By Rena Malai, News staff
About 1,400 social work job seekers across the U.S. signed up for NASW’s first virtual career fair in May. Virtual interviews were conducted for social work positions in a variety of areas, including behavioral health, medical, case management, and therapy.
About 24 employers — such as Kaiser Permanente, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, United Health Group and United Methodist Family Services — participated in the career fair. The VA in particular reserved ample space at the fair, seeking to fill several social work positions at two of its medical centers, according to Yvette Mulkey, manager of NASW’s Specialty Practice Sections.
She said some social workers logged off from the event with on-the-spot job offers, and the response from employers and potential employees was extremely positive.
“Regardless of what your profession is, employment is critical,” Mulkey said. “Through this particular resource, we’re letting the social work community at large know that they can look to us for assistance in this particular area and connect with employers who need social workers like them.”
The career fair was open to all social workers, and NASW members — both new and experienced — attended, said Raffaele Vitelli, director of NASW’s Professional and Workforce Development. He added that employers and employees in rural locations found the virtual fair particularly useful.
“We had about 500 candidates with 11-plus years of professional social work experience; 300 candidates with less than a year’s experience; and then everyone in between,” Vitelli said. “This was an opportunity to expand career possibilities, or to look for a career change. It’s the goal of the career center to help social work professionals connect with employers and find opportunities.”
Vitelli says the career center will continue holding a virtual career fair about twice a year. Future fairs will potentially include Skype so that virtual communication can be conducted with more ease; and will focus on making sure job seekers have an equal amount of time to connect with employers.
“We have employers lining up for the next event, and we’re looking to expand the capabilities of the platform to make it more fulfilling,” he said. “The event was more successful than we anticipated and it is another way to add value to NASW membership.”
The virtual career fair was free and open to all social workers. NASW members had access to a special webinar after the career fair, hosted by NASW member Carol Nesslein Doelling. She talked about helpful resources from her book “Social Work Career Development: A Handbook for Job Hunting and Career Planning.”
The career center anticipates having special webinars after each virtual career fair — exclusive to NASW members — which will focus on a topic and resources that members may find helpful.
For more information about the NASW Social Work Career Center, visit careers.socialworkers.org.
From the July 2015 NASW News