Career fairs are one of the best ways for employers to connect with a lot of prospective candidates in a short amount of time. Since the onset of COVID-19, most job fairs have transitioned online. But as many employers and career centers are recognizing how cost-effective and efficient online hiring events are, the shift to virtual is a trend that shows no signs of slowing. In fact, all signs point to the rise of hybrid recruiting: the strategic combination of in-person and virtual events across the recruiting journey.
Employers who have never hosted or participated in a virtual career fair may feel daunted by this new twist to a cornerstone of their recruitment strategy. If you’re not sure how to prepare for a virtual career fair, we at Brazen are here to help! Start with these career fair best practices for employers.
Select the right platform
If you are hosting your own career fair, you’ll want to select a virtual event platform that will enable multiple modes of communication, including video, chat, and audio. This will offer the most flexibility for connecting with candidates, as well as provide that humanized touch that you would find at an in-person event. In addition, look for an event platform that will integrate with your ATS so that you can seamlessly manage communications with prospective candidates during and after the event.
We recommend choosing a provider that offers training and resources in advance, as well as live support the day of the event in case of any technical difficulties. If you are joining a career fair hosted by a university or another organization, ask for a demo of their chosen event platform.
Market your event
Whether you are participating in another organization’s virtual career fair or hosting your own, you will need to create a recruitment marketing strategy based on who you want to attend. For example, are you recruiting for an internship program, entry-level jobs, or more senior-level roles? Is the career fair focused on diversity and inclusion initiatives, campus recruiting, or on a specialized group?
Once you’ve narrowed down your target audience, send an event announcement to your own email list, including prospective candidates who signed up for career updates. You should also post about the event on your company’s career page and social media channels. Encourage current employees to spread the word about your event to their networks, too.
If you are looking to expand your reach beyond people already familiar with your company, consider posting about your event on relevant job boards, or creating a LinkedIn ad with targeting based on industry and experience. If your event is specifically for interns and entry-level employees, reach out to university career centers and ask to be included on their event list or in their newsletter. In any follow-up surveys you send after the event, make sure you include a question asking how attendees heard about it!
Create the right content for attendees
While attendees at a virtual career fair will be most excited about connecting with a recruiter, there are other opportunities for them to learn more about your company. More specifically, you can post recruitment marketing materials in the virtual career platform to give job seekers a more holistic picture of who you are and what you do. Some examples of recruitment content could include employee testimonials, current job openings, and videos about your company’s culture and mission. Offer links and downloadables so job seekers can review them after the event, too!
Staff your virtual career fair with the right team
In-person career fairs are notorious for long lines because job seekers are waiting to talk with a recruiter. But even virtual career fairs can have long wait times if your event is inadequately staffed. For a virtual career fair, we recommend a ratio of one recruiter for every ten registered job seekers in order to avoid this problem. If you are recruiting for a lot of roles across departments, you may decide to have recruiters who specialize in sourcing talent for different job functions across the company.
Prepare questions for candidates
If your career event involves interviewing or a pre-screening questionnaire, you should have a list of questions that you will ask every candidate. This is especially important in order to reduce bias. You will probably want to include a mix of questions about their previous job experience, why they are interested in your company, and even a few behavioral interview questions. Make sure you also leave time for job seekers to ask questions, too!
So you’ve attended the virtual career fair and connected with a bunch of prospective candidates -- now what? Use recruiters’ notes from the event, along with the contact information that candidates provided, in order to send a targeted follow-up. For example, did some job seekers really shine through and should make it to the next stage of the recruitment funnel? Are you on the fence about others, but a complete application would give you the information you need to make a decision about their candidacy? Tell job seekers during the event when they can expect to hear from you, and send your follow-up within that time frame. Remember, an effective follow-up can make or break the candidate experience.
Looking for more ideas on how to prepare for a virtual career fair? Check out these posts:
- How to Host a Virtual Career Fair
- 5 questions to put on your career fair questionnaire for campus recruiting
- 5 tips for staying engaged with candidates in a remote world