Companies commonly use physical career fairs to source, pre-screen and sometimes even hire potential candidates in one place within the window of a few days. They are useful for recruiters who are looking to hire top quality talent in a short period of time which has made them ragingly popular across the globe. However, some factors have shown to hinder their effectiveness.
Since a physical career fair is frequented by people living near its premises, attracting global talent becomes difficult. Budget and capacity constraints of conventional career fairs contribute to their low return on investment which oftentimes renders its value quite doubtful.
Companies can overcome most of these limitations by switching to virtual career fairs and most virtual event platforms are nothing short of revolutionary. They mimic a physical event in experience and exceed them in engagement. They allow you to create a branded virtual environment with a lobby showing avatars walking in and out of the hall and video greetings from company representatives. You can host an Exhibit Hall with multiple booths where visitors can access information, fill surveys or chat with reps to learn more about your company. Your executives can also deliver webinars and host live Q&A sessions to keep candidates tuned in.
Set your business goals
A virtual career fair will give you the metrics you desire if you know how to plan for it. Is it just an employer branding event or do you want a certain number of candidates for the jobs you have at hand? Do you want to conduct interviews during the virtual career fair? What is success metric? Decide on and write down your quantified objective (be it employer brand promotion or lead generation) and use it to inform every decision you make.
Choose a Platform
You can find two kinds of virtual career fair platforms in the market. The more budget friendly kind comprises of a simple webpage with chat windows where visitors can talk to recruiters at designated times. The other is more elaborate and mirrors a physical career fair in layout and experience. The former is cheaper but the latter is more suited to organizations who wish to build their brand through the fair, wow their audience and include more features to complement their robust platform.
Bonus tip: Pay attention to the technicalities
Ultimately, your platform should be in line with the business goals you’ve set. For example:
- If you’re planning to measure how many relevant CVs you can get for each open position, you need to ask if the platform has a job board integration.
- If you plan to conduct interviews and fast track the recruitment process during the event, you need to ask whether the event has a chat facility to allow you to do this.
- Can I share assignments/evaluations and have candidates submit them back?
- Do I have flexibility on what kind of information I want to capture from the candidates?
- Will I be able to search through these candidate parameters in real time during the event and reach out to them for a chat?
- Do I need to work on employer branding by giving say a webinar on my work culture, benefits and maybe even product lineup?
These features can make or break your virtual career fair so seek out detailed answers when you’re designing or selecting a platform.
Look for a platform that allows you to customize workflows. If you’re accepting resumes, then make sure candidate registration forms reflect the fields that ultimately influences your hiring decision e.g. location, job title, work experience, skills etc. You also might want to create an interview scheduling flow during the event or send CVs to HRMS system. If you have certain hiring workflows that you want to incorporate during the event, make sure you have set that up with the platform provider.
Once a budget and a checklist of requirements is in place, you can begin to interview technology providers to find the best fit. Some key factors that the discussion should cover:
Can the providers furnish a “live” demo?
A brochure or flyer won’t suffice here. With a physical venue, it is easy to assess the condition of the property, its accessibility for visitors, number of staff required etc. since everything is in plain sight. With a virtual venue, however, you will have to investigate a lot more to ensure a smooth and interactive recruiter-visitor experience. A live demo will enable you to gauge the capabilities of the platform and its feature set and will also allow you to experience the platform’s performance and usability. Pay attention to how responsive the platform is along with its ease-of-use. Don’t forget to see the back-end to get a gist of the level of ease it affords you if you choose to customize your fair.
Is there good customer support?
The idea of your first virtual career fair can be daunting because of all the automation involved that you have little expertise over. Try to partner with a provider that offers reliable customer support both before and during the fair so that any roadblocks that occur are resolved swiftly. You can test this out yourself by visiting the provider’s website and calling their customer service. If you are routed to voicemail and nobody attends to you for long, you know that this will create problems later when you undergo an actual crisis.
Will my data be secure?
Since you will be collecting personal data from visitors through sign-up forms, resumes, Q&A and surveys, you will be accountable for complying with state privacy laws. Therefore, ensure that the platform has appropriate security parameters to handle personal data collected during the fair.
