Virtual recruiting is a hot topic these days. Almost everyone is reshaping their recruiting processes and it’s time you did too. You’re posting on online job boards, starting up employer branding initiatives, and screening candidates over Zoom. Now it’s time to put things into overdrive and set up a virtual career fair.

But let’s back up for a minute. What exactly is a virtual career fair? How do they differ from physical career fairs? Scroll on, we’re answering all questions here. 

Before the pandemic, companies used physical career fairs to source, screen, and hire potential candidates. They were useful for recruiters who are looking to hire top-quality talent in a short period of time. This made them popular across the globe. Yet, some factors hindered their effectiveness.

Physical career fairs limit opportunities for talent to access companies, and vice versa. Attendees were mostly people living nearby. At such events, attracting global talent was not an option. The budget and capacity constraints of conventional career fairs contributed to their low return on investment. This put a question mark on the value they offered. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc over physical events in the last two years or so. Many companies canceled their regular events, or shifted to the online platform. Thus, it comes as no surprise that career fairs suffered extensively. Organizations and job hunters could not enjoy these events for many months.

These limitations of physical career fairs bring us to virtual career fairs. These events are nothing short of revolutionary. If you are looking to recruit for various roles across the organization and want to recruit global top talent, then you need to consider a virtual career fair. 

What Are Virtual Career Fairs?

Virtual career fairs mimic a physical event in experience and exceed them in engagement. They allow you to create an easy-to-navigate, fully branded virtual environment. This includes an animated lobby with 3D avatars walking in and out of the hall. Furthermore, it even has video greetings and introductions from company representatives. This lets you humanize your brand and connect with audiences. 

Your exhibitors (i.e various departments organization-wide), can set up their booths in the virtual exhibit hall. Here, attendees can access information about the company, fill surveys or chat with company reps. When they access information, people can click through to see documents, flyers and any other collateral exhibitors have. Furthermore, they can see job listings and also go to the employer’s website within each department’s booth. Your executives can also deliver webinars and host live Q&A sessions to keep candidates tuned in.

Want to set up a virtual career fair? Wait no more. We have listed down everything you need to know about organizing such an event online.

1. Set Your Business Goals

A virtual career fair will give you the metrics you desire if you know how to plan for it. Before you set up a virtual career fair, consider the following questions when defining goals for your virtual career fair. 

  • Is it an employer branding event or do you want to hire a certain number of candidates on the spot for the jobs you have at hand?
  • Do you want to conduct interviews during the virtual career fair?
  • What types of candidates (and from which markets) do you want to attract?
  • How do you want to engage your attendees? Which features will you leverage for engagement? 

What Is The Success Metric?

Consider your main goals and key performance indicators. Decide on and write down your quantified objectives. They can be employer brand promotion or lead generation (employee recruitment).  Use these to inform every decision you make.

Furthermore, you’ll use these objectives to drive your event planning strategies. These strategies should involve cost-benefit analyses, budgets, marketing plans, and your end goals.

First of all, when you set up a virtual career fair, you actually need to consider if it is viable for you. To do this, you should estimate the return you can expect on your investment. Then, decide whether the expenses and effort will be worth it. You can figure this out, as long as you ask yourself these basic questions. 

How Much Do Virtual Career Fairs Cost?

Before you set your budget, consider how much a virtual event will cost you. Of course, you’ll save considerably on logistical, travel, and setup costs. Plus, virtual event platforms offer the same, if not more, functionality to your career fair. Setting up a series of video calls won’t hit the mark. You need a fully functional virtual environment that can accommodate many candidates with many needs simultaneously. 

Instead, you should strive to create an experience that is as immersive as possible. The best way to do this is by going for a dedicated virtual event platform. Such a platform will have all the technology and expertise needed. It will help make your event a memorable success. Add in the features they have to offer that promise to elevate your attendee experience. 

If you go for a physical career fair, you’re looking at roughly $30,000 in costs* at least. This includes venue rentals, logistical costs, set up costs, accommodations, and a myriad of other factors. 

You can expect, on average, that a virtual career fair may cost you approximately $15,000. This figure covers the standard set of features, such as:

  • Allocated event manager
  • Constant technical support
  • Customized registration & landing pages
  • Branded virtual booths for exhibitors
  • Auditorium & webinars
  • Chat & networking tools
  • Post-event analytics & reports

You also get access to tons of additional features and integrations that ensure your attendees are engaged and entertained throughout the event. On top of the features you have access to, virtual events also help you scale quickly.  You can invite unlimited people from around the globe. That isn’t something a physical career fair warrants. It costs double the amount of the virtual version, so you might as well set up a virtual career fair instead of a conventional one.

