Virtual career fairs (also known as virtual hiring events, virtual job fairs or online career fairs) are the next step in the evolution of hiring. Our virtual career fair guide explains that, while in person hiring events served recruiting teams well for years, the pandemic prompted employers to pivot to virtual recruiting with online job fairs—and now virtual career fairs are an indispensable part of a successful talent acquisition strategy.
Virtual career fairs are also what job seekers want. A vast majority (83%) of candidates who participated in an event on the Brazen platform said they prefer virtual recruiting events to in-person career fairs. In our virtual career fair guide, we will address everything there is to know about virtual career fairs—from why they are a crucial part of your recruiting strategy, how to market your events, how to plan for your events, and why video and other virtual career fair features can take your events to the next level.
And, of course, we’ll address one question everyone is asking: how much do virtual career fairs cost?
For employers in every industry, virtual career fairs are a logical, easy, and effective way to bring amazing people into your organization, but it can be overwhelming to understand the planning, promoting, and other pieces of the puzzle for a successful online career fair. That’s why we’re breaking it all down for you here.
A virtual career fair (noun) is just like a traditional in-person career fair, but hosted exclusively online. Job seekers use a unique link to join the online career fair event, where they can view videos from recruiters and hiring managers, and chat in real time with live recruiters about job openings. Virtual career fairs can be hosted by a potential employer to fill internal positions, or hosted by an organization to showcase multiple employers targeting the same talent pool, skill set, or geographic location. These events help employers, universities, and member organizations connect with top talent regardless of their locations.
Why do I need virtual career fairs?
The 2020 pandemic brought into sharp focus the need for virtual job fair options while in-person events were nearly impossible with stay-at-home orders. Over time, employers have realized there are far more benefits to virtual career fairs, compared with the complex burden (and diminishing returns) of in-person hiring events. In person career fairs are expensive and time-consuming. Taking your career fairs into the virtual realm alleviates these burdens.
fairs cut costs drastically since you no longer have to cover any travel or venue rental expenses. They also require much less time to prepare—an online job fair can be set up in about an hour and later be used as a template for future events. Plus, it doesn’t require your recruiters or hiring managers to miss days of work to stand at a booth, which is common during an in-person fair.
Additionally, virtual career fairs open you up to talent pools you may never have considered. Because it is so easy to host an online hiring event, you can get more strategic with your hiring and target specific groups. This can help you find talent for hard-to-fill positions, support your diversity and inclusion efforts, or connect you with military and veteran candidates, just to name a few examples.
Most TA professionals who have experienced the advantages of hosting virtual career fairs can’t stop raving about the benefits. In 2022, we surveyed 230 TA professionals, who told us about the benefits they enjoy the most:
80% said convenience to connect from wherever, whenever;
723% said saving time and money;
63% said increasingaccess to unique talent pools; and
45% said supporting diversity hiring.
Those four benefits topped the list in our survey, but the true benefits of virtual career fairs are nearly endless. Virtual career fairs also:
Differentiate: Stand above the noise of all the other employers trying to hire from the same candidate pool.
Lower Costs:Avoid all the costs associated with in-person career fairs such as travel and lodging costs, shipping costs and even missed work.
Speed: Since you can have multiple conversations at once, online job fairs allow you to find top talent more quickly than in-person career fairs, reducing your time to hire.
Efficiency: Screen and interview more candidates in less time, with less staff.
Control: You control the set up, who attends, and who you want to talk to resulting in a more efficient and effective recruiting process.
Wider Reach: Reach candidates from all over the world. No longer are you limited by your physical location. Nearly half (45%) of TA professionals we surveyed said that the biggest improvement in their current hiring process would be through reaching more candidates.
Mind the Communication Shift: Communicating virtually has become par for the course. Online career fairs offer the same form of communication. Take advantage of this shift.
Convenience: With online job fairs, you choose the time or times that are most convenient for you and your attendees. Want to host an online event over lunch on a Thursday because it is the only time the passive candidates you are trying to hire can connect with you? No problem.
