Virtual Hiring: Bridging The Gap Between Employees And Employers

 Steve Edwards is the CEO of PremierVirtual which is a SaaS platform for online virtual job and career fairs. Their online hiring event platform was designed to bridge the gap between technology and human experience. As the virtual event marketplace becomes more crowded, Premier Virtual has risen to the top by providing everything clients need and want to host successful virtual hiring events on one platform. CEO and Founder Steve Edwards is laser-focused on releasing enhancements that make the platform easier, more effective, and more efficient.

Steve is a US Army veteran and utilizes his vast military experience to run and grow his very own successful software company helping employees land their dream job all from his platform.

I had the opportunity to interview Steve recently. Here are some of the highlights of that interview:

Jill Griffin: Steve, I know that you have a military background. Can you tell me more about that?

Steve Edwards: I went to the military right out of high school. I was in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. I graduated on June 4th, turned 18 on June 15th, and on August 4th, I was in basic training. I spent three years in Fort Bragg jumping out of airplanes. I was in from ’94 to ’98 and then joined the Florida National Guard for three years after that. I served, I jumped out of airplanes, but I never went overseas.

Griffin: How did you go from the military, transitioning into a software company owner?

Edwards: When I got out of the army, I didn’t know where to live. I looked at different schools and narrowed it down to Colorado State or FAU. I chose Florida. I’ve always been in sales, and it’s my kind of job. I graduated, got a job as a stockbroker, and then got into the mortgage industry, but it ran its course in 2007.

Then I went into outside sales and my market was New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas. All I did was travel to these markets, and I would build a sales team for our client.

Griffin: How do you build a sales team?

Edwards: Job boards and job fairs. I was going to all these job fairs, and then the company shut down the division I was in. I went to my now business partner and said I got a great idea. I’ve been traveling the country, and there’s a company out of New Jersey, and I love what they do. They do a very efficient type of job fair. So , we bought a license agreement from this guy in New Jersey to run under his business.

I was doing in-person job fairs in North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Arizona. What happened is I started to see a slowdown in 2017. And as people stopped coming to my job fairs, companies wanted to stop paying. Well, in 2017 I was newly married with a new baby, and I had to figure something out. Somebody told me about virtual job fairs and I had never heard of them. Then I saw a demo, and instantly, I was like, this is it. This is the future. I loved it.

Also, during this time, all my friends and recruiters told me that I was crazy because virtual wouldn’t work. But I said, just look at the trends. And you know what, quarantine showed companies that virtual works, right? Three years ago, they would think that it was inefficient. But people learn how to be efficient, right? So, we launched the second version of our software back in September. And we’re constantly enhancing, and we’re always listening to our clients - taking their feedback and making us better.

Griffin: Tell me about some of your clients and some of the successes that you’ve had.

Edwards: There are so many success stories and great clients, but there are 2 to talk about here. And one of them is the Army. The US Army has used our platform for multiple recruiting events. I say it’s my number one success because twenty years ago, I sat in the recruiting station, and they showed me a big laserdisc with military jobs. Twenty years later, they’re using my platform to help get soldiers enlisted. But now it’s not a big laserdisc; it’s videos and a virtual platform. People are now using my platform to get into something I did over 20 years ago.

The second biggest one is the state of Massachusetts. They held an event on our platform with 1696 companies and over 17,000 job seekers. And there were over 1.3 million company booth views that can’t be done in person. The largest job fair ever held. We work with a lot of workforce development boards across the country. So, every state has a workforce development board. The government funds it, and it helps people either get back to work or find better jobs. More workforce boards use our platform than any other platform.

Griffin: What led you to the workforce niche?

Edwards: It was straightforward. When COVID happened and shut down the world, what did I know? I knew job fairs. I spent years putting on in-person job fairs. We went out to any company that did in-person job fairs, and workforce development was significant in doing this. So, we said, hey, here’s an opportunity for you. We told them to take their events from in-person to online. People didn’t understand it back then. Besides Massachusetts, Virginia did a hiring event with over 15,000 candidates. Florida also did a statewide Veterans job fair on our platform. So, when you look at those things, some of the largest ever job fairs were done on our platform.

Griffin: Unbelievable. Talk to me about their metrics. What are they looking to recruit?

Edwards: There are three types of people involved in the process. You have the host of the event. The host may be workforce development, a college like Florida Atlantic University, or Veterans Organization. So, they’re the host.

Then you have the organizations or employers at the event. They’re the ones that are hiring.

Then you have the attendees or jobseekers. You have Susie - a job seeker, logs in the event, sees locations or industries, clicks on the marketing tab, and then the companies that pull up are looking for people in marketing. She goes in clicks on ABC Marketing, and loves it. She then submits her resume, can research the company, can chat, and go into video in a matter of seconds with that company again. It’s efficient.

The host of the event knows how many people are registered, how many booths they visited, who they visited, and how many chat messages were there. They know how many interviews were scheduled and how many resumes were submitted. So now they can find out their ROI - how many people got hired out of that event. We have all the data, and that can be tracked.

Griffin: So, how do your company get rewarded for your platform?

Edwards: Organizations either pay us for a single event or have an annual license. Over 80% of our clients have at least one year up to a five-year agreement with us. There are many things that go into that, which makes us better because we’re one of the only ones that are truly unlimited. If you want to have five events simultaneously, you could do that. Our competitors do not allow that.

The reward is the reviews we get from our clients. We have a whole team that’s called our client success team. Once a client comes on board with us, they go to the client success team. We train them and we train their hiring organizations. Our client success team gets emails daily about how amazing they are. Not just from the host but from organizations as well. That’s why we’re top-rated on all of the software review sites. That team gets rewarded by the reviews that our clients give us.

Griffin: Very heartfelt. As we wrap up here, what can you tell our readers that are lost right now and want to find their career direction? What advice would you have for them?

Steve Edwards: For candidates - one is to make sure your resume is polished. Don’t just have one resume, have multiple resumes—one for sales, one for leadership, one for engineering, etc. Also, if you’re applying online - have a spreadsheet and update it with the companies that you apply to and the steps you are taking. And don’t just submit your resume to 50 companies. Make sure you research every company to you submit your resume to.

Next, prepare for your interview. Research the company, and make sure you know everything. Here’s what you do, research the person who will be interviewing you. Look them up on LinkedIn. Create 15-20 questions you want to ask during the interview.

An interview should be a conversation. Bring a pen and notebook and write down answers as the interviewee answers. At the end of the interview, ask questions. Show them that you prepared, which shows them that you care.

Now in the virtual world, one thing that you need to do at virtual job fairs is to ensure your profile is complete. You should have everything in there, and don’t leave stuff out. Because on our platform, companies can see their profile and experience. They can watch a video interview on your profile as well. Practice your video interviews. We actually built a platform so that candidates can watch a video and answer questions. So job seekers are practicing their video interviews right on our platform. Now candidates can practice that video interview before they ever get there.

Griffin: Love that. I agree with you; I’ve always told people to go to their interview, take notes, and show them that you really are paying attention to what they say.

Edwards: Exactly. If I’m taking notes, it shows them that I care. And I actually repeat back what they say. Because what is an interview? An interview should be a good conversation. I tell people to research the person a little bit, and if you can’t - research the company. Google them or look them up on LinkedIn.

Griffin: That’s the truth! Steve, this has been fabulous. Thank you so much for your time and for providing such valuable insights about your virtual hiring platform as well as the hiring industry.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post