PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — For more than 100 employers across the Peoria region on Wednesday, it was a day to meet and hire new employees.
But, this was not an average job fair at a convention center with booths. Instead, purple balloons welcomed job seekers at each participating company’s physical location.
“We wanted to create an event, an experience, that would make it easier to connect with job seekers and for them to find that talent and for job seekers to find the company,” said Kari Rauh, director of workforce solutions for Greater Peoria Economic Development Council.
UnityPoint Health went a step further and hosted a drive-thru event at multiple locations.
“We are handing out information regarding our openings, we’re also accepting resumes from candidates, and if they provide us with their information, then we’re guaranteeing an interview within the next week,” said Courtney Newgard, manager of regional talent acquisition at UnityPoint Health.
Newgard said UnityPoint is looking to fill some 480 positions in many departments. She said they had 25 applicants in just two hours.
“I always feel like people always think that hospitals are just doctors and nurses, but we actually have a lot of different positions there,” she said.
Joseph Williamson is looking for a job. He said having a hiring event at each company’s physical location, rather than a convention center booth, is a great idea.
“I like that it seems more personable, more in-person, not all the bells and whistles and tape and veneer,” he said. “CEFCU did a great job with their customer service, just handling me as an applicant made me feel welcome.”
Newgard said recruitment has been difficult in the age of COVID.
“Since the pandemic, it’s really made us have to change the way that we did our interview process. We haven’t done a job fair in person since the pandemic hit, so today’s job fair is our first one in almost 18 months, and we’re really excited to be able to be back and interacting with the public in person again,” she said.
Rauh said the job fair format proved to be a success.
“It’s just exciting to hear that this is really turning out to be successful. People are actually interacting with applicants, that’s been the goal, I’m thrilled.”
Online applications through the Council’s Hiring Extravaganza portal were and continue to be another option.