Large organizations with high employer brand cred are often the early adopters of innovative recruiting strategies. Lately, Google, Amazon, IBM and others have been in the news for their participation in virtual career fairs, which may signal a new best practice on the horizon. Could virtual career fairs bring a stream of qualified candidates into your hiring process? Read to learn more about the types of virtual job fairs, the advantages, and must-dos for a successful virtual hiring event.
What are virtual career fairs?
Virtual career fairs are a digital-age remake of a decades-old recruiting strategy. Veteran recruiters will remember the days when job fairs were packed with people. They came away with dozens of high-potential candidates and even great on-the-spot hires.
With talent shortages and the rise of online connection, traditional jobs fairs are losing their appeal for both candidates and recruiters. Virtual job fairs are a modern way for recruiters to engage online with candidates actively looking and interested in their organization.
Types of virtual career fairs
Virtual career fairs can be divided into two categories: events hosted by a third party like a college or trade/professional association, and events you host yourself. Within each category there are many variations on candidate engagement strategy, and a range of technologies to help you accomplish it.
The easy entry point
Virtual job fairs hosted by a third party are a low-risk way to pilot the strategy for your organization. Many colleges offer virtual career fairs in order to put more employers in touch with their students and give recruiters a chance to build brand awareness before they visit the campus. Industry groups do the same, especially those whose members are already recruiting nationwide for high-volume positions, like financial services.
The upside of hosted virtual career fairs is that it’s simple to participate with their platform, and can be relatively low-cost. There are opportunities to showcase your employer brand and types of open roles you have. You can hold information sessions and talk one-on-one with interested candidates. The downside is that you’re one of many employers competing for the same talent in the event.
Here’s how they work:
- Candidates register for the event from the virtual career fair landing page or via text. They’re asked to submit a resume.
- TA teams see the candidate information in advance and can invite specific candidates to their booth during the event for a one-on-one recruiter chat.
- During the event, candidates visit virtual booths to check out different employers and start a chat with a recruiter.
- After the event, TA teams follow up with high-potential candidates, and may receive metrics for their booth traffic.
Prior to the virtual career fair, you’ll have the opportunity to upload employer brand materials and enter data that will generate your virtual booth. During the event, you’ll need several recruiters and possibly hiring managers to take part in candidate conversations. Some virtual career fair platforms enable you to have multiple one-on-one chats with candidates simultaneously.
If your team uses an enterprise interviewing platform, a virtual job fair is one strategy for bringing candidates directly into your hiring process. Invite candidates from the advance registration list and those you chat with during the event to complete an on-demand text, video or voice interview. You can also post the link to on-demand interviews in your virtual booth.
Hosting your own virtual career fairs
For TA teams that do a lot of high-volume hiring, have time-sensitive hiring needs, or prefer to raise their employer brand profile, holding your own virtual job fair could be the better strategy. Virtual career fair vendors provide booth-hosting services. Pricing is typically by the number of booths you need as well as number of recruiters participating. Look for a vendor who will support you in each step of the process, from creating a landing page for your virtual career fair and your booth to the metrics. Some also allow you to post the relevant jobs in the platform.
Advantages of virtual career fairs
Virtual career fairs do have many advantages, especially if online candidate engagement is already part of your recruiting strategy and workflow. Some of the benefits include:
- Extends reach to candidates who work remotely
- Convenience for candidates can lead to a larger candidate pool
- Improves hiring efficiency for high-volume positions across geographies, like entry-level financial services, technology and retail roles
- Raises your employer brand awareness
- Can elevate candidate quality
- Saves recruiter time and travel costs
- Student engagement in virtual fairs prior to your college visits can make your time on campus more strategic
Candidate experience is the priority
Most of the must-dos for a successful virtual career fair are related to your candidates’ experience with you before, during and after the event. Ask these questions as you prepare:
- Will the virtual job fair take place during hours when your candidates can participate?
- Does your virtual booth do a strong job of conveying your employer brand?
- Are you getting the word out so candidates are aware of your event and can easily register?
- Will you send reminders to candidates the day of your virtual career fair?
- Will you have enough recruiters participating to handle the one-on-ones, so candidates are no waiting to chat?
- Are you prepared with the next action you’d like candidates to take, whether it’s completing an on-demand interview or scheduling a live interview?
- Do you have a plan for follow up with all candidates who visit your booth, whether you’ll advance them or not?
Just like any talent acquisition tactic, the decision to do it should be guided by the quality of the candidate experience you can provide. For many employers, virtual career fairs are a complementary addition to digital hiring.