FREDERICTON– Like a lot of tech companies in New Brunswick, Introhive has been facing the challenges of finding New Brunswick-based talent to join their team.
“The reality is we have some really great talent here in New Brunswick from an IT perspective,” says Kristen Vautour, a talent acquisition specialist at Introhive. “But on the flip side, we also have some really great organizations here in New Brunswick in that industry and we’ve only got so many people to go around … that leaves us with a very small pool to draw from.
“Despite us being active in hiring New Brunswick residents, there are just not enough people.”
Vautour has started pursuing other avenues to recruit people from outside the province. Recently, she took part in a virtual job fair, hosted by the Province of New Brunswick.
“I was honestly pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to use and the quality of candidates that came from it,” says Vautour.
The province has been piloting virtual job fairs over the last several months, with the last one taking place in early April for ICT companies. They were inspired by a concept the province did years back for online career development fairs for high school students.
“We hadn’t explored that idea for a while until just recently with the situation that we’re in right now with a lot of opportunities and employers looking to hire people, and we have a shrinking workforce,” says Steve Carle, program consultant for the Department of Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour for the province.
The province often hosts traditional, in-person job fairs around the province, but with the increasing challenges of worker shortages, Carle said they wanted to apply that online format to the job fairs, so people who could not physically be there, could still apply and speak with recruiters.
“We thought maybe we could bring that old idea to the forefront again and apply it to a job-fair situation as opposed to a more career-development information fair, with the hope of extending our reach beyond the borders of Saint John and the southwest region … and try to find other ways in which we can recruit people and connect and show candidates to employers,” says Carle.
The virtual job fairs are set up similar to traditional ones. The province can organize them for specific industries, or have them for any interested employer looking to hire. Employers register online like they would with a typical job fair. They would send all their job postings and any promotional materials they would like to have at their virtual “booth.” On the day of the fair, they are able to see the users visiting their booth, their resumes, and are able to live-chat with them directly.
“Despite working for a software company, I’m not a technical person. I didn’t have any trouble navigating it. It’s laid out exactly like a normal career fair,” says Vautour of her experience. “You got to your landing page and there are different booths and each booth is repped by a company.”
As for the job seekers, they register on the day of the fair. Once logged in, they can then browse the different employers, apply for job openings and live-chat with recruiters.
At the last event, Vautour says she talked with quality candidates from across Canada and as far away as Brazil and Pakistan. In fact, she will be meeting the applicant from Pakistan when he arrives in Canada at the end of the month.
“He’s coming in for a face-to-face interview when he lands here. He has already his permanent residency but wasn’t here quite yet, but his resume was great,” says Vautour. “We had a good conversation, so it was worth it to bring him in face-to-face once he arrived.”
If they are continually successful, Carle says the virtual job fairs could help “level the playing field” for New Brunswickers who perhaps can’t get to physical job fairs or recruiting events. All they need is an internet connection.
Because of the nature of what it is, we hope that it helps with rural parts of the province too,” he says. “It may not be easy for cost-effective for some people in rural areas to have the same access to a job fair that someone in a more urban area would have.”
The province also sees the fairs playing a role in its population growth and immigration efforts.
“It levels the playing field most importantly for New Brunswick residents, but we’re hoping that it can support some of the other strategies that we have in place, like the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program and other things that are helping with international recruitment,” says Carle. “Making people aware of what our province is all about and the great opportunities that are here.”
Vautour says Introhive will definitely be participating in the virtual job fairs again and encourages other employers in the province to give them a try.
“The way I see is, what do you have to lose?” she says. “It’s a few hours of your time and I think New Brunswick needs to bring more people into our province and have them stay and contribute to the economy so this is just a really great way to expose what New Brunswick has to offer.”
Carle said the next virtual job fair is expected to take place sometime this month.