Why career fairs matter more than ever for students

Feb 01, 2021 - Cat DiStasio

Before you host another virtual career fair (or your first!) to connect with students and recent grads, take a moment and put yourself in their sneakers. When they jump into your virtual recruiting event, you want them to feel that their needs and preferences are not just acknowledged, but understood and served. To attract the most (and best) talent, anyone who hosts a virtual career fair for students should understand what students want to get out of a career fair so you can design your events to maximize the candidate experience.

With that in mind, let’s take a dive into the mind of a job-hunting student and answer the most important question of the day: what do students want from a virtual career fair?

Conversations with live recruiters

Job seekers are attracted to virtual career fairs because they offer a direct connection with a recruiter at a company that is actively hiring, and job seekers have a higher probability of getting into a conversation with a recruiter during a virtual recruiting event than through other application methods. Historically, job seekers have often complained about submitting online applications and never hearing a response. This is a pain point that virtual career fairs solve by design. Virtual career fairs virtually guarantee connections with potential employers who are actively seeking student talent.

Easy and convenient format

Student job seekers, like most of the rest of the human race, prefer to take the path of least resistance, especially if they’re already juggling classes, work, internships, and possibly even a family. Virtual career fairs hosted on easy to use platforms take the guesswork out of the process. When a platform is so well designed that job seekers need little or no training before joining an event, they’re more likely to be satisfied with the experience and stay engaged in the recruiting process. Location independence is also key for students with busy lives, so mobile accessibility is a must, so they can log in wherever they happen to be. Because they require much less preparation than in-person job fairs, virtual career fairs can also be more flexible in their timing, and employers and universities can even host events multiple times a day or spanning multiple days of the week, which creates more opportunities for busy students to attend.

Lots of potential reward for a low energy investment

Students who participate in a virtual career fair may not just be looking for their next “job.” These job seekers are particularly career-minded, and they want to get the most out of their efforts. Virtual career fairs can lead to internships and positions that could springboard an entire career, and students understand this opportunity. For student job seekers, virtual career fairs require much less time investment than in-person fairs, since there is no travel required and no waiting in line at busy booths. What’s more, virtual career fairs may open up opportunities that students can’t access any other way, particularly because big national brands may be more likely to participate in a virtual career fair, when they might not attend local in-person recruiting events. Having a chance to connect with a recruiter at a familiar national brand is an attractive element for student job seekers considering which recruiting events to invest their time in.

Graduating to the next level of recruiting

As student job seekers become even more savvy with technology, and specifically online communication, virtual career fairs will continue to garner their attention. Understanding what attracts students to virtual career fairs in concept will help you design specific virtual recruiting events that speak directly to those needs and preferences, and students will pay attention. Designing a candidate experience that highlights the priorities of your target talent is one of the best ways to boost your results, in terms of candidate satisfaction as well as quality of talent, quantity of participants, and number of hires.

Are you using virtual hiring events for campus recruiting? If you're interested in learning more, check out our webinar with Deloitte on campus recruiting in a virtual world.

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