Amazing Candidate Experience: Giving candidates an easy way to connect and communicate with your team shows candidates you care which will give you a leg up in the competition for top talent.
When are virtual career fairs the best approach?
Online job fairs and virtual hiring events have an unlimited number of use cases. If you are a single organization looking to hire new employees, virtual recruiting events are a great way to scale your hiring efforts, giving you the ability to pre-screen, assess, interview, and build relationships, all in one platform. Virtual career fairs are also a great strategy for targeting candidates for positions that can be challenging to recruit for. Using an online job fair for campus recruiting can help recruiters reach more candidates while providing the immersive candidate experience college students and recent grads are looking for. Online job fairs are also a good match for hiring veterans, focusing on internal mobility, and recruiting for hard-to-fill roles like nursing or technical jobs.
Choosing the right vendor for your needs means asking the right questions. At minimum, we recommend asking about (or researching for yourself):
Virtual job fair features and functionality of the software;
Customer support, user training, and access to expert guidance;
Product development roadmap;
User satisfaction ratings and testimonials;
Expertise in all areas of talent acquisition.
How do I plan a successful virtual career fair?
Once you decide on a platform, you can start organizing your first virtual career fair. Brazen customers work with a dedicated account manager who can supply a proven virtual career fair strategy and industry best practices, along with a self-service platform to get things rolling. You’ll need to decide when you will host your event or how frequently you plan on hosting virtual job fairs or online hiring events. For example, some employers will host virtual events on a predetermined and consistent basis to give candidates the opportunity to pop in for a conversation with a recruiter or hiring manager. This openness to connect can go a long way to creating an amazing candidate experience.
Also, it is important to spend time designing your online job fair. Increasingly, brands are finding success with immersive brand experiences that use engaging videos, intentional brand messaging, and thoughtful conversations to connect with candidates. Each aspect of your virtual job fair should be intentional and selected with your candidate personas in mind.
Make sure you go beyond just using your logo. You’ll want to add content to your event or your booth like employee testimonial videos, reviews from Glassdoor, and links to your social media sites to showcase your employer brand.
Of course, online job fairs are just one arm of your broader recruiting strategy. As you plan your virtual hiring event, make sure it ties to that larger strategy and look for ways to use your other tactics to continue building relationships with candidates once the career fair has ended. Much of that relies on using these best practices before, during and after the online job fair for maximum return. In a nutshell, stick to these best practices:
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Use a personal touch to make a good first impression
Script your screening questions
Upload your employer brand content like videos and articles
Be your (authentic) self
Use a mobile-friendly platform with no app download required
Tell candidates about the next steps
Marketing Your Event
How do I attract more candidates to my virtual job fair?
Promoting your virtual career fair is the next logical and necessary step. After all, nobody will participate in your event if they never find out about it. There are a plethora of marketing channels you can use to promote your events but the channels you choose depend on the audience you are targeting. For example, if you are targeting software developers, it may make sense to promote your online job fair on Reddit. However, if you are targeting nurses, you might promote your virtual job fair through a nursing association newsletter.
Another great way to promote your virtual hiring events is by leveraging your current database and using email to spread the word. Sending an email to past applicants who were not hired with an invitation to a virtual hiring event is a great way to stand out in a crowded email inbox by giving candidates an option other than “apply now.”
And let’s not forget about the basics of recruitment marketing: you should also be using social media, text recruiting, and programmatic advertising to promote your events. Lastly, make sure the details of your upcoming virtual job fair are on your career site. As job seekers peruse your site, they are more likely to stay engaged with your employer brand if you give them the option to chat with you at a virtual career fair.
In addition to the channels you use to promote your hiring events, you will also want to consider the format of the messages you send out. Keep the message short and to the point. Include details about the date and time as well as information about how to sign up.
And when it comes to your message, you don’t just want to assume candidates will show up to your event once they’ve registered. Make sure you send reminder emails to registrants with the same details mentioned above to help increase the chances that candidates will show up on the day of the virtual job fair.