If you plan on attracting attendees from across the globe, ensure that the platform has multi-lingual capacity.
Customize Your Virtual Booths
The great thing about virtual booths is that they leave a lot of room for you to get creative with the type of information you wish to present to attendees. They have ample space for branding, content (videos, brochures, forms) and interaction. Virtual booths can essentially be customized to the same and sometimes greater extent as traditional booths and allow much more flexibility in content format display. Here are a few items that you can incorporate in individual virtual booths:
- List of open vacancies per department
- Downloadable and shareable company benefits
- Company stock and PR information
- Corporate and introductory videos
- Photo gallery showcasing work life at the company
With virtual booths and desks, the options for information dissemination are endless. You should leverage this benefit by staffing your booths with well-informed recruiters especially when your event is live. Since people often look for enhanced convenience and responsiveness in virtual career fairs when compared to traditional ones, you will be able to extract maximum benefit out of the event if your team answers visitors’ queries comprehensively and instantaneously.
To make things easier, you can compile the most repeated queries and develop a sheet of FAQs with detailed responses by your company’s professionals. This bank can be used by recruiters to share standardized responses for common queries asked in booth chats. You can also share the whole sheet with attendees for even quicker communication.
Some virtual career fair platforms allow recruiters to run quick criteria-based searches on resumes collected at the event. This feature can be immensely helpful in reaching out to relevant candidates quickly and shortening the hiring cycle.
Promote the event through an omni-channel approach
As with a physical career fair, the real challenge lies within getting relevant candidates to attend. You can have the most appealing, functional and interactive event around but it won’t guarantee registrations unless many people know about it.
To make this happen, you must aggressively market your virtual career fair through social media networks, PR channels, email marketing and advertising with partner companies. Try to use integrated marketing campaigns to promote your career fair and make use of a diverse range of marketing tools to reach the widest audience.
Although you don’t need to dedicate a whole department to your event’s marketing, it will be wise to have someone responsible and accountable for spreading the word through effective mediums. Some sophisticated virtual event platforms perform event promotion as part of the package therefore remember to check with your provider if you can leverage their advertising services.
Where pre-event marketing is important for creating hype for the virtual career fair, you should be just as active in promoting the event once it’s in motion. Ensure that your event remains top-of-mind by sending out regular reminders to registrants via direct mail, social media or other communication channels. Once the event has been wrapped up, you can re-purpose your content by offering recorded webcasts, webinars and workshops to those who could not attend the live event. You can also leave the chat tool alive where visitors can leave questions long after the event has ended. This will keep generating leads and will keep your event evergreen.
Monitor performance metrics
Possibly the most crucial advantage that virtual career fairs have over their physical counterparts is their ability to clearly show the fair’s ROI. Since visitors are in a controlled environment, actions like clicks, downloads, CV uploads and views are easily measurable. These metrics can also help you in evaluating the content type and features that were popular among the audience and those that did not work and amending future events accordingly can provide great benefit.
Now that you’ve planned, designed and executed your event, you can sit back and get to qualifying the leads you gathered and there are several ways of doing this:
- Registration information: Grab contact details from the career fair sign up form and reach out to job-seekers.
- Attendees: People who actually attended the event after registering are more interested in your company than those who could not. Generate a mailing list from their information and follow-up with them by sharing post-event marketing material.
- Applications: The resumes that were uploaded across your career fair are already part of your talent pool. Use these profiles to filter and match candidates to job vacancies.
- Chat room interactions: Many visitors will have dropped questions or other information during their chat interactions at the helpdesk or at individual booths. Use tis information to generate leads and engage with them.
- Questionnaires/Polls: You can also use surveys and polls to keep the audience engaged during the event. The data collected can be used to cluster visitors based on their responses and different messages can be sent to these groups accordingly.
As is evident in the whole framework of pulling of a successful virtual career fair, your business goal setting exercise is key and drives the rest of the activities forward. Sometimes companies do virtual events “because it’s cool and hip” and that’s the wrong sentiment to start with. Virtual Career Fairs will pay off only if you have a set plan and you execute the fair in a way that’s aligned to those objectives – everything from the marketing efforts to site copy matters and needs to link back somehow to key goals you want to achieve.