How Do Job Fairs Work?

Feb 10, 2021 - Tiffany Monhollon

Job fairs are one of the cornerstones of an employer’s recruitment strategy. In a nutshell, a job fair (also known as a career fair) is a type of recruitment event in which job seekers and employers come together with the purpose of establishing professional connections and discussing potential employment opportunities. Job fairs can be hosted by universities, government and workforce development organizations, or by individual employers in order to recruit new talent. But how do job fairs work, exactly? And what about virtual job fairs? We’ll break it all down for you.

What are the common types of job fairs?

Job fairs are usually held by a large organization that brings multiple employers together in one place. One of the best-known types of job fair is the college job fair, which is usually organized by the campus career center. College career fairs offer students not only opportunities to get a job, but also to learn about their field and build relationships. In fact, many employers have a dedicated team of campus recruiters to source candidates for internship and entry-level programs.

Government and workforce development organizations often hold job fairs, too. Workforce development organizations collaborate with a state-run or municipal unemployment office to provide education and resources that help job seekers find gainful employment. Job fairs run through government and workforce development organizations are especially important for stimulating the local economy.

Furthermore, some industry organizations host job fairs for their members. These job fairs can be more focused than a college career fair or a workforce development organization job fair, since the job seekers and employers would be in the same field. Job fairs are an excellent benefit to offer members, and can help with membership retention, too.

Although most job fairs include multiple employers, this isn’t always the case. Many large companies also host their own job fairs as a part of their recruitment strategy. Employer-specific job fairs are a good choice when there’s a surge in hiring demand, especially across many departments. And virtual job fair platforms are making this type of single-employer job fair more prominent (and highly successful, even for small employers) as a low cost recruiting tool.

What is a job fair like?

Job fairs can be large or small, in person or virtual, broad or industry-specific. But no matter the type, the most striking similarity is the structure. Job fairs typically set up booths for multiple companies or recruiters in one centralized place, which could be a physical venue or a virtual event platform. Employers stay at their booth for the duration of the event, while job seekers go from booth to booth to speak with recruiters. Single employer events also often set up booths, some for different departments or roles, and others based on hiring regions, for example.

Throughout an event, job seekers have the opportunity to ask recruiters about open positions, company culture, and the application process at these booths. At the same time, recruiters can speak with prospective candidates to learn more about their skills and experience, and then determine if they’d like to move the candidate further along in the recruitment pipeline. Some job fairs may offer on-the-spot interviews, while others are designed more for the initial awareness stage of the recruitment funnel.

How do virtual job fairs work?

Due to the pandemic, most job fairs in 2020 transitioned to a virtual environment. Virtual job fairs use an online platform to connect employers with job candidates. While in-person job fairs are characterized by face-to-face communication, virtual job fairs let recruiters and candidates connect via text chats, video, or audio calls. Since the event only requires an Internet connection, job seekers and recruiters can join from anywhere, without being tethered to a specific location. Some of the main benefits of this format include lower event costs and access to a wider pool of candidates. Virtual job fairs also offer more flexibility to candidates who may have work, school, or other obligations during traditional job fair times.

In a virtual job fair, each employer (or department) has their own booth that job seekers can visit. Candidates will enter the employer’s virtual booth and then connect with a recruiter for a conversation. For job seekers who are still waiting to connect with a recruiter, the employer’s booth will usually have recruitment materials to review, such as a list of current job openings, a pre-screening questionnaire, and employee testimonials.

Some virtual job fair platforms enable candidates to create a profile, upload their resume, and update other information that helps them easily connect or share with employers.

Virtual job fairs offer a lot of additional features that make it easier to follow up with candidates effectively. For example, in the Brazen platform, recruiters can take notes directly in the event platform after speaking with a candidate in order to remember their conversation. They can also denote if they’d like to follow up with the candidate about a specific position, or if they’d prefer to pass. Employers can collect contact information from prospective job candidates, as well. This enables a seamless experience for everyone involved.

Ready to participate in a job fair?

As far as recruitment events go, a job fair is one of the best ways to meet a lot of candidates at once and showcase your employer brand. A job fair is often a candidate’s introduction to your company, so you’ll want to make it a positive one. Explore our blog for more tips on how to make the most of a job fair, or contact Brazen for a demo of our virtual job fair platform.

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