*these cost estimates are based on events hosting over 100 people

Are Virtual Career Fairs Worth it?

The second thing you need to consider when you set up a virtual career is: are they really worth it? Most of the time, you will find that you stand to gain if you take your events online.

These days, many people are in precarious employment situations. They would love to attend a career event. Of course, it is much harder to take time out of the day to attend a physical event. Not to mention the extra expenditure they’d have to incur in case the event is in a different city. 

However, they can attend virtual events at their own convenience much more easily. This will get you a considerable number of leads. Thus, you’ll find that virtual career fairs are often well worth it. This is especially true when you take into account their long-term benefits for your organization.

2. Choose a Platform

To set up a virtual career fair, you need to focus on the cost and quality of the event. You can find two kinds of virtual career fair platforms in the market. The simpler ones consist of a webpage with chat windows. Here, visitors can talk to recruiters at designated times. The other is more elaborate and mirrors a physical career fair in layout and experience.
Pro tip: Pay attention to the technicalities when you are planning to set up a virtual career fair. These include how navigable your event is, and how easy it is to set up a booth. 
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’ve received  for each open position, ask if the platform has a job board integration.
  • If you plan to conduct interviews and fast-track the recruitment process during the event, ask whether the platform has chat and scheduling facilities.
  • See if your hiring managers can share assignments/evaluations and have candidates submit them.
  • Consider if recruiters will be able to search for candidates that match certain job requirements in real-time during the event, and reach out to them for a chat.

Protip: Before buying, don’t be afraid to speak with your platform’s representatives about all the features and facilities they can offer. A good virtual event platform will offer flexible features, integrations and offer a dedicated support team to ensure your event runs without any glitches.

Here are some key factors to take into account when you interview virtual event platform providers. 

Can I Customize My Workflows?

Look for a platform that allows you to customize workflows. If you accept resumes, then make sure candidate registration forms include the details. These include location, job title, work experience, and skills. 

You should also create an interview scheduling flow during the event for recruiters. Incorporate hiring workflows during the event. Your recruiting teams will find all these facilities quite useful. Then, they will be more likely to take part in your event if you have them.

Can the Virtual Event Providers Furnish a “Live” Demo & Set Up a Virtual Career Fair?

A brochure or flyer won’t suffice when you’re looking into virtual career fair platforms. With a physical venue, it is easy to assess the condition of the property and other factors. With a virtual venue, however, you will have to investigate a lot more. 

A live demo will enable you to gauge the platform’s capabilities. It will also allow you to experience the platform’s performance and usability. In addition, this will give you hands-on experience with the platform. 

This way, you can gauge how much effort you need to do on your part. If a platform aims to sell you technology without adequate support and guidance, then it is best to choose another contender.

Is There Good Customer Support?

Try to partner with a provider that offers reliable customer support both before and during the fair. This way, they can resolve any roadblocks that occur as fast as possible. 

After all, you don’t want to lose out on valuable visits if some feature or even the whole event crashes. Check what their availability hours are. Ask if they offer dedicated resources for your organization’s event. 

Will My Data be Secure?

Data privacy is essential if you are collecting personal data from visitors. You will also be accountable for complying with state privacy laws. Make sure you have proper data protection mechanisms in place to avoid any legal issues. 

Ask your virtual event hosting platform what security measures they have in place. Besides, you should ensure exhibitors and attendees that their data will be well-protected as well. 

3. Allow Virtual Booth Customization

The great thing about virtual booths is that they leave a lot of room for your exhibitors to get creative. So, you can experiment with the type of information you wish to present to attendees. They have ample space for branding, content (videos, brochures, forms), and interaction

Protip: Make sure to schedule training with each of your booth representatives so they can take full advantage of all the features available at the exhibit booths. 

Recruiters can customize their virtual booths to a greater extent than traditional booths. They also have much more flexibility in content format display. Here are a few items that you can host in individual virtual booths:

  • List of open vacancies per department
  • Downloadable and shareable company benefits
  • Social media handles and contact information
  • Corporate and introductory videos
  • A photo gallery showcasing work life at the company
  • 3D avatars customized to ensure diversity and inclusivity
  • Appointment-booking and scheduling features on chat
  • Audio and video meetings in private chat windows  
  • Moderated Q&A Sessions

If you plan on attracting attendees and exhibitors from across the globe, ensure that the platform has a multilingual capacity. Make sure the booths also have the necessary facilities to deal with this approach.

Protip: Compile the most repeated queries and submit FAQs to the moderated Q&A session, with detailed answers. Collect and answer questions as the event goes on. 

