Definitive Guide to Virtual Career Fairs

Use the quick links below to jump to a specific section or grab a cup of coffee and read all the way through. In any case, please let us know if you have questions about virtual career fairs before, during, or after you read through. You can email Joe Matar (joe.matar@brazen.com) if you have questions. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

  1. The Basics
  2. Planning
  3. Marketing
  4. Attending a virtual career fair
  5. Video + Virtual Career Fairs
  6. Measuring the success
  7. Price
  8. Top virtual career fair platforms
  9. Bonus: taking your VCFs to the next level


The Basics


What is a virtual career fair?

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. Virtual career fairs help employers, universities, and member organizations connect with top talent regardless of their locations.


Why do I need online career fairs?

At the time of this writing, in-person events are 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.

Virtual career 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 career 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, virtual career 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 recruiting process.
  • 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 virtual career 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?

Virtual career fairs and online 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. Virtual career 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.

Summary of use cases:

1. Experienced hires

2. Campus recruiting

3. Veteran / military hiring

4. Internal mobility

5. Diversity and inclusion

6. Hard-to-fill roles like technical roles, nurses, etc.

Planning Your Online Career Fair

How do I plan a successful virtual career fairs?

The first step to hosting a successful virtual career fair is to partner with the right vendor. Different vendors in the virtual career fair space offer different features and tools, from the most basic online chats to robust platforms with embedded video and candidate rating systems. Review our comparison of the top virtual career fair platforms to help inform your decision.

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 virtual career 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, virtual career 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 virtual career fair for maximum return. In a nutshell, stick to these best practices:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
  2. Use a personal touch to make a good first impression
  3. Script your screening questions
  4. Upload your employer brand content like videos and articles
  5. Be your (authentic) self
  6. Think about the mobile users
  7. Tell candidates about the next steps

Marketing Your Event

How do I attract more candidates to my virtual career fair?

Promoting your online 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 a virtual career 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 virtual career fair, we put together a list of best practices:

  1. 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.
  2. Consider your surroundings: Since most virtual career 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.
  3. Plan your questions and responses ahead of time: Since manay 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Follow up: After you’ve rated a candidate, leverage the follow up features that are commonplace in virtual career 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 + Online Career Fairs

How can video make our virtual career fair seem more human?

As mentioned before, most online 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 a virtual career fair lacks 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 virtual career 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 virtual career fairs:

  1. Promotional videos that are used to market your virtual career fairs
  2. Live videos during your event with hiring managers who can talk specifically about jobs, culture, and the team
  3. On-demand employee story videos that can be embedded right in your events
  4. Recruiter videos where recruiters can explain specifics of the recruiting process
  5. One-to-one video chats where a recruiter and a candidate chat live
  6. 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 virtual career fairs and your other recruiting channels.

Measuring the Success of Your Virtual Career Fair

How do I demonstrate the results of our virtual career fairs?

Virtual career 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 / results of a virtual career fair is by comparing your conversion rates on your career site or job req landing pages both before you start using virtual career 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, virtual career 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 virtual career 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 fairs 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 a virtual 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 virtual career 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 10 best virtual career fair platforms in the space.

  1. Brazen Virtual Career Fair
  2. CareerEco
  3. Lee Hecht Harrison
  4. vFairs
  5. 6Connex
  6. PremierVirtual
  7. Gr8 People
  8. XOR [untested]
  9. Paradox [untested]
  10. Eightfold.ai [untested]
  11. TextRecruit [untested]
  12. Zoom
  13. Easy Virtual Career Fairs

BONUS: Taking your VCFs to the next level

What best practices will help us host a successful virtual career fair?

Much of the success of a virtual career 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 virtual career 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, virtual 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.

Conclusion

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 joe.matar@brazen.com