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The Hire! Philly Coalition will hold a virtual career fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday due to the ban on large social gatherings during the pandemic. — WHYY Photo/Bastiaan Slabbers

While the coronavirus crisis has caused many organizations and institutions to reduce their staff, some Philadelphia employers are seeking to grow their workforce.

To help meet the needs of employers and job seekers in a time when everyone in the region has been ordered to stay at home unless they work at an essential business or are visiting one, the Hire! Philly Coalition will host a virtual career fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday.

An annual in-person event was originally scheduled for March 16 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. That event was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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“We had to figure out a way to make sure that we were still effectively connecting the opportunities that are available through area employers to the talent pool that we have here in the region,” said Kathryn Epps Roberson, executive director of the Hire! Philly Coalition.

“Connecting people to jobs was too important to not figure out a way to move forward. We’re really happy that we were able to pivot and offer this experience virtually. The demand is there.”

The agency is using the online platform Brazen to connect job seekers to employers. The platform enables people to upload their resumes, which will be reviewed by recruiters.

“It really humanizes the virtual career fair experience. It has all the same components you would experience if you were at an in-person fair,” Roberson said.

“Employers and community resources have [virtual] booths that you can get in line for and you can chat with recruiters in real time, via the online platform.”

“Opportunity seekers can float around from booth to booth and have conversations virtually, just as they would if they were physically standing across the table from a recruiter or someone representing one of our nonprofits in the city,” she added.

The virtual fair will feature about 25 employers such as Aramark, CVS, Independence Blue Cross, Philadelphia OIC, Philadelphia Youth Network, Rite Aid, ShopRite and Turning Points for Children.

“We’re really proud of the fact that we able to maintain a good portion of the employers who were registered for the in-person fair as well as add additional companies who were not participating due the overwhelming demand in their industries,” Roberson said.

“There’s been a little bit of shift of where people are needed. The shift directly correlates to who can do business now and who can’t.”

“There are some positions that will available from the employers with a delayed start date,” she added.

“They are just trying to do the groundwork now to make sure they can extend those offers, so that when the appropriate time comes people can hit the ground running.”

All individuals who registered for Hire! Philly’s in-person fair will be automatically registered for the virtual fair and will receive instructions to create a free Brazen account online. Job seekers can register by visiting http://bit.ly/HirePhillyVCF

Hire! Philly is the city’s only employer-led workforce agency.

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