4. Promote Your Virtual Career Fair 

As with a physical career fair, the real challenge lies in getting relevant candidates to attend. You can have the most interactive event around but it won’t guarantee registrations unless many people know about it. This requires marketing at every step of the event, from pre-event processes to post-event reports. 

Pre-Event Marketing

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. You should also include relevant resources like user guides.

A User Guide for Attendees

It is best to include a user guide for visitors. You should share this guide during registration, so that your attendees are well-equipped on the day of the event.

Talk your attendees through with what to expect, how to navigate and how to benefit from various facilities such as networking lounges, etc. Make them aware of all the resources available for them to view and download. 

During-Event Marketing

Ensure that your event remains at the top of your attendees’ minds by sending out regular reminders to registrants via direct mail, social media, in-event announcements and other communication channels.

Set up trigger events. For instance, if an attendee registered and they haven’t logged in, send them a quick reminder so they can join in. 

Post-Event Marketing

Once the event is over, you can leave your event ‘live’ for those who didn’t make it to come and browse. Offer recorded webinars and workshops to those who could not attend the live event. You can also leave the chat tool live, so that visitors can leave questions long after the event has ended. Just remember to continue checking on the chat regularly until the event closes for good!

In addition, you should offer up a few resources for your exhibitors and visitors to make the transition from physical to virtual career fairs smoother. One useful resource could be offering tips for employers and exhibitors. 

Virtual Career Fair Tips for Employers

Give your exhibitors what they need to be familiar with virtual events. Most recruiters will appreciate a user-friendly guide for setting up a booth at your event. Include this guide in your event pitches, and also offer tips to help them get the most out of your virtual career fair. 

These tips can talk about features such as chat tools, job boards, webinars, appointment scheduling, virtual briefcases and many more.

5. Monitor Performance Metrics

You shouldn’t be just focused on how to set up a virtual career fair, but also be concerned about the outcome of the event. 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 monitored 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. These metrics help hosts and organizers visualize the attendee journey, and get insights on audience behavior. This is especially valuable for marketing and recruitment purposes. 

The data you gather at your event will help you and the recruiters see how many visitors have logged in, and where they spend the most time. Using this feedback, you can improve your future events and recruiters can gauge their hiring procedures. 

Feedback Mechanisms From Both Exhibitors & Visitors

Make sure you know your exhibitors and visitors are satisfied at every stage of the event. Keep in touch with your exhibitors to resolve any problems they have. In addition, you should have an info or help desk in your virtual lobby for attendees to access.

Visitors can go to this info desk and talk to your representatives to clear up any queries they may have. Furthermore, add in feedback surveys after the event so you know how well you did, and how you can improve in the future.

6. Analyze Your Event

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: The number of people who registered to attend your event, and their registration information. 
  • 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 help desk or at individual booths. Use this 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 as well as after. The data collected can be used to cluster visitors based on their responses and different messages can be sent to these groups accordingly. 
  • Engagement & traffic metrics: View how many people downloaded documents, viewed files, etc., and how many people entered your virtual auditorium, exhibit hall, and more.
  • Booth & session traffic: See how many people visited each booth, and what actions they took there. Plus, track how many attended your virtual webinars and other sessions within the auditorium.

As is evident in the whole framework of pulling off a successful virtual career fair, your business goal-setting exercise is key and drives the rest of the activities forward. 

Virtual career fairs will pay off only if you have a set plan and you execute it in a way that’s aligned to your objectives – everything from the marketing efforts to site copy matters and needs to link back somehow to the key goals you want to achieve.

Final Thoughts

Virtual career fairs are a high-value exercise that should be incorporated into your virtual recruiting programs. They offer the potential for high ROI, and give companies access to a global talent pool. However, it’s imperative that virtual career fairs are executed properly. 

Here is a quick round-up of what to do when you set up a virtual career fair:

  • Set clear goals: set quantitative goals for your event. These can include visitor engagement statistics, number of successful recruitments, or simple booth visits. 
  • Choose the right platform: go for a virtual event hosting platform that offers you all the features you need to run a successful career fair.
  • Allow booth customization: let your exhibitors customize and brand their booths as they want. Also, offer them various features and facilities they can choose from. 
  • Promote your event: market your event on all available platforms. This will help you get the word out and make the fair succeed. Don’t leave any avenue unexplored. 
  • Monitor various metrics: collect data insights throughout the event. This way, you can improve your processes later. Recruiters will also appreciate the collected data. 
  • Analyze your data: analyze the data you collect after the virtual job fair. See how you can host a better event next time. You can also compile reports to share with other stakeholders. 

Want to learn more about Virtual Career Fairs? Read “The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Career Fairs”.

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