The unprecedented pandemic Covid-19 leading to worldwide quarantine has created a visible shift in how businesses operate. As the world’s entering the “New Normal” and everything is slowly shifting to an online model now, recruiting is no exception. In case you are in need of a solution for online recruiting, a virtual career fair is the way to go.
Virtual recruiting, at heart, strikes a lot of similarity to traditional campus recruiting: Both aim at creating genuine connections with candidates and enriching your relationships with top talent. As simple as it sounds, it is a relatively new method compared to the traditions, so there are things no ultimate guide tells you. But we will, let’s dive in!
I. What Is Virtual Recruiting
First and foremost, we need to understand what virtual recruitment is.
Very simple, it’s when an employer utilizes the magic of the Internet to deploy career opportunities portal sites, recruitment software, social media platforms to source and hire candidates. There are many ways to start with virtual recruitment like programmatic advertising, video interviewing, employee referral programs, or even using virtual reality (yes, it exists), etc.
That said, one of the most effective methods for virtual recruiting is virtual career fairs, which we will be discussing right now.
II. So, What Is a Virtual Career Fair?
Virtual career fairs can be understood as a higher level of traditional career fairs as they break all the limitations companies run into when organizing or participating in an offline one. Essentially you are moving the venue from a physical location to a webinar service, which looks something like this:
Depending on the budget you’re spending on virtual career fairs, the interface can be either 2D or 3D. But in general, virtual career fairs imitate a real auditorium with halls, lobbies and virtual booths.
III. Benefits Of Virtual Career Fairs
There are countless reasons why a virtual career fair trumps its traditional counterpart. And here are some that might spark your interest as a recruiter.
1. Transcending geographical barriers
Since virtual career fairs are held online, they are practically accessible to everyone with a laptop and Internet connection. Virtual career fairs prove to be extra useful and fitting in times likes this, when social distancing is advised.
2. Saving time and money
This statement is out of the question. Cost-wise, you don’t have to spend any cash on renting venues, electrical equipment, traveling costs for your staff. You won’t have to hire as many people like event managers and event planners, and you definitely don’t have to buy any desserts if you are hosting the events on your own. Virtual career fairs also save you significant time by cutting away much of the planning and preparation.
3. Higher attendance (likely)
You’re not just saving time and money for your company but also for job seekers. Virtual career fairs significantly reduce the time and the travel cost for the visitors. With practically no excuses left not to go, you are likely to see a spike in the attendance traffic.
4. Exciting visitor experience
A job ad accompanied by a video gets about 36% .more applications. Videos are an incredible marketing tool and help you with your branding, and you can clearly see that many companies are trying to take part in this ongoing trend. It is the time to be more creative with your recruitment!
Virtual career fairs offer just the right tools for you to enhance the experience of the job seekers. Here you can have immersive webinars, PDF handouts, live recordings, etc. basically everything that stimulates the eyes.
5. Measurable results
Since everything happens online, you can utilize your virtual career fair software to monitor real-time data and identify which employers are most preferred, what job types receive the most attention, webinar views, who are unique and recurring visitors, etc.
And while we’re on the topic of data, working online also minimizes the tedious paperwork that slows you down, and creates a more organized database of potential candidates. Many virtual career fair software can provide features like resume search tools, and you as an exhibitor can search and shortlist talent almost instantly, remarkably shortening the recruitment funnel.
IV. Virtual Career Fairs Platforms
Founded in 2008, vFairs offers a platform to host a variety of online events such as trainings, trade shows, expos, job fairs, etc. vFairs’ strengths lie in their creative and sophisticated visuals, alongside with a plethora of functionalities. Customers reported that the platform looks like an actual exhibit hall, which is more than what they offer.
However, functionality is a double edged sword, since some customers also say that there was so much to explore that they have a fairly hard time navigating around the platform, and also some small, negligible issues with the chatroom features.
Founded in 2007, Brazen offers a wide range of tools to help recruiters connect with candidates, including sourcing automation, chatbots, online chat rooms, etc. Brazen pays extra attention to communication between employers and job seekers, enabling recruiters to chat with multiple candidates at once.
That said, Brazen is not for everyone, it typically works best with larger companies with high volume recruiting needs. So if your organization houses less than 1000 employees, you might want to explore the other options.
CareerEco was founded in 2009 and seems to be specialized in hosting virtual career fairs and online events for universities to connect graduates and alumni with recruiters. In addition to saving time and money with online events, they also emphasize on the environmental benefits of virtual career fairs.
This company was founded all the way back in 1967 and is a renowned name in the HR field, but only started hosting virtual career fairs a few years back. LHH’s career fairs are free for recruiters, and they take care of the set up and marketing! But yes, “free” comes with a price - their online events are only held a few times a year at predetermined dates (usually from 12pm to 4pm). Moreover, LHH’s virtual career fairs aren’t narrowed down by industry or position, so it’s not easy to seek talent in such a large and general pool.
