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What Are Virtual Job Fairs?
Virtual job fairs allow both employers and job seekers to connect with each other in an online event through the use of teleconferencing and chat technology. They help potential candidates find out more about companies and open job positions. These events are typically provided by third-party organizations, and allow candidates to upload their resumes, exchange information, be interviewed, and create meaningful connections with employers.
Why Virtual Job Fairs Are Becoming More Popular
Even though virtual job fairs have been around for several years already, many employers have increased their use of them as technology has evolved. As more opportunities for working remotely have increased, so have the opportunities for virtual job fairs.
Although in-person fairs continue, virtual job fairs done right have the potential to help you engage with a larger number of candidates than traditional job fairs, and likely for less cost. This will help you reduce the time to hire and fill open positions. Sign-up processes for virtual job fairs are generally simple, which allows your organization to easily register and connect with anyone anywhere.
Key Differences Between Virtual and In-Person Fairs
Naturally, there are pros and cons for recruiting at virtual vs. in-person events. Here are a few.
- Cost is a key difference between virtual and in-person fairs. Attending a fair in another city or state could require you to purchase a hotel room, plane tickets, and other travel expenses. Travel expenses and time are saved due to attending fairs virtually rather than in-person, saving both employers and candidates money and time.
- More interviews can be set up and conducted in less time during virtual fairs as compared to in-person. Virtual interviews allow candidates to log in from any internet-connected device and even take less time off work, which increases their availability to be interviewed.
- Engagement levels are typically higher when meeting a person face to face rather than over a video call. If you’re hiring for a role that requires strong social skills, you may prefer in-person fairs in order to accurately assess candidates. Also, testing candidates tends to be easier to do in person rather than virtually.
- Candidates must be familiar with technology in order to participate in virtual fairs, which could make it difficult for them to engage. This means you may have to spend extra time helping a candidate work through technical difficulties. Distractions may also occur, such as a candidate’s baby crying or their pet jumping onto their lap.
Benefits of Representing Your Organization at a Virtual Job Fair
- View a candidate’s details before meeting them. If a candidate schedules a time to meet with you, most platforms allow you to view their details and even their resume before you actually meet them. Familiarize yourself with their job history and other important details in preparation for one-on-one meetings or group sessions.
- Save money. Besides saving time and money, some organizations charge less money for employers to participate in virtual job fairs since they aren’t using a physical booth or electricity to power devices. Many organizations don’t charge anything at all for employers who choose to participate in virtual job fairs.
- Attract online job seekers. You’ll be able to connect with candidates you may wouldn’t meet at a traditional job fair.
- Quality interactions regardless of location. Virtual job fairs have the potential to allow organizations to have personal and meaningful interactions with candidates anywhere, regardless of location.
- Reduce the time to hire. Interacting with a wide variety of candidates in larger numbers gives you better odds of filling your open positions quickly.
How to Find Virtual Job Fairs to Attend
Here are several common hosts of virtual job fairs. Check your local institutions for their offerings, or even nudge them to start such a program.
Colleges and universities. Colleges and universities typically offer several virtual job fairs per year. They also invite students and advertise the fair, which can help get the word out that your company will be there. Creating a relationship with the department(s) aligned with your organization’s mission can be beneficial in alerting you to their best and brightest students.
Online platforms. Many colleges use online platforms such as Handshake to coordinate virtual job fairs. The platforms themselves offer both training and virtual events, so you may consider creating an account and familiarizing yourself with these websites in order to be in the loop when job fairs become available. The platforms often include the ability to invite students you think may be a good fit for open positions to attend the job fair and meet with you.
Trade schools. Students who attend technical or trade schools gain specific skill sets relative to the trade they are interested in having a career in. They can be terrific assets to your organization.
State employment agencies. Job fairs can be found on state employment agencies websites, and are typically open to the general public.
Host your own virtual job fair. This method may take quite a bit more planning and coordination compared to others, but could be beneficial if you have a lot of applicants in your applicant tracking system you want to reach out to. This method has the potential to provide more of a personal touch, since invitations are sent out to specific people; or, you could advertise it on social media.
How to Prepare for a Virtual Job Fair
As Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Be sure to keep the following tips in mind during your preparation for your first virtual job fair.
Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Technology
Make sure you test your speakers and webcam before the day of the virtual job fair. Time is limited, and it’s important to ensure everything is running correctly. Keep in mind that some online video platforms must be configured correctly in order to show videos. If you choose to show a video during your presentation, test it to make sure the sound and picture quality work as you expect. Some organizations allow you to use external video platforms as well.
Step 2: Stick to Your Schedule
Third-party organizations that offer virtual job fairs may allow job seekers to schedule one-on-one meetings with you on the day of the fair. (Some systems allow you to turn this feature on or off.) If you have one-on-ones scheduled back-to-back, it’s important you stick to your schedule and connect with job seekers at the time they registered for. Consider blocking out a small amount of time between interviews in order to allow you to organize things and prepare for the next meeting.
Step 3: Plan How You’ll Record Candidate Answers
The data and answers you gather from job seekers during interviews will help you find the right candidate more quickly if it is kept organized. Will you record answers in an Excel Spreadsheet, an applicant tracking system, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Forms, or simply pen and paper? There are many options, and it’s important to plan for this beforehand.
Step 4: Register for Optional Events
Virtual job fairs may have optional events, such as group sessions or breakout sessions. Registering for these optional events gives your organization maximum exposure to candidates.
Step 5: Post Open Roles
Candidates are generally happier if your company has actual positions open that you are hiring for and advertising during the fair. Make sure that these roles have been posted and can be applied for easily on your company website or job portal.
Step 6. Make a Plan to Follow Up
Make a plan to follow up with candidates you’ve interviewed. Taking the time to let candidates know what step you are at in the hiring process, or even letting them know why or why not they aren’t a good fit for the position, will be beneficial for both sides. If things don’t work out with a candidate now, building a relationship could lead to career opportunities for them and increased networking for you in the future.
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