One sign the local economy is beginning to bounce back from the COVID-19 recession is more companies are on hiring sprees. One is even offering a sign-on bonus.
Brittany Lenertz is the talent solutions director for West Michigan Works!
According to September 2020 labor market data, West Michigan employers have more than 40,000 open positions.
“Michigan saw an abrupt change in employment in March and April due to COVID-19,” says Brittany Lenertz, Talent Solutions Director at West Michigan Works! “Thankfully, many employers have continued to see an increase in business in recent weeks. They are looking to hire back the staff they need, and, in many cases, expand their workforce. While some Michigan workers aren’t ready to go back to work due to a variety of family and personal reasons, there are urgent hiring needs across all industries — employers are looking to fill jobs now.”
In an effort to quickly connect more than 50 area employers with job seekers, the regional workforce development agency is hosting its seventh Virtual Job Fair on Oct. 21.
Job seekers can register for 15-minute phone calls with hiring managers to learn more about their openings and share their skills and expertise. The daylong event goes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of the employers hiring is Macatawa Area Express (MAX Transit), which has openings for 12 full- and part-time bus operators. The positions have a starting wage of $15.25.
“The virtual nature of the event allows us an efficient and safe way to meet with a great pool of candidates on one day,” says Matt Guinn, HR Recruiter at MAX Transit. “We are currently looking to add a dozen transit professionals who will take pride in providing a critical service to fellow residents of our lakeshore community. We are proud to offer competitive wages and a benefits package, and a safe working environment.”
Other employers taking part include Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Walgreens, Lacks Enterprises, Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, and Perrigo.
Lenertz says some employers are providing bonuses to attract talent. Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Saranac, for example, is offering a $1,500 sign-on bonus for new hires, according to Human Resources Manager Andrea DeYoung.
Lacks Enterprises, a Grand Rapids-based manufacturer of automotive finish parts and technologies, is hiring for first, second, and third shifts.
"We participate in the events because it’s a great way to find people who are serious about finding work,” says Jennifer Rose, Employment Specialist at Lacks Enterprises. “We are committed to helping keep everyone safe.”
Participating employers are also explaining the steps they have taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. MAX Transit, for example, requires all drivers and riders to wear masks. The Holland transit system added barriers on their buses to separate drivers and practices continuous sanitizing on all buses, which are fogged daily and swab tested to ensure cleanliness.
Interested job seekers can access more preparation resources, view the list of all participating employers, and register for the job fair at westmiworks.org/virtual-job-fair/