Attending a Virtual Career Fair
What to do while in a virtual job fair:
Okay, so you built an amazing virtual event and invited a great group of job seekers to attend. Now what? It’s time to attend the event and have virtual chats (text or video) with job seekers. To help you feel comfortable during a online job fair, we put together a list of best practices:
Staffing: The first thing you’ll want to consider is how many recruiters you will need to staff your booth. Our rule of thumb is that for every 10 candidates you expect to show up to your booth, you should have one recruiter. So if there are 30 candidates signed up for your event, and your event is one hour, you’ll likely want three members of your team at the event, ready to chat.
Consider your surroundings: Since most online job fair platforms now offer video, you will want to make sure you are situated in a place that is professional. Turn on your camera before the event starts and look behind you to see what the candidate will see. I love my wine rack as much as the next person but it probably isn’t appropriate to have in the background during a serious video conversation with a candidate.
Plan your questions and responses ahead of time: Since many virtual chats are timed, you’ll want to have your list of questions typed out ahead of time so you can easily paste them into the chat window when your conversations begin. You’ll also want to have a typed out list of responses to common questions candidates ask you so you can respond quickly as well as accurately. This will also help you stay consistent.
Use all the platform features to assess a candidate: While the conversation you have with the candidate is going to tell you a lot about the candidate’s fit, make sure you are also reviewing their resume, responses to registration questions as well as their responses to any pre-screening questions. This should give you a 360 view of the candidate and help you make a more informed decision.
Use candidate rating features: After your chat ends with the candidate, you’ll want to make a determination about what’s next for the candidate. Are they ready to move to an interview or should you pipeline them for later? Using rating tools like those found in the Brazen platform will help you stay organized and ensure the best candidates get your immediate attention with built in follow up features.
Follow up: After you’ve rated a candidate, leverage the follow up features that are commonplace in online job fair platforms like email, forwarding a resume to a hiring manager, or scheduling an interview with a candidate.
How can video make our virtual career fair seem more human?
As mentioned before, most virtual career fair platforms have a mix of text-based chats and audio and video chats. You’ll want to be prepared for all three. But let’s spend a moment talking about the power of video.
In-person career fairs have the obvious benefit of genuine face-to-face conversations, but that doesn’t mean online job fairs lack human connection, when handled correctly. Video is the best way to humanize the process. Featuring videos of hiring managers at your virtual career fairs is the way to go, especially since job seekers want to see those videos ten times more often than they want to see a recruiter on video.
Leaning heavily on video in online job fairs gives candidates the next best thing to an in-person conversation, and all types of video can elevate your employer brand. For example, here are 6 ways you can use video in your online job fairs:
Promotional videos that are used to market your online job fairs
Live videos during your event with hiring managers who can talk specifically about jobs, culture, and the team
On-demand employee story videos that can be embedded right in your events
Recruiter videos where recruiters can explain specifics of the recruiting process
One-to-one video chats where a recruiter and a candidate chat live
Post event videos thanking participants for coming and information on next steps
Using video to enhance the candidate experience and to create a strong employer brand can, on its own, help attract more candidates to your future online job fairs and your other recruiting channels.
How a Virtual Career Fair Improves Candidate's Experience
While some organizations may feel as though a virtual career fair may lack that face-to-face interaction with attendees, several benefits quickly outweigh this traditional school of thought. Below, we highlight a few areas where a virtual career fair can really improve and enhance a candidate’s experience when compared to a physical event:
Saves Time and Money: A virtual career fair not only saves substantial costs for vendors, but it saves both time and money for attendees too. These potential candidates can now eliminate the need to spend money on travel, take time off work, or reschedule any commitments to be at an in-person event.
More Convenient: Unlike traditional career fairs, visitors can access the event 24/7, allowing participants to browse booths, view job boards, and apply for positions when it suits them - all from the comfort of their own home.
Real-Time Engagement: Unlike an online application form, which an employer might not respond to, virtual career fairs offer job seekers immediate gratification in the form of nearly instant communication with a recruiter or hiring manager. This immediate connection will also enable candidates to ask important questions before choosing to apply for a job, which is a huge perk.
