Written by Chris Russell
4th August, 2021
How to Host a Virtual Career Fair?
Well before the Covid pandemic, virtual job fairs were gaining on their live counterparts. Since Covid, these events have surged in popularity, so much so that Brazen, a leading provider of virtual recruiting events, says there are now five times as many virtual job fairs each week.
And why not? The only difference between a live hiring event and a virtual career fair is the buzz from other interviews and the handshake and eye contact between recruiter and job seeker. More than making up for that is the convenience and cost effectiveness. No traffic and parking hassles for candidates who can “drop in” when they want and interview from home.
For employers, the advantages are even greater. Virtual hiring events are far less expensive to host. They can run over multiple days and many more candidates can be accommodated. When you have multiple jobs, a virtual hiring event helps fill them fast.
So how do you host a virtual career fair?
It’s never been easier. Dozens of companies offer career fair platforms that range from the simple to highly sophisticated ones that let you customize interview “booths,” post videos, schedule and pre-screen candidates and deliver resumes and candidate leads to your ATS and CRM.
Step one is to have a hiring plan. That will help you narrow down your choice of platform. You need to set goals and know how many different jobs you’ll be hiring for. How many recruiters and hiring managers will participate? This will let you know how many booths or chat rooms you’ll need. Will candidates be pre-screened? Most career fair software enable pre-screening questions with the successful candidates scheduling an interview slot or going immediately into an interview.
Do you want to include videos? They’re a good way to give candidates a preview of the work place and introduce them to the company culture. A career fair is a branding opportunity.
You also need to consider candidate registration. Some platforms provide a registration landing page. You can also use an event registration platform like Eventbrite or incorporate a registration form on your career page.
Step two: Become comfortable with the technology you’ll be using. Practice as if you’re conducting a live event. Have employees act as job seekers interacting with your recruiting team. Be sure to get their feedback. You want the candidate experience to be positive, which means having everything run smoothly. As Brazen’s VP of Marketing said, “The last thing you want to do is invite a candidate to chat with you in a virtual event and then not have anyone available to chat.”
Step three: With your goals spelled out, your plan in place, your platform selected and your dates set, promote your event widely. Choose your media based on the audience you want to reach – entry-level, blue-collar, specific job types, etc. If you have a talent community, email them and post to your group on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Niche job boards are a way to reach specific types of job seekers.
Step four: As the date approaches, be sure to send reminders. You want to make sure your registered job seekers show up, so remind them. The more sophisticated career fair platforms will automate these reminders, sending them out as email or text messages. Augment these reminders with tips on how to prepare and what to expect. A day or two before, send registrants details on how to navigate the virtual career fair. Have them upload their resume before the event.
Your team also needs to have their interview questions in mind and have created and customized their individual booths. Review the criteria for sending candidates to hiring managers and how the team is to rate candidates and leave notes.
You’ll also want to decide what metrics to collect and how you’ll follow-up with participants. At a minimum, you’ll want to know how many job seekers registered, how many showed, how many interviews were conducted and how many offers or hiring manager referrals were made or how many candidates will go on in the hiring process.
Step five: On career fair day, launch early to test all systems are working and that your team is in place. Have one person assigned as a troubleshooter. Make that their only job for the day. They can also fill in should someone need to step away from their booth for a while.
Step six: Follow-up with all the candidates. Separate the no-shows sending them an email encouraging them to directly apply or to become part of your talent community. Thank all those who did interview and invite them to stay in touch.
Virtual Career Fair Followup
Debrief with your staff and get feedback from the candidates. A survey to all participants will help you improve your next virtual career fair. Include open-ended questions in your survey so they can offer suggestions and let you know what they enjoyed and what needs work.
How many jobs were filled and candidates in the hiring pipeline may be the most important measures of a successful virtual career fair. But don’t overlook the importance of the candidate experience. A net promoter question will tell you what they thought of the overall event.
A candidate who may not have gotten an offer this time, but who had a good experience is more likely to refer others and return again when a job that’s a better fit may be available.
John Zappe contributed.