V. Virtual Career Fairs Best Practices For Your Inspiration
1. Set up information desks
By this I mean virtual information desks. Just like any other fair or event on Earth, there has to be at least 1 info desk so visitors can ask around just in case they’re lost or have any concerns. This enables better navigation and a more well-rounded experience for the visitor.
On February 12th, 2020, Aviation Job Board hosted an online Aviation & Aerospace Job Fair, and this is one of the many solutions they deployed. Along with many other strategies, they managed to attract 3400+ job seekers to the fair, with the total booth visits exceeding 7900.
2. Customize branded booths
It goes without saying career fairs are the place to push your branding. It’s a densely packed ocean of potential candidates walking around, exploring choices like a customer at a buffet. To attract them in the first place, you have to be as visually compelling as possible.
Make the most of your allotted digital space and be creative with your booths. Not only that, you can set up virtual representatives standing there, ready to present or answer any questions a bypasser can have.
Unilever, considered to be one of the best companies to work for in Turkey by Bloomberg Businessweek Turkey and Realtor Consulting 2018, decided to set up customized booths for all departments. This is specifically aimed at streamlining branding and communications.
3. Provide downloadable materials
You have surely noticed an underlying trend here, that I’m stating the obvious that should be included in normal career fairs. But that’s the point, virtual career fairs should be as close to traditional career fairs as possible; just the mere “online” aspect already makes it 10 times better.
So provide virtual handouts, please. They leave a long lasting impression on your company, and also remind whoever has them of your presence. Also, digital handouts are good for the environment, no paper used! If you are a company that is trying to go green, you should definitely be in on this.
The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) took this one step further. They provided E-Resources consisting of a library of recorded webinars, Jobsbank access and advice from experts, making the job seekers’ experience more engaging than ever. They generated almost 3000 registrations, more than 2100 visits and 841 tab clicks.
4. Provide chat and technical support
Virtual career fairs, no matter how much they resemble traditional fairs, are a new environment for some people. That entails many unexpected technical problems, or just confusion. That is inevitable, so always have chat and technical support ready for first time users, they will appreciate it.
5. Run real-time job boards
This is solely for the browsing of job seekers. Think of it as street signs, informing fair visitors of where to go, what industry is there in this area, what job types or companies they can find here, etc.
Not only will real-time job-board assist with job seekers’ navigation, it will also help to increase your brand visibility. Be prepared for a rise in traffic!
6. Set up real-time reminders
You can do this by simply putting a small virtual timer at the bottom of the screen that signals how much time is left in this session. Sticking to the predetermined agenda will do you a world of good. First of all, you don’t want to waste people’s time by speaking more than you should. Job seekers have things to do and places to be, they can’t stick around for too long.
Secondly, just like a traditional career fair, you do not want to keep your prospects waiting in line too long due to your uneven focus on certain candidates. Having a timer ensures you can allocate equal attention to all prospective candidates coming to your booth and avoid losing on potential candidates who might be tired of waiting in a long line.
Thirdly, having a countdown clock lets visitors plan ahead their track in the virtual career fair. Remember, customer experience matters, so you should always keep their best interest at heart!
7. Be interactive
If there’s any downside to virtual career fairs compared to traditional ones, it’s the ease of communication. Nothing beats a good ol’ face to face talk. Local, offline sessions produce much more clarity in sound quality, and better engagement . When in a webinar, opinions are harder to be heard and questions are not as easy to answer.
So what you can do is try to be as interactive as possible, mimic the quality of real-life conversations. Organize real-time Q&A sessions Provide one-one-one chats with booth representatives/chatbots Interview on the spot via video chat: This is as far as you can go, giving potential applicants interviews right there and then.
Faith Technologies succeeded in integrating tip 4, 5, 6, 7 by enabling a chat forum, easing group conversation that also acts as a quick notice board for all activities.
8. Keep the fairs running for a long time
There are many types of virtual career fairs, but there’s one specifically that seems to be the most fitting and offer the most long-term benefits: Evergreen virtual career fairs - you keep some parts running for as long as you like, months or even years, which include booths and preprogrammed representatives and chatbots that can answer frequently asked questions, while materials like media and job boards are available for longer and generate more impression.
Meanwhile, the good stuff - live chat and webinars can be scheduled to take place on specific dates. Do remember to promote these events so people are aware and will join your online events.
9. Monitor performance metrics
You have the power of softwares, so use it to track clicks, downloads, uploads, interactions. Practical metrics help you analyze your ROI better.
You can also take this one step further by supervising the registration process. By providing a quick application form like Unilever did below, you can passively gather attendees’ contact for better sourcing.
Every job seeker is a potential talent, so make sure to keep in touch with them after the fair. By doing so, you give them a sense of personal interest and create a long lasting impression. Even if they don’t apply right away, they might come back to you in the future. That’s the beauty of candidate relationship management.
Virtual career fairs are an incredible way to achieve your recruiting goals economically and abruptly even during this global pandemic. Regardless of the current situation, we have firm reasons to believe virtual career fairs will be a vital part of the future for recruiting.