How a Virtual Career Fair Can Help You Find the Right Employee
Along with great company exposure and the opportunity to network, virtual career fairs can also help organizations tap into a much wider talent pool. Because of its virtual nature, an online career fair no longer limits its candidates to those who can actually attend a physical event. Here’s how a virtual career fair can help employees attract their next round of top candidates:
Opens Up The Talent Pool: Job seekers can register and access the event online from any mobile, tablet, or desktop device. When compared to a traditional event, eliminating travel and time constraints will encourage higher participation of global talent regardless of where they are in the world.
Offers a More Streamlined Approach: Many virtual job fairs provide organizations and recruiters the platform and technology to receive a wide range of applicant resumes throughout the duration of the virtual fair. Things like smart profile search functions enable exhibitors to filter through hundreds of candidates based on their criteria to find the best skilled and experienced talent in a matter of minutes.
Creates a Connection: The enhanced candidate experience that comes with a virtual career fair creates a more positive and authentic connection between organizations and job-seekers. And it’s this authentic connection that can help lead to better professional fits, and in turn, more successful hires.
The Importance of Employer Branding
Just like an in-person hiring event, employers participating in virtual career fairs need to make the most out of their virtual branding. Understandably, adjusting their branding from a physical to a virtual space can take some time for organizations to get their head around. But, if done correctly, it can really set your company apart from competitors. Below are a few ways in which your organization can maximize virtual branding to help attract potential talent:
Embrace Virtual Ways of Branding: To help ensure a realistic event experience, virtual career events offer a variety of customizable features to help organizations really showcase their brand. These features include the likes of creating virtual exhibition booths and offering a host of branded and downloadable content. Remember, every branding opportunity can enhance your company’s overall appeal and attract the right kind of talent.
Highlight Work Culture: Instead of handing out paper brochures or sticking up laminated posters, a virtual career fair provides exhibitors the platform and opportunity to really demonstrate and sell their company brand and culture with the likes of professional videos, interactive brochures, and photo galleries. Hosting informational events that spotlight your culture are effective, too, such as Employee Resource Group events and those that focus on the employee experience.
Boost Candidate Engagement: At physical events, strong candidates can be put off by long queues and overcrowded kiosks—and then there goes your engagement. Organizations can increase their engagement at virtual career fairs by hosting live webinars, Q&As, guest speakers, and more to help their brand stand out from competitors.
How Virtual Career Fairs Improve Time To Hire
As many of us know, recruiting suitable candidates can really eat into HR’s time and budget. Sending out job specs, performing reference checks, finding suitable matches, and setting up multiple interviews can take weeks and sometimes months. Fortunately, a virtual job fair can help employers reduce slow and tedious recruitment practices in the following ways:
Helps Attract the Right People: While a detailed and well-written job spec should attract the correct candidates, it often doesn't. With the tools and technology that a virtual career fair provides, organizations can use various methods to screen candidates. Live chat screenings, quick Q&As, and even virtual interviews will help companies find talent fast.
Access to More Suitable Candidates: As mentioned above, virtual career fairs promote a higher participation rate. With a greater worldwide talent pool to choose from, paired with smart resume technology, organizations are able to find the right candidates in a much shorter time frame.
Speeds Up the Hiring Process: Virtual career fairs can condense your hiring process into as little as a week or two. Many employers are using this strategy to screen and interview candidates during a single virtual recruiting event and extend an offer as quickly as possible—on the spot or within a day or two.
Create a Strong Candidate Pipeline: If recruiters come across candidates who are a great fit for the organization but not necessarily the current open position, a virtual career fair helps create a database of strong candidates that you can dip into when other positions become available.
Virtual Career Fair Features
What virtual career fair features does your organization need?
