Ottawa County

How West Michigan Works! is using online tools to connect job seekers with employers

As businesses are reopening, West Michigan Works! is connecting employers and job seekers across Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties. We checked in with Kiosha Jeltema, MSW, a West Michigan Works! Business Solutions Manager, to share more details about the different ways the organization can help assist those looking for work. She oversees the business solutions department's operations and ensures that programs and services align with the needs of employers. 

The Lakeshore: As Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order is lifted and businesses are reopening, what industries are in high demand?
 
Kiosha Jeltema: As the executive order is lifted, we continue to see a high demand in manufacturing, health care (for essential positions), retail (specifically grocery stores), and agribusiness, which includes jobs in agriculture and food processing. 
 
 TL: What's the best way for people to find out about openings and connect with employers?

KJ: Each week, West Michigan Works! publishes a Weekly Hot Jobs list that individuals can browse through to see hundreds of full-time, part-time, permanent, and temporary jobs that are in high demand with employers in our area. Job seekers can view the Hot Jobs directly on our website or sign up to receive the job openings right in their inbox each week. 

We also host job fairs. We have hosted three job fairs since the coronavirus pandemic began. Each of the virtual events has featured more than 30 employers and hundreds of job openings. Job seekers need to register ahead of time. Available positions tend to range from entry-level to highly skilled and are in the fields of manufacturing, health care, IT, and retail industries. Some of West Michigan’s largest employers are taking part in these. 

TL: How can job seekers best prepare for virtual job fairs?

KJ: Our virtual job fair concept is a proven model to efficiently and safely connect job seekers with companies that have immediate needs to increase their workforces to meet demand. Job seekers are encouraged to have their resumes prepared and to research the companies before meeting with hiring managers. West Michigan Works! offers free virtual resume resources on our website and has talent development specialists available to help candidates prepare for interviews. Companies representing Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties are participating in the virtual job fair. Interested job seekers can view the list of participating employers and register for phone interviews on the West Michigan Works! website.
 
TL: What's the best way to prepare for a West Michigan Works!’ job fair, whether in-person or online?

KJ: As with any discussion or interview with a prospective employer, it is important to research the company.  What is their mission? What kind of culture do they have?  Where are they located?  What kind of products or services do they provide?  This information can easily be found on their web and social media sites. Job seekers should also create a “cheat sheet”’ with notes about their qualifications and experience. Also, including questions to ask the employer demonstrates interest. West Michigan Works! has compiled a list of resources to help job seekers prepare (including How to Ace a Phone Interview, Common Interview Questions) on the Virtual Job Fair page.
 
TL: Does West Michigan Works! plan to reopen offices soon? If so, will it continue some of its online and virtual outreach?

KJ: West Michigan Works! anticipates reopening offices in the next couple of weeks. It is important to note that while our physical offices have been closed, we have continued to provide services to our communities through virtual platforms. Our offices will open in phases, starting “by appointment only” to help mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. We will continue to provide virtual service.
 
If you have more questions, you can contact Kiosha Jeltema at [email protected].
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