Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, job recruiters are edging back into their pursuit of UNR students.
The university will sponsor one of its biggest career fairs of the year on Nov.18 — it’s completely virtual, of course — in an economic environment that remains highly unsettled.
Katia Albright, assistant director of the Nevada Career Studio on campus, says the number of employers who have signed up for the fair is running behind last year, although registrations remain open.
Recruitment activity by graduate schools and professional schools during the fair, meanwhile, apparently will be unchanged from last year.
(For detailed information about the fair, see https://www.unr.edu/career/employers/career-fairs.)
The general trend in recent months, Albright says, has seen more interest from employers who want to hire from UNR.
Last summer, the number of jobs and internships posted on Handshake — the school’s online job board for students and alumni — was running about 20% below year-earlier figures. By September, the decrease in employer posts was only 4% below last year’s level.
“I am cautiously optimistic about the steady increase in employment opportunities,” Albright says. “Employers are going to need a skilled, well-trained workforce to help them successfully navigate their businesses.”
Job fairs have proven challenging to colleges across the country, she says, as employers face increased hassles as they learn how to meet with potential job candidates in a virtual environment.
UNR’s first virtual career fair in September saw a 50% decline in employers compared with an in-person event last year. Given the pandemic, Albright says the Nevada Career Studio wasn’t surprised by the weak turnout.
But employers who have made the effort to become comfortable with new job-fair technologies, Albright says, are rewarded with interactions with students that are better organized and more personalized than random conversations at a booth during a traditional job fair.
For the Nov. 18 event, employers and graduate schools will post schedules of times that are available for online group meetings and one-on-one visits. Sign-ups allow students to better plan their time and give employers a chance to gauge interest.
Albright says UNR thinks the new format will be efficient, too, because it engages businesses, non-profits and government agencies as well as graduate schools and professional schools in a single event.
Another major efficiency for recruiters: The Nevada Career Studio at UNR and the equivalent office at UNLV are joining forces this semester, inviting each other’s student bodies to their respective career fairs and expanding the pool of potential applicants for employers.
“This is an innovation that benefits our students and employers,” Albright says.
John Seelmeyer is a business writer and editor in Reno. In his 40-year career, he has edited publications in Nevada, Colorado and California and written several thousand published articles about business and finance.