Online job fairs should provide recruiting teams with an efficient way to quickly screen and interview, connect with qualified candidates, and hire top talent all while saving recruiter’s time on tedious tasks. When evaluating virtual career fair vendors, it’s important to note which features are most important to your organization. And note that while some “free” tools advertise the fact that you can host online job fairs on their platform, beware of the hidden fees associated with added time required to set up and create events, manage the event, and manually follow up with top talent. Tools built specifically and exclusively for online job fairs will more likely save you time and money in the long run. Here are a few of the most important virtual career fair features you should look for when evaluating a job fair platform:
Live chat: Look for a platform that offers live chat features with text, audio and video options. This allows job seekers to ask questions and learn more about job opportunities directly from employers in real-time. Timed chats and multi-chat functionality allow recruiters to save significant time.
Video interviewing: In the previous section of this guide, we went over the many benefits of having video functionality in your virtual career fair. It’s important to note that not all event platforms have native video features. Make sure to ask if third-party integrations are required when selecting a vendor.
Video broadcasting: Video broadcasting functionality lets hiring teams and recruiters engage with all event attendees at once in a live presentation format. This feature can be used to deliver important information about the organization’s mission and company benefits to many candidates, saving valuable time in one-on-one conversations. Some career fair platforms will include a live discussion feed and the ability to have multiple presenters on the broadcast. Also look for platforms that give you the ability to record your live presentations so you can use the content to reshare with event attendees.
Interview scheduling: An interview scheduling feature allows you to invite top candidates to chat at a specific time during the event. This ensures recruiting teams will get an opportunity to connect with the most qualified candidates, while giving them a chance to prepare for the screen or interview by getting familiar with the candidates’ resumes and profiles beforehand.
Content management system: Depending on the platform you use, you’ll be able to fully customize the event experience to match your organization’s brand. Features such as welcome videos and downloadable content help attendees learn more about open positions, job requirements and company values.
Customized booths: A major differentiator between free video conferencing tools and a virtual career fair platform is the capability to have an event lobby for attendees to explore. The lobby features customized booths that organize the event and ensures candidates are speaking to the right recruiters or hiring managers.
Follow-up features: When the career fair is over, you’ll want to reconnect with top candidates to move them further down the hiring process. Email templates and calendar integrations are just a few features that can help make next steps easier. Some platforms allow you to pass on resumes and chat transcripts directly to hiring managers.
Analytics and reporting: It’s important to evaluate event performance. Your virtual career fair platform should provide analytics on attendance rates, chat data, sign-ups and more.
Candidate screening tools: Features such as custom registration forms with knock-out questions can eliminate wasted recruiter time spent on chatting with unqualified candidates.
Customer support: When hosting virtual career fairs, it’s vital to have great support from your event platform team, including your account manager and customer success representatives who can guide you through best practices and ways to ensure your online job fairs are successful. Check to see if live support will be available during your scheduled events via online chat or phone.
Additional virtual career fair features you’ll want to consider include candidate rating, saved chat history, booth filtering, SSO log-in, user-friendly interfaces and mobile responsiveness.
Measuring the Success of Your Virtual Career Fairs
How do we evaluate the results of our virtual career fairs?
Online job fairs typically help employers highlight and enhance their employer brand, attract more candidates, have more conversations, and improve conversion rates. One of the best ways to track the benefits and results of a virtual career fair is by comparing your conversion rates on your career site or job req landing pages both before you start using online job fairs and afterwards. By giving candidates more options to connect with your team other than just the “Apply Now” candidates are more likely to connect with your team. This will naturally result in higher conversion rates and more high-value conversations with candidates.
Furthermore, online job fair participants tend to convert into hires at a higher rate than traditional applicants. This means you should be tracking the percent of candidates that move forward in the process after chatting with your team online.
There are also micro-conversions you should be tracking to make sure your events are always getting better. For example, you should be tracking open and click rates for online job fair email invitations, and set attendance goals that you can compare to the actual participation numbers. If your attendance rates are under 40%, you may want to look at increasing the frequency of your reminder emails or change the message to ensure more candidates attend.
Measuring your virtual career fair success will ensure you are getting the greatest return on your investment while providing a fantastic candidate experience for candidates.
