Normally, it’s an event that would have happened at Lincoln Financial Field.
But in a time of pandemic, RecruitMilitary’s career fair for veterans in the Philadelphia area has been moved online, like so much else.
A couple of months ago, the national unemployment rate for veterans was at a historic low, just under 3 percent, said Chris Stevens, RecruitMilitary’s senior vice president. In March, it rose to 3.8 percent, and Stevens expects that number to grow as the full economic effects of the COVID-19 virus become clear.
More than 6.6 million people in the United States filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending April 4, including an estimated 284,000 in Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Stevens has seen an uptick in attendance at his company’s job fairs, which moved online more than a month ago. More than 260 people have signed up for Philadelphia’s fair, scheduled for Thursday, and about 300 have registered for a similar event on the same day in Denver, he added.
Some veterans are looking for a job after being recently discharged from active-duty service. Between March 22 and 28, more than 1,700 veterans transitioning back into civilian life filed for unemployment, a jump of about 1,300 compared to the same week last year.
Stevens, an U.S. Air Force veteran, said it’s hard to make that change even when there’s not a global pandemic.
“Just a few months ago, when the unemployment rate was so low, it’s still sometimes difficult,” he told Metro. “It’s a little difficult once you’re transitioning out, being able to transfer your skills that you learned in the military into the civilian market.”
Thursday’s fair, which is being held in partnership with Disabled American Veterans, will feature at least 21 employers and educational institutions, and Stevens hopes to get several more to sign up between now and then.
Allstate Insurance, Liberty Coca-Cola and the Temple University College of Education are among those scheduled to present.
Typically, the in-person fair, which is held in the city three times a year, draws 50 to 60 employers, but it’s been more difficult to attract businesses when many of them are shut down and laying off workers.
The job fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free for veterans, military spouses and people transitioning out of active duty.
Stevens compared the virtual fair to a chat room, and companies will be able to view resumes and schedule follow-up interviews.
“This isn’t new to us,” Stevens said. “We’ve had this platform of virtual career fairs for about four-and-a-half, almost five years now.”
“It’s very, very simple to use,” he added.
For more information or to register, visit www.recruitmilitary.com.
DAV has also set up a fund for disabled veterans who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Recipients will receive up to $250 on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, go to dav.org/covidrelief.