If you add up all the people who log into the online workshops on IowaWORKS.gov in a single month, the population would rank #66 out of 1,021 Iowa communities – right between Adel and Oelwein.

So why are roughly 6,000 people logging in each month to take part in IowaWORKS workshops?

The answer, according to IWD Division Administrator Linda Rouse, involves both a growing awareness of the quality of information available and the fact that IowaWORKS staff have listened intently over the years as job seekers voiced a preference for the information they’d like to receive virtually.

“We started experimenting during the pandemic with new ways of reaching out to those Iowans who, for whatever reason, can’t visit an IowaWORKS center in person,” said Rouse, who oversees all IowaWORKS locations. “As we did that, we kept hearing in focus groups, customer surveys, and one-on-one conversations that virtual services something that many people find valuable. By increasing what we do online, we’ve been able to reach many, many more people and help guide them to new careers.”

In March, IowaWORKS career advisors held 40 online workshops with 6,000 participants (an average of 150 people in each). The previous month, 38 workshops drew a total of 6,011 people – the largest attendance figure since statistics began to be recorded in 2023.

The most popular virtual offerings continue to be workshops that provide tips on resume creation, job interviews, and how to properly work search activities to maintain an unemployment claim. Other popular workshops include “Essential Tools for Job Seekers” and “Virtual Job Club,” a large group workshop that involves participants discussing various job search topics and, in come cases, watching and discussing a simulated interview.

Unemployment claimants are automatically registered for three workshops during their first appointment with a Career Advisor as part of IWD’s Reemployment Case Management program. IowaWORKS staff say they frequently receive comments later voicing thanks for the quality of the information presented.

“The popular ones are the broadest ones in terms of introducing topics to individuals that are utilizing our services and seeking out employment,” said Elizabeth Waigand, Deputy Division Administrator for American Job Centers. “For example, the resume is the starting point for any job search. And I think everyone wants tips to make them more comfortable in an interview.”

But other information can be valuable as well. April also saw record attendance for an in-person presentation of “Navigating Ageism in Your Job Search,” a workshop aimed at helping over-50 job seekers deal with things like automated resume screeners that may reject older workers.

Clayton Coder was 57 when he took the Navigating Ageism workshop last year. He immediately changed the way he approached job applications and quickly received contact from four companies – ultimately, leading to a new job.

“Once I took that workshop, it was like a lightbulb went off,” Coder said last year. “It was fantastic… I have no doubt in my mind that it helped me get his job.”

For more information about IowaWORKS workshops, visit www.IowaWORKS.gov and click on “Additional Services” under the “Job Seekers” section. The “Job Readiness Workshops” link there will take you to an events calendar where you can find workshops in your area and online.