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. While in person hiring events have served recruiting teams well for years, there are plenty of reasons to move your recruiting online with online job fairs. In this guide we will address everything there is to know about online job fairs from why you should be making them a crucial part of your recruiting strategy (especially in light of stay-at-home orders), how to market your events, how to plan for your events, and why video can take your events to the next level. And, of course, we’ll address the one question everyone is wondering about: how much do online job fairs cost?
The pandemic has changed our view of the workplace and how we recruit talent. Online job fairs are a natural step 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.
In this Definitive Virtual Career Fair Guide we will cover:
Attending an online career fair
Video and Online Job Fairs
Measuring the success
Top virtual hiring event platforms
Bonus: taking your online job fairs to the next level
Essentially, a virtual career fair 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. Online job fairs 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, in-person events were nearly impossible
with stay-at-home orders but beyond these restrictions, in-person career
fairs pose many challenges. For starters, they are expensive and
time-consuming. Taking your career fairs into the virtual realm
alleviates these burdens.
Online job 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.
Plus, it doesn’t require your recruiters or hiring managers to miss days
of work standing at a booth which is common during an in-person fair.
Additionally, virtual job 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 support your diversity and inclusion efforts or
military and veteran hiring, for example.
Summary of virtual career fair benefits:
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.
Efficient: Since you can have multiple
conversations at once, online job fairs allow you to find top talent
more quickly than in-person career fairs.
Control: You control the set up, who attends,
and who you want to talk to resulting in a more efficient and effective
Wider Reach: Reach candidates from all over the world. No longer are you limited by your physical location.
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.
It's About Time: 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-company looking to hire, 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. They 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.
Once you decide on a platform, 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
Think about the mobile users
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 email. Sending an email to past applicants that were not hired with a message that invites them 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: you should also be using social media, text recruiting, and programmatic advertising to promote your events. And lastly, make sure the details of your upcoming virtual job fair is on your career site. As job seekers pursue your site, they are likely to stay engaged with your employer brand if you give them the option to come chat with you in an online job fair.
In addition to the channels that you promote your hiring event, you will also want to consider the message that you are sending 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 are sending 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 a head 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 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.
Use these in-event best practices to not only find that next great hire but have fun doing it!
Video And Virtual Career Fairs
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 Can A Virtual Career Fair Improve A 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.
They’re 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 Feedback: Virtual career fair platforms typically provide exhibitors with their own one-on-one chat features. This allows job-seekers to reach out to organizations and receive real-time feedback instantly. This immediate connection will also enable candidates to ask important questions before choosing to apply for a job.
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, a career fair no longer limits its candidates to those who can actually attend the 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 a physical event, companies participating in virtual career fairs also 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 Company 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.
Boosts Candidate Engagement: At physical events, strong candidates can be put off by long queues and overcrowded kiosks - there goes your engagement. Organizations can up 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.
Create a Strong Candidate Pipeline: If organizations come across candidates that are a great fit but don’t necessarily have an immediate opening for them, a virtual career fair allows you to create a database of strong candidates that you can dip into at a later stage.
Measuring the Success of Your Virtual Career Fairs
How do I demonstrate 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 an 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.
How Much Does a Virtual Career Fair Cost?
I’m guessing 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 you are a university, job board, workforce development agency, or some other group looking to host a multi-company career fair, then 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 company 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 that will be using 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 21 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, 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 email@example.com
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