A job fair, or career fair, is an event where job seekers and graduates meet recruiters and/or potential employers and look for career opportunities. Traditionally a job fair is organized in a physical setting where job seekers can visit booths set up by employers to ask questions, gather information, build networks, and even leave their job applications.
So, what about a virtual job fair?
For a virtual job fair, the principle and concept remain the same, but everything happens online. In this case, employers and recruiters set up virtual booths, and job seekers can interact with these virtual booths from the comfort of their homes.
Why Virtual Job Fairs Are The Trend?
You might have guessed it, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things related to how we work, including the hiring process.
Even before the pandemic, many organizations have turned to various digital hiring solutions like AI-powered interview tools, but the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of these tools, and remote jobs are increasingly becoming commonplace. Virtual job fairs are simply a part of these changes.
Not only do virtual job fairs provide people with safer ways to connect with potential employers, and vice versa, a virtual career fair is also cheaper to organize. Below, we will discuss some key differences between a virtual job fair and a traditional one, and the pros/cons of the two.
Virtual Job Fair VS Traditional Job Fair: Pros and Cons
A fully online virtual job fair will provide the following benefits for organizers, potential employers, and job seekers:
- Social distancing. At the time of this writing, the pandemic situation is improving for many countries all over the world. However, we can expect social/physical distancing rules to stay in the near future. A virtual job fair will provide a safer and more secure option for all attendees.
- Cost-saving. A virtual job fair is more affordable to host. And, it will also save recruiters and job seekers time and money.
- No geographic limitations. Attendees from other countries or who are currently outside the country can join the job fair. Thus, a virtual job fair has a wider, potentially unlimited reach.
- No space limitations. In a traditional in-person event, the number of attendees is limited to the size of the venue. However, a virtual job fair space is essentially unlimited so you can invite more guests and exhibitors.
- Digital hiring process. Potential employers wouldn’t need to worry about how to store and transport physical documents during and after the event. Everything is stored digitally, which will help streamline the whole hiring process. Exhibitors can also engage with past attendees easily by simply accessing the database without needing to sort through endless paper documents.
- Easier measurement. Event organizers can easily tap into data analytics to measure the overall success of the virtual job fair.
However, that’s not saying a virtual job fair is a 100% perfect replacement to an in-person job fair, and there are some key concerns to consider:
- Lack of in-person interaction. Probably the biggest disadvantage to hosting a virtual job fair is the lack of in-person interaction. Potential employers may not be able to get the whole picture of a job seeker. On the other hand, job seekers may feel like they haven’t made enough connections with potential employers.
- Lack of physical items/gifts. In a traditional job fair setting, it’s common for job seekers to take home promotional products, brochures, corporate gifts, and other items. This can translate into a perceived lack of value and immediacy, and event organizers must be more creative in this aspect.
- More difficult to organize. Technical-wise, hosting a virtual job fair is more challenging. An event organizer must invest in reliable video conferencing software, applicant tracking system, virtual career platform tool, and others. Also, team members must be trained to use all these different solutions properly.
How To Plan and Run a Virtual Job Fair
Step 1: Choose or Create a Virtual Job Fair Platform
You basically have two main options in running a virtual job fair: build your own platform from scratch, or use a third-party virtual job fair platform provided by various third-party services.
Basically, a virtual job fair platform should have the following functionalities:
- Custom landing page: a custom web page with your event’s brand. This should be a fully functional page where job seekers can immediately register for the event, sign up with their profile, and upload their resumes. It should also provide information such as an overview of the job fair, schedule, details of exhibitors, and other relevant details.
- Customizable virtual booths: the platform should provide exhibitors the ability to design their own custom booths and staff avatars (i.e. with uniforms). The booths will be the exhibitors’ hub to provide content such as videos, brochures, job boards, and should allow real-time chat functionalities.
- Secure communication: should allow real-time text-based, audio, and video chats so job seekers can easily reach out to potential employers.
- Mobile-friendliness: the platform should be mobile responsive and compatible with both iOS and Android devices. It should also allow easy navigation on mobile devices, so job seekers can easily find information and navigate the virtual space.
- Networking: a space for all job seekers to connect with each other, typically in the form of a chat room that allows open discussion.
- Resume search filters: for exhibitors, smart resume search features allow for quick shortlisting based on the recruiters’ criteria.
- Webinar: a dynamic webinar is now the norm for virtual job fairs, and ideally the platform should enable exhibitors to upload both on-demand and live webinars.
As you can see, creating such platforms from scratch can be very difficult and expensive, and probably the best bet is to choose from various third-party services, including Brazen or Paradox.
You’ll also need another solution to handle the administrative side of things like event registration, applicant tracking system, attendee management, and other event administration functions. This is where an all-in-one event management software can help you.
Nevertheless, choose the right solutions based on your event’s target audience, your needs, and your budget.
Step 2: Develop Your Concept
The next step is to develop a concept for your virtual job fair.
You’ll need to develop thorough planning for the event that includes:
- The type of job fair you’ll host: single-company? Multi-employer? Job fair for fresh graduates? Career exploration?
- Expected number of attendees
- The team members you’ll need to run the event
- Additional tools and software solutions you might need, like a resume parsing solution
- The content you’ll develop for the event
Based on the details you’ve gathered, you can develop an estimation for your budget.
Step 3: Setting Up The Event
The next step is to design your virtual job fair space. You’ll need to set up attractive and customizable virtual booths you’ll offer to the exhibitors.
The features of the booths will depend on the type of careers being showcased but keep in mind that different virtual job fair platforms will also offer different features for their booths.
Also, depending on the scope of your virtual job fair, you may also want to design additional spaces like a networking room, a meeting room for interviews, and set up additional features like video hosting, virtual tours, and dynamic webinars.
Step 4: Recruiting Event Staff
Based on the event plan, you should have a rough idea of how many employees and volunteers you’ll need to recruit. Depending on the type of virtual job fire you’re going to host, you might need different types of staff like chat room moderators, administrators, content creators, graphic designers, and more.
Step 5: Securing Exhibitors and Sponsors
The next step is to pitch your virtual job fair to potential employers, guest speakers, experts, and any other exhibitors you’d like to appear in the event. Communicate how the virtual job event can benefit themselves: the expected number of attendees, the audience profile, how the event will be managed and run, and so on.
If you are planning to get sponsors, this is also the time to secure them by offering your sponsorship packages.
It’s best to first develop your strategy, event plan, and schedule before reaching out to exhibitors and sponsors so that you can more effectively communicate the value of your event.
Step 6: Marketing The Virtual Job Fair
Voila! You are now ready to run your virtual job fair.
However, just because it’s ready, doesn’t mean your attendees will automatically come, and a proper marketing plan is still important.
Depending on the size and scope of your virtual job fair, you may also want to hire a specialist to take care of marketing.
Promote your event in the right channels depending on where your target audience is, and make sure it’s as easy as possible to register for your event. Again, Eventtia as an all-in-one virtual event management solution offers an intuitive online registration and ticketing function that you can use right away.
A virtual job fair can be a great way for organizations to reach a wider range of job seekers and can help companies of all sizes to promote their brands. On the other hand, it is also a great way for graduates and job seekers to find job opportunities at the convenience and safety of their own homes.
Above, we have shared the steps and actionable tips you can use to plan and run a successful virtual job fair event. While it’s certainly not an easy task and will require some hard work, the effort will be worth it in the end with the numerous benefits in bridging your job fairs online.