Who's hiring? Advent Health, Tampa Bay Area transit agencies seek talent for new, open jobs

There was a nursing shortage before the COVID-19 outbreak. Things haven’t gotten easier for healthcare organizations like AdventHealth, which has been trying to recruit for more than 900 positions, the bulk of them for nurses.

The Altamonte Springs-based AdventHealth, which has filled more than 1500 positions in 2021, has been creative in its recruiting efforts, says Michael Kramb, executive director of Human Resources and Human Resources business partner for AdventHealth’s West Florida Division.

“We’ve been doing a lot of social outreach,” he explains. “We continue to do sign-on and relocation incentives as well as virtual and in-person hiring events.”

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunities’ latest labor report, released last Friday, shows the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Service area had 4.5 percent unemployment in August, down from 4.7 percent in July. The workforce grew from 1,645,304 in July to 1,647,335 in August. That data is not seasonally adjusted.  

As the Tampa Bay area continues to deal with COVID, employers are offering various perks to get applicants onboard, including sign-on and relocation bonuses, tuition reimbursement and higher pay.

It’s been “a little bit” harder to recruit at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, according to Brian Abrams, bus transportation manager.

“It seems people are shopping around. They say they are coming and then they may not,” Abrams explains.

Here’s a closer look at what’s happening at AdventHealth and transit agencies on both sides of Tampa Bay.

AdventHealth planning hiring events

In the healthcare industry, agency nurses have gone to COVID hotspots to help out with the higher number of COVID-positive patients. That and a “plethora of reasons” has caused AdventHealth to offer programs like Walk-in Wednesday, where applicants can do on-the-spot interviews at advertised locations. For example, Walk-in Wednesday in planned at AdventHealth Tampa at 3100 E. Fletcher Ave. at from 10 a.m. until noon Wednesday, Sept. 22.

It also is in the planning stages for a comprehensive two-day event at the Amalie Arena this fall to reach out to more talent, he says.

The idea is to bring together hiring leaders and applicants so they can learn more about job opportunities, be interviewed and potentially hired on the spot.

As a result of COVID, AdventHealth began doing virtual hiring, but has tapered this off in favor of in-person hiring.

“Right now everybody is looking for folks that are the right fit,” Kramb says. “We are a mission-driven organization. We are really looking for folks that would fit our service standard [love me, make it easy, own it, and keep me safe].”

As the bulk of its staff is composed of nurses, the open jobs are largely in nursing, along with nursing-related positions.

“The pandemic has hit health care across the country in a very trying way,” he explains. “You add with that increased volumes of COVID-positive patients.”

Pay rates are competitive for the marketplace and details are listed with each position at AdventHealth jobs.

AdventHealth was listing positions last week at 14 different locations in the area, including Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Tarpon Springs, Land O’ Lakes, Temple Terrace, Lutz, Brandon, and Palm Harbor.

Job opportunities for bus operators

Transit services on both sides of Tampa Bay are hiring. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is looking to hire some 85 to 90 drivers during the next 10 months and HART is recruiting some 50 bus operators.

“When you’re a bus operator, you have an office with a different view changing every second. You have a great view of Pinellas County and you can see all the beauty that it offers,” asserts Stephanie Rank, PSTA’s public relations coordinator.

PSTA is replacing retiring drivers and planning ahead for its new rapid transit line between downtown St. Petersburg and the beaches, which is the first of its kind in the region, says Patricia Collins, PSTA’s director of Human Resources.

PSTA has renegotiated pay rates with the Service Employees International Union, which represents bus operators, mechanics and other front-line workers. Under a new three-year contract, wages increase to $16 an hour for trained workers starting October 1. After six months, pay rises to $16.50 an hour; wages are guaranteed to climb to $27.55 within four and a half years.

Those hired before October 1 will start at $12 an hour as a trainee, then automatically receive the higher $15 trainee rate, along with other new hires in training. 

“Don’t wait. Come and join us now,” Collins says.

Employees can grow their careers at PSTA, while enjoying the state pension plan, tuition reimbursement and other benefits.

“We also do have great opportunities for advancement. A lot of our management roles are filled with people who were bus operators,” Collins points out.
Drivers must have a high school diploma, four years of driving experience, and a clean driving record (no more than three traffic violations in the last five years or three years without any traffic violations), says Dana McGlynn, PSTA’s Human Resource manager.    Applicants also must pass the state Department of Transportation physical and a drug screen.

At HART, they are hiring to replace bus operators that are retiring. And the process of interviewing, background checks, and a 10-week training process can take about four months, Abrams says. The starting rate for all new-hire drivers is $15.25 an hour with regular increases; the employee maxes out at $25.99 in year five.

Benefits include tuition reimbursement with Human Relations department approval and the Florida retirement system. There are opportunities for advancement.

Qualifications include a clean driving record with no more than seven points in the last three years and the ability to pass a drug and alcohol screen.

Here’s more news for jobseekers

• The city of Tampa has started its own website for jobseekers: TPA-WRX. Billed as a one-stop shop for career resources, TPA-WRX is tailored for people seeking jobs and job training; it offers links to job boards, educational opportunities and needed resources like childcare. TPA-WRX is one of Mayor Jane Castor’s initiatives intended to help all residents have meaningful careers. Visit Hillsborough County’s job page.

• Those who have had their income impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for the National Dislocated Worker Grant, according to the CareerSource Tampa Bay website. The grant offers $15.50 an hour to participants for working 25 hours a week at a non-profit agency. Positions are available for 12 or 16 weeks, it says.

• Veterans and military families are invited to a hiring event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, September 30, at 8104 Condor St., Bldg. 38, at MacDill Air Force Base. It may change to a virtual event. Learn more from CareerSource Tampa Bay.  

• A Tampa non-profit, Career Focus Inc., is holding a Pasco County career fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, October 14, at Hyatt Place Tampa Wesley Chapel, 26000 Sierra Center Blvd., Lutz.

• The Straz Center for the Performing Arts is holding a job fair on Monday, Sept. 27, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. under a Riverwalk Tent at the Straz Center. Limited free parking will be available in the Straz Center’s Arrival Plaza during the event. Available full-time positions in food and beverage include cooks, sous chef, assistant beverage manager, food and beverage operations assistant manager, restaurant supervisor, beverage supervisor and catering sales manager. Other full-time positions include HVAC tech, maintenance tech, and groundskeeper. Available part-time positions in food and beverage include restaurant servers, restaurant host, food runners/bussers, banquet servers, bartenders, barbacks, baristas, cooks, utility/dishwashers and event set-up crew. Other part-time positions include security officers, security screeners, and ticketing/customer service agents. Potential employees must have received or be willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and be fully vaccinated by date of hire to be considered for employment. For more information or to apply online, visit the Straz Center job postings.

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Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune