On Wednesday, April 9, Bloomsburg University hosted a special guest. Julia Hearthway, Pennsylvania State Secretary of Labor and Industry, visited the university to speak about the new career seeking website www.JobGateway.pa.gov. Roughly a dozen Bloomsburg seniors met with Ms. Hearthway. Prompted by their professors, the students had all utilized the website prior to the meeting.
Secretary Hearthway began the meeting by explaining the role and duties of the Secretary of Labor and Industry Department. For example, the department is responsible for unemployment benefits. In addition, the department is familiar with how each business in Pennsylvania operates, and has detailed, behind-the-scene information modalities of each company. The new website, www.JobGateway.pa.gov, was created due to concerns raised by Governor Tom Corbett and Secretary Hearthway about the effectiveness and usability of the old site. Secretary Hearthway reported that she “wanted this to be something that was fun to go to,” thus the new website was initiated.
The new website offers many innovative options for the citizens of Pennsylvania to use. The site currently has 851 occupations available to search for. Even more importantly, it has the option for the employer and employee to contact each other. This feature was a goal set by the Secretary. She wanted to “use technology in a positive way to connect.” The Secretary then went on to explain that the website had many very useful and convenient features on it, including a section where a job seeker could research if their career focus in the current market was going up or down, as well as the average salary.
Unfortunately, after twenty minutes into the presentation, the Secretary had to leave to attend another meeting. However her assistant continued, prompting a discussion from the students about their experience with the website. All of the students who attended the meeting reported enjoying the website. Suggestions included fixing an error that a few of the students experienced when using their ‘.edu’ email. A second suggestion was that instead of looking for jobs through a categorization of careers, instead search under a categorization of majors. That particular student was a communications major, which gives her a very broad amount of jobs that she could pick from. The assistant addressed each concern, and thanked the students for their input on how to make the website even more beneficial.
After the questions and comments were finished, the assistant went on to talk about even more features that the website has, which includes an interest assessment. The assessment is very new to the website, having just been programmed in on that Monday, April 7. The interest assessment is a convenient tool that allows job seekers to get a list of jobs that could be of interest to them, rather than under their particular field. It is a five minute, twenty-question assessment about who you are. Some examples of the questions would be: Do you like research? Do you like to crunch numbers? Do you like to work outdoors? Other similar, basic questions would be asked to incorporate other jobs that may be of interest to the website visitor.
Another feature on the website is a section called the ‘Big Interview.’ This program is self-explanatory about what it is about: to help a person become a better interviewer. What was interesting is that the assistant explained that a survey of 300 major companies was done, and almost all of them said that most people are not prepared for an interview, which is a big stepping stone in landing a job. That is why the ‘Big Interview’ was created, to help Pennsylvania workers on their interviewing skills. The program has three levels: entry, middle, and executive. Once the job seeker clicks on which level they are at, a person-who was previously taped-comes up onto the screen, and he or she starts the interview. The job seeker is videotaped, so then after they are done, they can watch and see how they are presenting themselves.
The Secretary Hearthway’s assistant also spoke about how often all of the data on the website is updated. She explained that the number of openings is updated every 24 hours. Plus, the jobs listed are refreshed every 60 days. That is very useful, because a job seeker knows that the job has not been available for an excessive amount of time.
Accessibility to the website was very important to the Department. This, of course, included how the website can be accessed by a person’s iPhone, Droid, or essentially any other device. In addition, veterans have special indicators to identify themselves as a veteran. When this occurs, an American flag remains beside the veteran’s name so that employers instantly know of their veteran status.