This is one of the most important questions you have when it comes to hosting a virtual career fair: how much does an online career fair platform cost? And like any good answer when it comes to pricing: it depends. But what does it depend on, specifically?
Well, if your organization is a university, job board, workforce development agency, professional association, or some other group looking to host a multi-company career fair, the price is typically dependent on a few things: how many events you are planning on hosting, how many employers you expect at each event and how many sign ups (job seekers) you expect at each event. With this information in hand, you can usually get a good estimate from a virtual job fair software company.
Now, if you are a single employer looking to host a virtual hiring event, the price structure is different. Typically, you will purchase an annual subscription which will give you UNLIMITED access to host virtual hiring events. That’s great! And the price structure is heavily driven by the number of recruiters who will use the platform.
Beyond these basics, prices may be influenced by whether or not you want video, do you need help promoting your events, or do you want to add on features like a virtual concierge that can answer candidate FAQs.
In the end, the best course of action is to have an idea of what you are looking for when it comes to your virtual events and have a conversation with a trusted vendor to come up with a price that works for you.
Top Virtual Career Fair Platforms
Choosing the right partner is crucial when it comes to hosting your own virtual hiring events or online job fairs. And there are dozens of vendors on the market. Below, you’ll find a list of the top vendors. But beyond this list, I would encourage you to check out these reviews of the top 25 best online career fair platforms in the space.
What best practices will help us host a successful online career fair?
Much of the success of an online job fair relies on what happens in the weeks leading up to the event. Spending the time to plan in advance— from the details of the event itself and candidate personas to interview scripts and follow-up strategies— helps employers get the most out of virtual career fairs.
Another key component is making sure that candidates have a frictionless experience. Many candidates use mobile devices for job searching, so employers need to ensure that their online job fairs are mobile-friendly. This consideration applies to the event platform itself, but also means recruiters should keep chat messages brief for easier readability on mobile devices.
And lastly, online career fairs are just one of the many important conversations you should be having with candidates throughout the recruiting process. This applies to those candidates who are moving on in the process as much as it does to those who won’t. Make sure you treat all candidates with the respect they deserve. So if you find a candidate that is not qualified during an online event, make sure you reach out to tell him or her why. It’ll go a long way towards enhancing your employer brand.
So that’s virtual career fairs in a nutshell. While they may seem complicated and complex at first, but breaking your events down into manageable pieces will go a long way to ensuring you get the most out of this great way to recruit candidates.
And if you run into any snags along the way, you can always reach my direct line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Virtual Career Fairs Worth It?
Yes! At the height of the pandemic, many TA leaders looked forward to a “return to normal” and assumed that virtual recruiting would take a back burner to traditional in-person hiring events. That is simply not the case. Because of the many, many benefits of virtual career fairs—and because job seekers strongly prefer the convenience and experience—virtual career fairs are here to stay. Virtual recruiting events allow TA teams to tap into new talent pools, engage with more (and better) candidates, and fill positions faster—all while saving time and money.
What Success Metrics Can You Measure on Brazen’s Virtual Career Fair Platform?
Brazen’s virtual career fair platform collects a variety of data points that TA teams can use to analyze event performance, measure ROI, and track progress. Customers also have access to custom reporting so they can tailor the insights they need most and make more efficient, data-informed decisions.
Can I Customize My Workflows with Brazen?
Yes! Brazen’s virtual career fair platforms allows employers to customize nearly every aspect of their virtual events. From branding and color palettes to the number and types of event booths, TA teams can design virtual recruiting events that meet their needs and serve their target talent pool.
Can the Virtual Event Providers Furnish a “Live” Demo & Set Up a Virtual Career Fair?
Yes! The best virtual career fair vendors in the market today are able to show you exactly how a virtual recruiting event will look and feel before you make a commitment. Brazen even allows TA teams to walk through the process of setting up a virtual career fair so you can see firsthand how easy and fast it can be. To set up your demo today, request a demo below.
Want to see Brazen in action? Our team of product experts will walk you through our platform.