SACKETS HARBOR — As the COVID-19 pandemic dragged on, the number of “help wanted” signs adorning windows of businesses seemed to ever increase. And don’t forget the notes asking for patience at restaurants due to staff shortages.
Despite this, some businesses found success turning to social media to fill open positions.
One such business is The Paisley Lily, located on the village’s West Main Street.
Owner Kendra L. Hamilton started the business in February of last year, but didn’t get to open until a few months later in May due to the pandemic. The business didn’t start hiring outside employees until a couple months ago, having been all family-run up to that point.
The boutique offers items like funny greeting cards, alcohol infused and flavored treats, and irreverent gifts. The first, and only, platform Ms. Hamilton used to search for hires at the time was Facebook Jobs after receiving a message advertising the tool.
“It’s been going really well,” she said. “I see all of these companies that are having a really hard time finding employees, but we’re not having that problem — we have well over probably sixty to seventy applicants.”
She noted that in an effort to stand out, many applicants didn’t send their resumes online, instead opting to bring in paper copies of their resumes. People have called as well about the posting.
“It’s actually been kind of overwhelming,” Ms. Hamilton said. “I didn’t expect such a reaction to the job listing.”
Robert L. Traynham, head of Public Affairs for Facebook, said the company was very pleased to launch Facebook Jobs, a free tool that people can use to find jobs that are the best fit for them. The tool launched in June and has seen millions of people making use of it since. Job seekers can filter their searchers by things like location, desired job title and whether they would like to be full-time, part-time or a contract worker.
“What we wanted to do was to connect people with jobs and connect employers with future employees, free of charge,” Mr. Traynham said.
The unemployment rate in New York is roughly about 7.7%, according to Mr. Traynham, adding, “which is down, but it’s still relatively high.”
He said that according to Facebook’s State of the Small Business Survey, about 38% of New York small businesses “actually reduced employment as a result of the pandemic. What we’re trying to do is make sure that employers have access to employees, and that employees see that they have access to high paying jobs.”
The goal of launching the Facebook Jobs tool was to meet users where they are, which is on their smart devices like tablets and phones. Another useful aspect of the tool is the convenience for those who may be concerned about going out into an interview place, Mr. Traynham said. Job seekers can upload resumes, search for jobs and communicate with potential employers via the free, secure messaging bot. This can be done in the privacy of a home or anywhere users feel comfortable.
According to the state Department of Labor, on a net basis, the total number of non-farm jobs in the state increased by 17,800 in June, while private sector jobs rose by 9,800. At the same time, the total number of non-farm jobs in the nation increased by 850,000, while private sector jobs increased by 662,000.
Nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings shot up to 10.1 million in June, the highest since it started tracking job openings in December 2000. The number of hires rose by 697,000 to 6.7 million, while the number of total separations increased by 254,000 to 5.6 million.
Vacancies increased in all four regions with the job openings rate rising to 6.5% and the largest increases in vacancies in June for professional and business services, retail trade and accommodation and food services.
Since her first posting, Ms. Hamilton has renewed it once so far and said she believes they last for about a month before needing to be renewed. As the open positions are seasonal, running from April to Christmas time, and the boutique is small and family-run, the store has hired a few new employees and hopes to welcome them back next year once the season ends.
Facebook, for the most part, especially during the pandemic before the store could even open, was its main line of communication, helping to relay information about curbside pick-ups and deliveries. Even over a year later, it still is the store’s main form of communication with its customers. If the store needs to be closed early for any reason, Facebook is where Ms. Hamilton posts the information.
The boutique has an Instagram page as well, but Ms. Hamilton said she feels like she can’t relay as much information through the platform as she can through Facebook.
Now that doors are open and things have relaxed, Ms. Hamilton said she mostly uses Facebook to relay information and share new products, noting that sometimes she’ll share new products and instantly have an order on the website for pickup.
“I would say, honestly, in the very beginning it saved our business,” Ms. Hamilton said. “When we could open, we wouldn’t have really had any sales if it wasn’t for Facebook and the information that we could put out there. I think before we even opened our doors, we probably had at least five to seven hundred likes on Facebook already.”
Based on her experience using the Facebook Jobs tool, Ms. Hamilton said she thinks more people should utilize it. An obstacle she thinks might be holding people back from using Facebook Jobs is the fact that many don’t know it exists because it is still so new, it’s not familiar like Indeed or Craigslist. Even so, other local businesses are following suit and posting openings on the platform.
Other village businesses looking for help on Facebook include The Sandwich Bar, Agbotic, Inc., Tin Pan Galley, Robbins Family Grain and North Harbor Dairy, and The Whiskey Coop.
“I never put a help wanted sign in my window or anything like that, I only utilized Facebook,” she said. “For anyone that’s not doing that that’s looking for employees, I think they’re really missing out on an opportunity.”