, and we expect to host more of these virtual career fairs,” said Commissioner Wirths.

The unique career fair venue enabled employers to customize their visitor booths and make them more attractive to job-seekers by using video presentations about the company and the jobs available. The employers also were able to offer interactive presentations via live video feeds.

The focus of the event was holiday season employment opportunities, as employers in the retail, hospitality and tourism industries begin to increase staff to accommodate anticipated increases in trade in the coming weeks. The online hiring event offered job-seekers an opportunity to meet with dozens of potential employers in one location from the convenience of their home, office or public library.

Employers included in the online hiring event were: Houlihan’s, Lowes, ShakeShack, Verizon Wireless, Wawa Inc. Merri Makers Caterers, Wegman’s, FedEx Smartpost and Sears.

The Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Talent Network is one of seven Talent Networks created to support the seven key industry clusters that employ more than two-thirds of the workers in New Jersey and pay more than two-thirds of the annual wages. Talent Networks engage industry employers to pinpoint the relevant skills that job-seekers need to get jobs in those major industry clusters, and the Talent Networks link employers with the state’s educational institutions, employee training providers, state officials and job-seekers.

In turn, properly trained employees can help New Jersey businesses become more competitive and productive, which benefits the state’s overall economy.

Six other Talent Networks have been created around the following industry clusters: Life Sciences; Transportation, Logistics and Distribution; Health Care; Advanced Manufacturing; Technology and Entrepreneurship, and Financial Services.

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