Technical challenges hit many of those trying to attend virtual job fairs in their search for work over the past week.
Attending a virtual job fair is one of the ways people filing for unemployment insurance in New Hampshire can meet the work search requirement, which kicked back into place this week.
Cindy Brenner of Goffstown, who attended a fair Thursday, said while she was able to get into the event, it seemed overloaded. She recalls logging in before the event started, and seeing that over 700 were already in attendance.
As she tried to navigate the fair, she said, “It would just shut off completely, so you’d have to go back into the email, and so you’d have to rejoin via the link, and hope that it would put you back at the same place you were.”
Many attendees experienced something similar. Others couldn't get in at all, or found themselves stuck in a virtual lobby.
Brenner thought the virtual job fairs were a good idea, but said ultimately, she didn’t feel like she was able to make meaningful connections with potential employers.
“I don’t know how productive it was,” she said. “Other than checking off a box. And that’s really not the purpose, for people who are really trying to find a job.”
Jennifer St. Gelais of Lochmere felt similarly. She attended a virtual job fair last week, and was a part of a group conversation with an employer hiring for positions at a call center.
She said she was in a group with six other people. “We were all muted, and they would let one person unmute to speak.”
She says when people in the group tried to ask questions around pay and flexibility with hours, the questions went unanswered.
Richard Lavers, deputy commissioner of New Hampshire Employment Security which runs the state’s unemployment system, said they are working on addressing the technical issues.
Wednesday and Thursday’s events will be rescheduled and everyone will automatically be re-registered.
Many who couldn’t access the events at all were unsure if trying to attend the event would still meet the weekly work search requirement.
Lavers clarified that “if someone was unable to attend this event, or the event was full when they tried to attend, then they would not be able to take credit for this event.”
Lavers says meeting the minimum requirement should not be the focus for people, and that people “should be doing everything they can to secure that next job as quickly as possible.”