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virtual career fair

Virtual Career Fair: Top 5 Questions Answered

Are you interested in hosting your own virtual career fair, but need a little more info first? You’re not alone, and we got you covered.

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Virtual career fairs are new twists on a recruiting staple. Once upon a time, recruiters from like-industries or with similar candidate needs would gather in a hall, set up booths, and meet potential applicants. It was a way for recruiters to contact high volumes of talent that were actively seeking employment. 

Today, the busy schedules of candidates as well as pandemic safety guidelines have encouraged recruiters to find creative alternatives for large, in-person gatherings. Enter the virtual career fair. Virtual career fairs take the expo hall online, yielding the same high volume recruiter-candidate interaction without breaking social distance codes. But it’s not all about health regulations, it’s about looking to the future.

This method of recruiting was a long time coming. Back in 2017 a Gallup poll already reported that almost half of employed Americans had worked remotely for some amount of time and 2018 US Census data showed 5.2% of employed Americans working entirely from home. Researchers from Harvard Business School have even found in initial studies that working from home or remotely can increase productivity. So if organizations can benefit from remote work, then why can’t recruiting? 

Indeed, recruiting stands to gain a great deal from harnessing the power of virtual events, but some are reluctant to take the leap without more concrete information. We understand, so we put together the top five need to know questions to get you started on your path to virtual recruiting

1. What does a virtual career fair look like?

A virtual career fair is an online information session that you can host a single organization or with partners. Candidates will join a large video conference call and the host will present a video or slides about the company and available positions. Allow time at the end for a Q&A session and be sure to send follow up communications to the attendees. 

2. What are the benefits of a virtual career fair?

Hosting an online event can save you time and money. You can cross off ‘venue,’ ‘booth,’ and ‘printed materials’ from your budget–while erasing all transportation time for you and your team. Think of the stress you will save as well, with no last minute changes or cancelations brought on by health concerns: An online event can take place as long as the wifi is on.

In addition, if you are serious about scaling your hiring then you need to be able to think bigger than your city or region, there’s a whole world of talent out there to recruit. The fact is, virtual events have the ability to reach a greater talent pool than those that are in-person. 

Virtual career fairs have advantages for candidates as well. Potential applicants may find it easier to attend a virtual event, as they won’t have to worry about transportation, travel time, child care etc. Life is hectic for all of us and even interested talent may find it hard to attend an in person event–especially if they are already employed. 

Beyond the practicality of virtual career fairs, these events are powerful drivers of employer brand. Top tier candidates will appreciate the flexibility and creativity of companies who harness their tech to save them time and keep them safe.

3. What are the disadvantages of a virtual career fair?

It’s easy for a virtual event to slip people’s minds. Candidates may not feel as committed to an online RSVP as to an in-person one. So be sure to send out reminders and calendar invites to facilitate attendance. It doesn’t hurt to point out in the invite that there will be a live element to the event so would be attendees feel motivated to show up.

At a traditional career fair, you will get time to interact with candidates one on one or in small groups. These small interactions–a handshake, a face to face conversation–can make a big difference. It’s harder to make personal connections in an online forum. This is where your planning and comfort with your tools will show. Let candidates know at the beginning of the session how and when they can ask questions and consider doing breakout sessions for a more intimate feel. Make sure to follow up with attendees with next steps, a simple email does the trick.

4. How do I plan a virtual career fair?

A virtual career fair can be planned from your desk without much fuss, but you’ll need to be organized and strategic. 

  • Before: Choose your conferencing platform, create a landing page with your event info, promote on social channels and via email, send out invites, and prepare your presentation.
  • Day-of: Send out reminders, test your camera/microphone, and get ready to meet some awesome talent. During your presentation keep an eye on the chat for questions.
  • After: Congratulate your team, thank any helpers (even those who shared your event on their social channels), send follow-up emails to candidates with next-steps, and track your metrics like invite to attendee ratio to create an even more successful event next time!

5. What is the best recruiting technology to set up a successful virtual career fair?

The tech element is generally the most intimidating aspect of planning a virtual career fair, but most of the tech you need you probably already use. Keep it simple and focus on the main three:

  • Recruiting Chatbot: Utilize a chatbot with advanced, conversational AI, like SmartPal, to recruit at scale and at an efficient pace that will improve your hiring velocity.
  • Recruitment CRM: Use this for sending out invites, reminders, and follow ups. Consider creating a landing page with the event info and field for candidates to sign up for an invite.
  • Video tool: Whether Zoom or Google hangouts select a video tool and test it out beforehand–even if it’s just a test run at your next team  meeting.
  • Social Media: Leverage your social channels to put out the word about your virtual career fair and link them to your landing page. If you have a large facebook audience then consider making an event page.

Jackson Hille

Senior Marketing Manager at SmartRecruiters