Recruiting Principles: Navigating the Virtual Career Fair
Virtual career fairs have been front and center in countless industries as COVID-19 has changed the job searching dynamic. With our contactless world continuing much longer than anticipated, this virtual concept is becoming increasingly more attractive to employers and candidates alike. Business is booming for providers of virtual hiring events such as Brazen and eCareerFair. Prior to COVID-19, these companies were sponsoring around 100 events per week, now it is upwards of 500 (reference). With the end of a pandemic, will we see an end to this virtual hiring business, or will onsite career fairs follow in the footsteps of Blockbuster, floppy disks, and handwritten notes? As a Recruiter with a decade of experience representing companies at onsite career fairs, I think the virtual route is here to stay. Not only is it easier for candidates to attend, but the benefits for employers are making these online events immensely powerful.
So, how does it work?
A virtual job fair is an online event occurring at a scheduled time on a specific channel. The Employer Representative sets up a virtual booth showcasing highlights of the company and the active openings they are looking to fill. Employer Representatives/Recruiters become acquainted with Registrants through chat rooms or video calls throughout the event. Representatives are encouraged to reach out to registrants’ days before the event to extend an invitation to chat at their booth. Once a candidate enters the virtual booth, they have an allotted amount of time to have a professional conversation and ask questions.
Candidate Attendance Data shows that more candidates are attending these events since it removes many barriers for them. Additionally, because less time, money and energy are spent hosting these events, the frequency of events is much higher which allows candidates to attend more of them in a shorter period of time. Moving these events to a remote setting alleviates additional stressors that candidates experience when attending an in-person career fair such as traffic due to the flexibility they provide. It also gives candidates who are interested in relocating a chance to meet with respected companies they would not normally see at local events.
Pre-qualifying Candidates and Companies The setup process for these events provides a benefit to both the candidate and the company. Candidates are required to submit their resume and answer pre-qualifying questions when registering. By requiring candidates to complete these tasks prior to the event, the company can determine if a candidate meets the criteria for the positions being recruited. Candidates are able to familiarize themselves with the attending companies’ virtual booths prior to the event. This allows them the ability to obtain vital information beforehand on the companies’ mission, values, and their open positions. These features are a huge time saver for both parties.
Data Capture By requiring candidates to complete the pre-qualifying questions, the virtual route ensures candidates sign up to attend as opposed to in-person fairs where information is gathered only once they visit certain booths. Every conversation you have with a candidate at a virtual fair will be saved – a genuinely great benefit as it makes it easy to reference past conversations. At in-person career fairs, I could easily collect over 100 resumes. Then, I would be responsible for scanning and manually entering them into the database system used by the company. The virtual career fairs streamline this process and ensure candidate information is stored accurately from the beginning.
Price The cost for employers to sign up for a virtual booth is half as much as onsite fairs. In addition to the actual event and booth fees, you are saving on set-up costs for booth presentation. Additional savings include travel expenses for employees attending the event as well as increased productivity of employees who are no longer spending a full day or more out of the office to run these events. Overall, virtual career fairs are an amazing tool that have made both the job search and job hiring process easier for all parties involved. The businesses hosting these fairs are working to continually improve the process and make the virtual setting more functional and easier to use for both employers and candidates. I think this trend will be a recruiting enhancing tool for many years to come because of its efficient processes and cost-saving measures.