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When it comes to way CareerSource Northeast Florida (CareerSource NEFL) handles re-employment services these days, Employment Security Representative Barry Harvard says that while providing those services virtually was “something new that we had to adapt to, I think that it served our purposes very well for both job seekers and CareerSource NEFL staff.”

Harvard was interviewed recently on best practices during a presentation for WorkforceGPS, an online technical assistance website sponsored by the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor. WorkforceGPS was developed specifically for workforce professionals, educators and business leaders as a platform to share training resources, promising workforce development practices and other information to improve employment prospects for job seekers.

“Just like interviews had begun to go virtual with zoom interviews, I think that our virtual interviews for reemployment assistance will be kept in place,” Harvard said. “We still continue to have those appointments every week and people respond through email, and we have a phone conversation with them. We also have another program called WIOA (the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), which is a program where people can return to school, and that’s still done virtually, while they used to be done in office face to face.”

Harvard says services provided to veterans are going to remain virtual for the foreseeable future, as well.

“When we talk to our customers on the phone, we prepare them for the strong possibility that their interview is going to be a Zoom interview, and it makes total sense,” he said. “If a company is located in Los Angeles but you’re going to be working for them here in Florida, either you’ve got to fly out there or they’ve got to fly here to interview you, or you could set aside time to speak to them online. Everybody gets what they need. You get a chance to speak with someone, and though you’re not in the same room with them, this is as close as we can come to having face to face interviews.”

Harvard notes that the online process is efficient for both the job seeker and employers in terms of saving time and expenses.

“As for our organization, interviews that we do are probably going to remain a great deal virtual because of the same reasons,” he said. “We still have to address the same issues as if they were side-by-side with us in our offices: we still have to address résumés, which I do through a résumé writing class that we’re doing every Thursday on Zoom now, we provide guidance on customizing the résumés every time they send them out to different employers, and giving them assistance in getting their information up-to-date in the Employ Florida website, which is extremely important for both job seekers and businesses, as well.”

For the most part, Harvard says CareerSource NEFL has been able to provide the same scope of services virtually that it did before the COVID-19 Pandemic struck in early 2020.

Harvard adds that, even virtually, CareerSource NEFL staff can still offer advice and hope along with the basic services job seekers need – which is still an important part of the organization’s mission.

“I think you learn very quickly that when people reach out to us, whether it’s in the office or whether it’s by phone, that while they need some concrete, nuts and bolts things to do to help themselves out of the situation they’re in, you also learn very quickly that a kind word and something that they can hold on to makes a world of difference,” Harvard said. “And a lot of times, those things can make the difference between someone fighting another day or giving up. I think that we’ve all learned a lot of lessons as far as that’s concerned…the importance of keeping people motivated to help themselves in the re-employment process.”

To listen to Harvard’s entire interview for WorkforceGPS, visit https://vimeo.com/571799486/298335286f