Hybrid Recruiting

Why You Don't Need to Choose Between Virtual & In-Person Career Fairs

Mar 25, 2021 - Cat DiStasio

With the rise in popularity of virtual career fairs in response to the pandemic, many employers put all in-person recruiting events on the back burner for the foreseeable future. In 2020, virtual recruiting replaced in-person recruiting in most industries, but the switch doesn’t mean organizations can’t or won’t revive some or all of their in-person strategies once it becomes safe to do so. At that point, TA leaders might feel tempted to ‘switch back’ from virtual to in-person recruiting, but the secret to success (and the future of recruiting) isn’t tied to choosing one strategy or the other. To attract and connect with top talent, employers don’t need to choose between virtual and in-person career fairs.

Successful recruiting in the post-pandemic era will rely on creativity and flexibility, primarily around the ability to respond quickly to candidate preferences and changing attitudes in the talent market at large. Hybrid recruiting offers the best of both worlds. Employers can leverage a combination of in-person and virtual career fairs to attract, connect with, and hire top talent.

Strengths of Virtual & In-Person Career Events

Virtual recruiting events allow employers to reach large numbers of job seekers, screen them quickly, and host many niche events with broad geographic reach — often with less lead time than in-person events. This makes virtual career fairs great for casting a wide net and helping employers build a talent pipeline they can source from for months or even years to come. But while virtual recruiting offers countless benefits, it works best as a complement to more selective in-person events.

Once it’s safe, employers of choice will resume hosting in-person career fairs when they can, but they’re likely to be more selective and strategic than in the pre-pandemic era. Going forward, more employers will host in-person events that are reserved for prequalified candidates or focused on the later stages of the recruiting process. Adopting a hybrid recruiting approach and using virtual tactics alongside in-person events helps employers control recruiting costs, as the expense of in-person events scales up quickly based on participant numbers, where virtual recruiting events are more cost effective. Virtual recruiting also helps employers use time more efficiently, by screening larger numbers of candidates than they can prequalify at an in-person event in the same amount of time.

Virtual & In-Person Recruiting Events Can Work Together

Hybrid recruiting helps employers reach talent through multiple channels, using the most appropriate strategy for their target candidate personas. In some instances, it may be easier to connect with entry-level candidates through in-person career fairs, while other entry-level talent pools (such as college students and recent grads) have quickly adopted virtual career fairs. Using both virtual and in-person recruiting as part of your broader talent acquisition strategy allows TA leaders to use creative and flexible approaches to crushing their recruiting goals.

As we look forward to the end of the global health crisis, employers will start mapping out hybrid recruiting strategies and the examples will be as numerous as the employers using them. Many employers will host virtual career fairs at the top of the recruiting funnel, focusing on informational events or using virtual events to screen candidates and build a talent community. It will become common for employers to follow up to virtual events with invitations to in-person career fairs or interviews where candidates meet with hiring managers, or subsequent events that blend in-person and virtual tools for a unique candidate experience.

Hybrid Recruiting Gives Employers More Control

There’s no reason to choose between virtual and in-person career fairs when you can use hybrid recruiting strategies to make the most of your talent acquisition budget, efforts, and time. Hybrid recruiting offers the ability to invest resources more wisely, host events on shorter time lines, and allocate staff efficiently, typically with better results than choosing between virtual and in-person events. Having both virtual and in-person events as part of a broader talent acquisition strategy gives employers the most flexibility, allowing recruiting teams to maximize the benefits of different recruiting tactics while improving efficiency and controlling costs.

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