A virtual job fair can take many forms – a single-company or multi-employer fair, a career exploration fair, a branding event, or a fair aimed exclusively at recent college graduates. Participating in a virtual career fair will pay off only if you – whether employer or applicant – have a set plan that is executed in a way that’s aligned with your objectives. Let’s take a look at virtual job fairs from the viewpoint of the employer and the job seeker!
Pros & Cons
- The safety and security of all attendees when social distancing is required or preferred;
- The savings of time and money for recruiters, companies, and job applicants;
- Essentially unlimited space means that more people can attend virtual career fairs;
- The ability for employers to connect with job seekers who may have been unable to travel to a physical venue;
- Data analytics can be used to measure the overall success of the event;
- Virtual career fairs can remain open indefinitely, so job seekers can visit and connect with recruiters anytime;
- They allow employers to engage with past attendees and easily tap into existing talent pools; and
- The reduction of the environmental impact of the event.
- No in-person interactions, so recruiters and employers may not be able to get a detailed impression of potential employees;
- Job seekers may leave the event feeling like they haven’t connected well enough with prospective employers;
- The immediacy of the event, and a call to action, may be lost; and
- They require an investment in virtual career platform software, webinar software, applicant tracking systems, etc., and the training of event staff to use these platforms properly.
Employers at the virtual fair
As an employer, it’s important to define your goals for a career fair. Consider the following questions:
- Will it be an employer branding event or do you want to hire a certain number of candidates on the spot for the jobs you have at hand?
- Do you want to conduct interviews during the virtual career fair?
- What types of candidates do you want to attract?
- How do you want to engage your attendees? Which features will you be able to leverage for engagement?
Once your goals are clear, thorough planning must take place before the actual event. If this is a multi-employer fair, check with the organizers as to what they will provide in the way of staffing, virtual booths, technical support, etc. If you are holding the event yourself, choose an event platform that can provide you with the software and support to ensure success.
Many platforms are available to choose from and the right one for your organization will depend on your criteria:
- How will you communicate with applicants? Choices can include chat windows, video conferences, and conference calls;
- Scheduling – open-house or specific hours?;
- security – be sure the chosen platform offers security for the exchange of information;
- Branding – does the platform design convey your company’s or organization’s brand? The custom event landing page will set the tone of the event and your organization’s brand. The ability to customize your booth will also be important in maintaining your brand identity;
- Customization – how flexible is the platform? and,
- Results – will you receive data on event registrations, turnout, engagement stats, and metrics?
Designing your booth
Your virtual booth is an important part of the event. This is where direct engagement can take place and where you can best define your organization. The booth or booths can represent your entire organization or different departments if you are holding a single company event. In competitive hiring markets, your booth will help you stand out.
Things you can feature in your booth include:
- A list of open vacancies by department, region, etc;
- Downloadable and shareable company benefits;
- Social media handles and contact information;
- Corporate and introductory videos;
- A photo gallery showcasing work life at the company;
- 3D avatars customized to ensure diversity and inclusivity;
- Appointment-booking and scheduling features on chat; and
- Audio and video meetings in private chat windows
User Guides for Attendees
A user guide for visitors can be shared during registration, so that your attendees are well prepared on the day of the event. Let attendees know what to expect, how to navigate the event, and how to best make use of various facilities – such as networking lounges, etc. Make them aware of all the resources available for them to view and download. You can also compile the most repeated queries and submit FAQs with detailed answers. Collect and answer questions as the event is taking place.
Additional spaces and features
Depending on the scope of your virtual career fair, you may also want to create additional spaces – such as meeting rooms for in-depth interviews – and set up features such as videos, info packets, virtual tours, and live streams of guest speakers. Are you recruiting for a certain geographical region or city? Consider including virtual tours of the area, highlighting local attractions and amenities such as schools, housing, transportation, etc.
Your virtual career fair can occur over a defined amount of time, but may also be partially kept live on your website. The general resources you share at your virtual booth can remain available to potential applicants, such as recorded webinars, company benefits, etc. along with information on how to submit a CV.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
You will want to measure the success of the virtual job fair, especially with regard to planning future events. Some KPIs to measure include:
- Registration information: The number of people who registered to attend your event, and their personal data;
- Attendees: those who actually attended the event after registering. Strong matches can be chosen to generate a mailing list for future follow up;
- Applications: What percentage of applications received are strong matches?
- Chat room interactions: Use this information to generate leads and engage with them in future;
- Questionnaires/Polls: the data collected from surveys and polls conducted can be used to cluster visitors based on their responses so that different messages can be sent to these groups accordingly;
- Engagement & traffic metrics: View how many people downloaded documents, viewed files, etc., and how many people entered your virtual auditorium, exhibit hall, each booth, and what actions they took there. You can also track how many attended your virtual webinars and other sessions.
Job seekers at the virtual fair
As with any job search, whether virtual or in real life, preparation is important. First, and most importantly, make sure to test your internet prior to attending the fair. Also, as funny as it may sound, dress for a real-life event. You may have a video chat with a potential employer, but – even if you don’t –dressing professionally makes a difference! Practice using your video camera and sound system by having a conversation with a friend to be sure you are comfortable and presenting yourself at your best.
In preparing for the job search, if you are attending a multi-company event, make a shortlist of the companies you are interested in speaking with and prepare specific questions for the representatives of those companies. Research the event landing page as it may list available jobs, mention speakers and presenters you can google and can aid you in customizing your CV. Some event websites will lead to an external site where you can complete an application and submit your CV prior to the event.
When preparing your CV, keep in mind the need to adapt it for assessment by applicant tracking systems (ATS). Recent studies have shown that 99% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS in the hiring process. These systems collect and sort thousands of resumes to help recruiters and hiring managers to stay organized as well as EEOC compliant. Applicant tracking systems automatically compare a resume to the job description, and then score and rank the applicants.The ATS often uses key skills and titles in this process, making it important for employers to define these factors and for applicants to include them on their resumes. Some ATS parse the document into a digital profile that is uniform and searchable. An ATS-friendly resume that can be parsed correctly needs to have simple section headings, uses consistent formatting for work history and dates, avoids tables, and uses a .docx or .pdf file format.
At the event, take advantage of the communication platforms available – whether text, audio, or video chat. Use your prepared questions and be prepared to answer any questions you are asked.
Be sure to attend any webinars offered by companies of interest. Companies use webinars to reach out to potential candidates, communicate what the company stands for, and conduct Q&A sessions. They may also be tracking attendance for their own ROI assessments, and your level of engagement can show your interest in the company.
Potential employers will often create a resource center where you can download e-books, brochures, presentation notes, etc. These can help you in assessing the company, asking relevant questions, being prepared to answer any questions you receive, and follow-up after the conference.
After the event, send thank you notes to the employers with whom you interacted. This will help reinforce the relationship and can give you the opportunity to ask further questions and for another appointment.