“Our agencies have not stopped hiring.”
While it seemed the rest of the world slowed down or stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic, ORAU's Amanda Hurley said her team has been busy meeting the staffing needs of their government agency customers.
Hurley credits their continued success to a number of cutting edge practices ORAU has employed for several years, including video interviewing, virtual career fairs and poster sessions, video onboarding and online applicant tracking.
“Who knew the tools we use every day would really prepare us for working during a pandemic,” she said, adding that they are also helping agencies like the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency plan for the fall, without the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’ve been doing video interviewing for about five years,” Hurley said. “We started using video interviews more from a speed-to-hire standpoint than anything else.” For many agencies, and ORAU, video interviews often serve as a screening tool for candidates interested in a role within the organization.
During a video interview, candidates are sent a set of questions they are expected to record via video using their phone, tablet or computer. Those video files are then submitted to the recruiter to decide whether or not further interviews are warranted.
“The great thing about a video interview is it allows the candidate to complete the interview on his or her own time, and it allows the person reviewing the interview to do it on our time,” Hurley sad. “We’ve had some candidates submit their interviews at one or two in the morning, and then it’s waiting for us the next day.”
She added that the candidate can re-record their answer until they feel they’ve put their best foot forward.
Virtual Career Fairs and Virtual Poster Sessions
“We’ve been doing virtual events for about three years now, and we’re really proud of the success we’ve had,” Hurley said.
Virtual career fairs are held online, on a platform that offers many of the same amenities as an in-person career fair, especially opportunities to meet one-on-one with recruiters and potential employers. Applicants can upload their resumes and meet other people in their chosen career fields.
“From a candidate’s perspective, they can log in no matter where they are. They don’t have to wait for an employer or potential internship to come visit their campus. They can seek out this virtual opportunity and interact with agencies like DOD, DOE, CDC, and EPA. And they can do it from the comfort of their pajamas with their phone, tablet or computer,” she said.
Agencies and employers benefit too because, especially at a time when COVID-19 has limited face-to-face interactions, virtual events are a safe place where they can continue to recruit, share information about their employer brand, and continue to build up their pipeline of prospective employees.
Hurley adds that because so many agencies and organizations have moved to telework, it can be difficult for new employees and interns to gain the experience and interact with people they would normally see if they were at the facility.
“Virtual poster sessions and other virtual events allow them to have that kind of interaction and really showcase what they have learned over the past few weeks or months,” she said, adding that ORAU can offer virtual events as a solution for agencies that need a back-up plan for in-person conferences or events that may get changed this fall.
When new ORAU employees onboard to work at EPA, they spend their first half day on the phone with human resources, watching videos via webinar or watching e-learning modules on a computer. This is something the Workforce Solutions team has done successfully for years. So much so, that EPA wishes all of their contractors would onboard as well as ORAU does.
“When everything has always been done at a distance, this is not something new that we had to pivot and figure out,” Hurley said. “This is something that has been established and that we continue to do successfully.”