EDAWN: ‘Work Live Play’ site seeing rise in resumés
RENO, Nev. — For years, when members of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada talked to jobseekers at different industry conferences across the country, they noticed a trend.
“… People were pretty consistently telling us that they weren’t even looking at Nevada, much less looking at Northern Nevada, as a place for work,” Nancy McCormick, Vice President of Business Retention, Expansion & Workforce for EDAWN, told the NNBW. “If they weren’t in the traditional industries that Nevada was known for — like gaming, mining and entertainment — they really didn’t know about what was here and didn’t think to look.”
With Northern Nevada emerging from the Great Recession as a diversified economy, fueled by tech giants like Tesla and Panasonic planting a flag in the region thanks to generous tax breaks, EDAWN wanted to help change the national narrative of what Reno-Sparks offers.
With that, in March 2016, the organization launched a website, WhyReno.org. Two years later, in 2018, the site was changed to WorkLivePLayRenoTahoe.com, a “collaborative initiative to help recruit talented people who enjoy living in a vibrant community, with a great lifestyle and exciting career opportunities,” according to EDAWN.
The shift appears to be paying off. The website, which was redesigned in the fall of 2019, averages about 2,000 users per month, with a returning rate of about 2%, said Amy Fleming, director of workforce development at EDAWN.
“We saw a dip in April and May, but then June and July picked right back up to where we were pre-pandemic levels,” Fleming said.
After the COVID crisis spread into Nevada, Fleming said EDAWN shifted the focus of the site’s blog. Pre-pandemic, it was used as a vehicle to feature local tech and advanced manufacturing companies in need of filling high-demand, high-skilled positions.
Now, the blog features local employers in the biotech and healthcare community that are supporting the pandemic response — from Hamilton Medical to Renown Health — and highlights their demand for talent.
To that end, in March, the website also launched a “seeker newsletter” that goes out to everyone in its database every other week. The newsletter, Fleming said, features employers that have “hard-to-fill” or “urgent-to-fill” positions that support operations in response to the pandemic.
Moreover, the blog recently highlighted Reno’s growing popularity as a destination for remote workers — a trend that could be accelerated by the pandemic.
Fact is, more and more entrepreneurs and tech founders from the Bay Area and beyond are trading the traffic and high cost of living for more space and a higher quality of life in greater Reno-Sparks.
“When people are really looking to flee the congestion of the larger metros, whether it’s because of COVID or whatever the case, they are looking for somewhere else to go,” Fleming said. “I think now more than ever people are looking at Reno as an escape from the city.”
The data show as much.
Fleming said the number of resumés submitted through the website are on the rise — jobseekers submitted a total of 85 in June and July combined, more than double the combined total of April and May (38).
“They’re actually our highest months that we’ve received this year,” Fleming said. “It’s pretty significant.”
In January, EDAWN also upgraded WorkLivePlayRenoTahoe.com to bring attention to the “work” section, which allows jobseekers to submit resumés and identify all of the industries they are interested in.
“We ask for quite a bit of information (from jobseekers) to streamline access on the back end for employers,” Fleming said. “Ultimately, this is about meeting local employer needs. If it’s not easy for them, it’s not valuable.”
Fleming noted the website does not have a job board, but rather provides a list of local companies hiring in advanced manufacturing, construction, engineering, healthcare, logistics and tech.
Clicking on the logos of the companies, however, will take users to the respective companies job boards.
“We want to be able to demonstrate the industries that are growth-industries here that are looking for people, so that they can get more of a feel for who’s in the area,” Fleming said. “Right now, that could be important because we might have dislocated workers that have been laid off and their jobs aren’t coming back, so they may need to explore outside of their comfort zone a little bit.”
McCormick and Fleming pointed out that EDAWN is happy to see locals using the website to explore and find job opportunities, as well. In July, the unemployment rate in greater Reno-Sparks was 8.1%, down from 8.7% in June — and well below the roughly 16% rate in the greater Las Vegas area, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
“It’s not just about attraction from the outside,” McCormick said. “It’s really about connecting employers and seekers wherever they may be; enticing them to come here or connecting them if they’re already here.
“It’s very tough to hear when we have seekers that are really qualified saying, ‘we’re looking for jobs and we just can’t find them.’ And we have employers saying, ‘we’re looking for seekers and we just can’t find them.’ This was just another thing to incorporate into the site that could help to address that.”
Construction could begin next year and require about 500 to 600 workers, with a permanent workforce starting at 150 to 200 people with potential to expand.