According to NACE – the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more than 90% of employers have attended a virtual career fair this fall. As you can imagine, that is a steep increase from previous years, and as we all know, COVID was the catalyst.
Regardless of how we got here, there is no going back. Everyone who has attended a virtual career fair, either as an employer or job candidate, can agree that this format has many advantages. While challenges remain to replicate the actual ‘meet and greet’, or issues with internet access and potential technical problems, expectations are this technology will continue to improve and become a regular part of the hiring process.
So, what are the most often asked questions when it comes to hosting a virtual career fair? Let’s address the top 5.
1. What are the benefits of a virtual career fair? The most glaring advantage is the reduction in time and cost, thus increasing efficiency and productivity. In a virtual fair, you do not have to shop around for a venue that will accommodate your needs on the day and time you need it. There will be no costs for ‘drape and pipe’ otherwise known as your booth, and you can leave behind all of that printed material and brochures that can often be very expensive and a real hassle to transport.
Virtual career fairs allow you to attend even if you are not feeling well or if the weather decides to take a turn for the worse the day of your event.
Logistics aside, a virtual career fair will open the doors to anyone that has access to the internet and knows about your event. You are no longer limited to the talent pool in your immediate vicinity. If someone wants to move to Florida but lives in New Jersey, they can now attend your career fair, same as anyone locally, and that can be a real game-changer.
Also, the Premier Virtual platform allows for an unlimited number of recruiters in a booth, and the ‘chat that follows’ means you can carry on several conversations at the same time. Recruiters can view all of the resumes and receive all of the data from the event in real-time. This data is often the biggest advantage of virtual because of how easy it is to review and then access again electronically for follow-up.
As companies embrace this format, job seekers recognize innovative and flexible brands, making them more appealing. A savvy job-seeker that prefers to apply online instead of inline will appreciate those companies that are offering that option, creating a competitive advantage over those who don’t.
2. How does a Virtual Career Fair work?
Well, you might be surprised, but it closely mirrors an in-person event. The employers have logos in the lobby that job seekers can attend with a click of the mouse. Once you do, it takes them to the employer’s booth where they can research the company, view open positions, download materials, and see if there is any interest. If so, the candidate can enter into a chat with an available recruiter and even move into a video interview. In the Premier Virtual career fair platform, all chats are one-on-one to ensure privacy, and the video conferencing is built in. If there is a fit, candidates can submit their resumes, and recruiters can make an offer right on the spot. It’s easy to use and navigate, and participants can get a lot done quickly.
3. What are some of the disadvantages?
People will tend to keep a physical appointment more than a virtual one because virtual appointments can be very easy to ignore. To keep attendance rates high, it’s important to send reminders via email and text. Using a platform like Engage By Cell can be a very effective way to accomplish that. Of course, nothing can replicate the physical handshake or eye-to-eye interaction of an in-person event. Participants can become distracted, and recruiters might find it harder to get a good ‘read’ on a person or get that ‘warm and fuzzy; that’s often part of the decision process and before deciding someone is a good fit for the companies culture.
An option to address these shortcomings is quickly growing in popularity, called the ‘hybrid’ career fair that offers both in-person and virtual access. Anyone who prefers to attend in person can do that, and you still open up your talent pool by providing a virtual option.
4. How do I create and market a virtual career fair?
• Set-up & Training – Once you have the license to the software, Premier Virtual gives you access to your dashboard. In just 15 minutes, you can customize your event, and go live! It’s that simple, especially now with the built-in setup wizard that’s part of Version 2.0 of the platform. Not every platform offers this feature, so you want to make sure to ask about the setup process.
After set up, you want to make sure that everyone participating becomes familiar with the tool and resources. Premier Virtual assigns an account manager to each client. The account manager will schedule a training session and provide support throughout the process. This kind of training and support is crucial for a successful event. The platform should also have training videos easily accessible for all job applicants that will be attending the event. Nothing will kill your virtual career fair faster than a platform that is difficult to navigate or not user-friendly.
• Promote – As with any event, you want to promote it as much as possible. The virtual registration page makes it easy to share links and for attendees to register, and it should be included in all of your marketing efforts. It would be best if you went through the normal channels of social media, press releases, and asking every employer participating in the event to do the same. Use emails and text messaging when possible to increase engagement. A good idea is to invite the local media. Offer them a free booth at your event to promote any positions they might have. It might very well help garner media coverage of your event, and they will also benefit.
• Day of Event – Make sure that all recruiters are logged in before the event start. Usually, the most considerable amount of visits will happen at the beginning of the event. You will want to be prepared to handle as many questions or video meetings from job seekers as you can so that you don’t miss any opportunities to hire a star player that gets there early and wants to impress you the most!
5. What is the best virtual career fair platform?
The answer is easy; Premier Virtual has proven to be the best-in-class for many reasons, including some already mentioned in his article. Despite winning awards and the accolades from so many customers (their platform has powered over 1,500 career fairs, connecting nearly 20,000 employers to over 200,000 registered job seekers!), they continue to improve the platform. While there are lots of options out there, Premier Virtual is dedicated to career fairs which gives them a unique advantage over platforms that are not. The founder and CEO of Premier Virtual, Steve Edwards, is a former recruiter who put on in-person events for nearly 9 years. Steve took all of those experiences, both good and bad, and poured it into developing this platform to make it the best possible option for virtual career fairs.
In May of 2021, Premier Virtual is launching version 2.0 with enhanced analytics, real-time reporting, additional custom options, and so much more – all while keeping the platform easy to use to ensure the best possible user experience. Their team is 100% based in the U.S. and their customer service is second to none. Their reliability has also proven itself time and again. In fact, a recent statewide career fair in Virginia had 350 employers and over 15,000 job candidates on the platform at the same time with zero downtime! Ultimately your virtual event will only be as good as the platform it is on. If you have disruptions or downtime the consequences can mean you lose out on a great new hire, and that is a costly consequence.
If you haven’t done so already, make sure to schedule a free demo at www.PremierVirtual.com and see for yourself. The platform you choose will significantly impact the success of your event.