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2 online job fairs Wednesday aim to help Wisconsinites unemployed during COVID-19
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2 online job fairs Wednesday aim to help Wisconsinites unemployed during COVID-19

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Job fair

Many job centers remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but state workforce development boards are hosting online job fairs for job seekers.

A Madison staffing firm and local job centers are hosting job fairs Wednesday highlighting open jobs within dozens of local companies to help area residents who had been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The locally owned and operated branch of national staffing and recruiting agency Spherion is taking part in the company’s nationwide series of online job fairs on Wednesday.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., job seekers can meet online with a local Spherion specialist to talk about the jobs at about two dozen local companies that have contracted with Spherion to fill positions. Jobs range from entry level to highly skilled positions, from lab or help desk workers to lawyers.

Margaret Leitinger, vice president of the Madison company, said career agents will be available throughout the fair to help pair job seekers to positions, whether they are looking for jobs in the same industry they were in before or they are looking to change careers.

Those career agents can also identify experience a job seeker might have from one industry that can transfer to another, Leitinger said. For example, someone who worked several years as a restaurant server but was laid off during the pandemic would have some skills that could be applicable to working in a customer service call center.

“Maybe they don’t know what they’re looking for, maybe they don’t see a particular job, maybe they don’t see the potential of their skills,” Leitinger said. But the job fair “gives them an opportunity to talk to one of the Spherion local career agents and recruiters that can answer some of those questions.”

Appointments can be made by registering early at spherion.com/job-seekers/. Representatives will also be available for drop-in appointments, Leitinger said.

Also virtual

The Wisconsin Workforce Development Association is partnering with regional development boards and job centers to put on a different job fair Wednesday.

Through the job centers and development boards, including the Dane County Job Center and the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin in Madison, job seekers can view dozens of fliers for various job openings in what the association is calling a “click-through” job fair.

“We know it can be difficult to connect job seekers to employers, especially when in-person job fairs and recruitment events are on pause,” said Seth Lentz, CEO of the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin. “This Click Thru Job Fair is a great way for talented workers and career opportunities to intersect virtually.”

About 90 employers, ranging from manufacturers to construction companies to professional offices, submitted flyers for job seekers to peruse online at wdbscw.org/click-thru-job-fair/.

The click-through job fair follows previous drive-through job fairs hosted by the development boards and job centers across the state. To promote social distancing, the job centers canceled in-person events during the pandemic while finding other ways to match the droves of newly unemployed workers with open jobs.


Fave 5: Business reporter Shelley K. Mesch reflects on 2020 coverage

I expected this year to write about mostly about local startups, high-tech companies and venture capital investments. While I got to do some of that, much of my work load has been taken over by the effects of COVID-19 on the economy.

It's been a year of a lot of unknowns and a lot of fears in the business world. Owners and managers worried about keeping revenue up and maintaining a safe environment for employees. Many of them wondered how long they could stay open, and quite a few of them decided to make the hard choice and close their doors.

But there have been some bright spots. Early on, manufacturers around Wisconsin and even nationwide stepped up to meet the needs of medical professionals battling the virus face-to-face. Distillers made hand sanitizer, manufacturers started producing personal protective equipment and design engineers made plans for face shields available for free. Many of Dane County's health-related companies also joined the fight, including Promega and Catalent ramping up production on components for tests and treatments, Exact Sciences using its labs to run COVID-19 tests and Epic Systems developing software to track cases.

I did also take some time to write about my favorite, money-grubbing tanuki from Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the runaway hit video game.

Working from my makeshift home office can be difficult, but I'm glad I get to do this work reporting on Wisconsin and its businesses. There are plenty of political arguments about what COVID-19 is doing to business, but I am here to take out those politics and share with readers what the companies and their employees are actually experiencing. I hope that in a few months I will be telling you how businesses and the local economy are recovering from the pandemic.

If you want to read my other stories, you can find them here.

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