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How to Run a Successful Virtual Career Fair and Why Doing It Online Might Be the Best Option

Virtual career fairs saw a huge rise in popularity during 2020 for obvious reasons. What’s less obvious is the fact that they’ve retained that increased level of popularity. And it’s likely the virtual job fair is here to stay, thanks to the advantages that online fairs offer.

Why Online Is the Best Option for a Career Fair

Efficient: Online career fairs help you speed up the process of screening and meeting with candidates. One reason for this is that it’s easier for virtual recruitment processes to target advertising and invitations to specific groups of candidates who may be exploring career opportunities. As a result, less time is spent on screening—and the pool of candidates is typically higher quality too.

Cost-effective: Virtual events tend to be easier and more affordable to organize compared to their live counterparts. This goes for virtual career fairs as well as other event types. In-person events mean travel, accommodations, venue hire, and other expenses. None of that is required for an online career fair, so less money is spent on the event.

The increase in efficiency and cost-effectiveness makes the virtual format particularly suitable for companies hiring in high-volume. Whether it’s for seasonal work or any time of year, going virtual makes it easier to recruit hundreds or even thousands of candidates in less time than a live hiring event. It’s also easier—and more affordable—to scale a virtual job fair from a small event to a larger one.

Accessible: Another major reason why a virtual job fair is the best option is all about accessibility and equal opportunity. In general, virtual events are much more accessible to a wider variety of people exploring career opportunities than live events. This includes people with disabilities and people who are unable to travel to a live event for financial or logistical reasons. It can also include job seekers who are currently employed and don’t have lots of time to attend events in person or who want to keep their job-seeking activities private. If you’re head-hunting in a competitive industry, this can be a definite equal opportunity advantage.

By making the event more accessible, you open your recruitment opportunities to a much wider range of people. There are major benefits to encouraging diversity in the workplace, and holding a virtual career fair can help you get there.

Is There a Downside to Holding an Online Career Fair?

Of course, there are potential drawbacks to holding a job fair online. Perhaps the most important is that it’s harder to build relationships with people when you don’t get to meet them in person. That can mean new hires may feel ill-at-ease when they start a new job without having ever met hiring managers at their new workplace. However, this issue can be minimized with a good onboarding process.

Another potential problem is that some job seekers may feel uncomfortable using the tech needed to attend an online career fair. Candidates who aren’t tech-savvy can be at a disadvantage in online interviews. If those people don’t come across well in an interview, you may miss out on someone who’s otherwise an excellent fit. One way to address this issue might be to hold an orientation session prior to the virtual job fair. This would let candidates spend some time getting to know the event platform so they’re comfortable using it once the event starts.

How to Plan a Virtual Career Fair

1. Choose a Platform

Virtual events platforms have a wide range of perks that make them ideal for hosting online career fairs. You could choose a bare-bones job fair platform where candidates can have text-based conversations or a fully 3D virtual venue with lots of extras:

  • Branded lobbies and other virtual spaces with marketing messages and recruitment content
  • Video clips of workplace tours, job previews, or messages from department heads
  • Exhibit halls with booths that showcase companies, careers, and recruiters
  • Private rooms where candidates can meet and video chat with recruiters

2. Develop an Event Strategy

Once you have your platform in place, you can start to plan the event itself. Organizing an online career fair won’t require as much time as a live event, but there are still some points to consider:

  • Event type – For instance, is this a single-company event or are you hosting in combination with other employers or recruiters? Is this aimed at career exploration, or are you looking to hire?
  • Budget workup, including the cost of your job fair platform, plus any other resources needed for the event
  • Your target audience segments – Are you looking for current college students, graduating students, recent grads, or people with specific experience? What job titles do you want to fill, and in what departments?
  • Number of candidates you’re hoping to attract or the number you expect to attend
  • Number of new hires you’re looking for
  • Additional content – Including speakers and other types of content can be an effective way to attract more event attendees.
  • Any digital assets and other resources you need to create – This might include prerecorded video content as well as written content.
  • Software requirements – For instance, along with your virtual events platform, it’s also good to have applicant-tracking software and resume-parsing software, as well as a scheduling program.
  • Additional staff for the event – Do you need a marketing team, content creators, resume readers, hiring managers, or moderators for chatrooms and channels?

3. Create a Marketing Plan

Once you have your event strategy planned out, you can address your marketing strategy. This might include further pinning down details about:

  • Your target audience
  • Marketing channels
  • Marketing content
  • A way for people to sign up for the online job fair

Make sure to coordinate with any other companies hiring at your event or recruitment organizations with whom you might be working.

4. Keep Signups Engaged Leading Up to the Event

Once people start to register for the hiring fair, it’s important to engage with them right up until event day. By keeping people engaged, you help ensure they’re motivated to show up.

  • Add signups to an email list and send out periodic email blasts to keep people informed about new developments, such as speakers and other event content.
  • Encourage people who register to upload their resumes early. This is useful because it gives you a head start on vetting recruits. Plus, it’s a way of getting people to invest some time and effort into the event. Once they do that, they’re more likely to show up.
  • Use social media to connect with current and potential registrants.

5. Follow Up After the Job Fair

Once the online career fair is over, there are a number of ways to follow up with event attendees. Using a virtual events platform will provide plenty of data on attendee behavior, but you can also obtain direct feedback with a post-event survey. Use this information to plan future events, and your virtual job fairs will improve over time.

Adding the Hybrid Element to an Online Career Fair

What if you want to hold a virtual hiring fair that also has a live component? Or to put it another way, hold a hybrid career fair? Opting for a hybrid event can give you the best of both live and virtual options, but it’s important to do this thoughtfully. Because hybrid events combine in-person and virtual elements, they require a higher budget. They also need more planning time and more finesse when it comes to executing the event.

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning a hybrid job fair:

  • Do you have in-house space to accommodate the number of in-person attendees you’re expecting, or are you planning to find a live event venue?
  • Are you looking to hold the online and in-person events on the same day or on different days?
  • Will people have the option to participate in both formats, or will they be restricted to online-only or in-person attendance? This is important because if people can switch between the two formats, it’s more crucial to create a seamless hybrid experience.
  • What will the live experience be like as compared to the virtual experience? If you’re offering content such as speakers or panels, how will you make this accessible to both live and virtual attendees?
  • Will other employers, sponsors, or participating organizations have the option to create both physical and virtual booths?

Virtual Career Fairs Offer a Powerful Way to Meet and Recruit New Employees

With all the unique benefits of virtual events at your fingertips, planning a virtual job fair has the potential to upgrade your recruitment game in a big way. By going online, you can reduce expenses and increase and diversify your pool of candidates. This leads to the best recruit for every position.

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