Job fairs are widely used by companies to source, pre-screen and sometimes even hire potential candidates in one place within the timeframe of a few days. They help recruiters hire top talent in a short period of time which has made them an extremely popular recruitment practice worldwide. However, some dynamic shifts in the work environment have shown to hinder the effectiveness of conventional job fairs.
Since a physical job fair is frequented by people living near the area it is being hosted, attracting global talent to these events becomes difficult. Added budget and capacity constraints of conventional job fairs also contribute to their overall low return on investment which makes it difficult to assess their value.
Companies can overcome most of these limitations by switching to virtual job fairs and most virtual event platforms excel at doing this. With a Virtual Job Fair, you can create a branded virtual environment with a lobby showing avatars walking in and out of the hall along with video greetings from company representatives. You can also design an Exhibit Hall with multiple booths where visitors can absorb information, fill surveys or chat with exhibitors to learn more about the different companies. Your exhibitors can also deliver live or pre-recorded webinars and host live Q&A sessions to keep candidates engaged.
Here’s a quick list explaining the main things you need to take care of to construct a winning virtual job fair.
Define your business goals
A virtual job fair will give you the results you require if you know how to plan for them. Is it just an employer branding/networking event or do you want a certain number of job-seekers to find employment? Do you want companies to be able to conduct interviews during the virtual job fair? What is the overall success metric? Decide on the goals, write them down and then use them to guide every decision that you make.
Choose a Platform
You can find two kinds of virtual job fair platforms in the market. The budget-friendly kind is a simple web page with chat windows where job-seekers can chat with recruiters at allotted times. The second is far more elaborate and mimics the experience of a physical job fair in layout and engagement, often times exceeding in the latter. Where the former is cheaper, the latter is more suited to companies who wish to impress their audience, allow access to global talent and include rich features to complement their dynamic platform.
Bonus tip: Pay attention to the technicalities
For your virtual job fair to work, it should be in line with the goals you’ve set. For example:
- If you want to know how many CVs you have received against each vacancy, you need to ensure the platform has a job board integration.
- If you want to allow companies to conduct interviews during the event, it is imperative for your platform to have live chat facility to aid this.
- Want in-app assessments for applicants? Check if your platform providers can help you share evaluations with job-seekers and have them submit them back.
- Have you promised surefire employer branding tools to the companies exhibiting at your virtual job fair? It’s important that your fair allows your exhibitors the flexibility to host webinars and brand virtual booths with various content formats.
Having these features can elevate your virtual job fair to great heights so seek them out when designing your virtual job fair.
Customize the components
It’s important for your virtual job fair to have customizable workflows enabled within the platform. For example, if your plan to collect CVs at the virtual job fair, the candidate registration forms must reflect the mandatory fields that affect recruiters’ hiring decisions. Everything from creating custom interview workflows, sending CVs to HRMS systems, and incorporating hiring workflows specific to the exhibitors, should be covered by your virtual job fair platform provider.
After developing a requirements checklist and event budget, you should move onto interviewing virtual platform providers to find the one that closely meets your needs. Here are some questions that you should ask:
Can you see a “live” demo?
Where it’s easy to evaluate conditions for a physical job fair, with a virtual one, you can’t really estimate factors like the number of staff required, visitor accessibility, property condition etc. Instead, user experience takes center stage and to get a sense of it, you need to “experience” the event yourself. This is where a live demo takes the message home that a regular brochure does not. It allows you to measure the platform’s usability, scope, and configurability which is important in judging both its front-end and back-end use.
Is their customer service responsive?
Since a virtual job fair continues to be a novel experience for event hosts, exhibitors and visitors alike, it’s important for your platform providers to have a team of professionals forever ready to guide users in configuring and operating the fair prior to the event and resolving on-spot queries during the event. One way to test your provider’s claims is by heading to their website and calling their customer support. If you reach someone soon enough, that a better sign than being directed to voicemail and never hearing back on your queries.
Will my data be secure?
Your virtual job fair will provide many spaces of capturing lead information with event registration forms, job applications, and surveys being a few examples. This will make you accountable to comply with state privacy laws which makes it important for you to ensure that your platform has the right security parameters in place to handle data collection during the event.
Customize Your Virtual Booths
With customized virtual booths, your exhibitors can be very selective in what visitors take away from their visit to their virtual displays. There’s ample room for branding, displaying compelling content like videos, brochures, presentations and forms and visitor engagement. Here are some of the things that your exhibitors can use to make their virtual booths deliver impact:
- Job board with vacancies
- Presentations and brochures
- Company stock and PR information
- Company photo gallery
Encourage exhibitors to make the most of their virtual booths by having someone man the chat section whenever the event is live. By answering queries from attendees in real-time, you will extract maximum value out of those interactions by bringing attendees one step closer to applying to the vacancies.
Check with your provider if they can arrange for robust search filters to be incorporated in the virtual booths for both the exhibitors and the visitors. This will enable job-seekers to quickly reach relevant openings when they visit a virtual booth and it will make the recruiters’ lives easier by identifying relevant profiles quickly and accelerating the hiring cycle.
Promote the event through a multi-channel approach
Here’s the reality: whether your event’s purpose is enabling exhibitor’s employer branding or helping them close positions, you need an audience to bring this to fruition. You can have the most interactive and engaging virtual job fair around but it won’t get attendees unless many people know that it is about to happen.
A well-planned event marketing strategy will be key here. Aggressively promote your virtual job fair through Social media, Email, PR channels and partner companies. You can reach a wider audience if you use integrated marketing campaigns to deliver a single message in the most impactful way to your target audience.
Your marketing spends and efforts will only be as good as the returns they bring. Therefore, appoint someone who is responsible for executing the event marketing strategy and make them accountable for tracking the metrics so that any fresh insight on the campaigns’ performance is quickly incorporated into the pre-event marketing strategy to maximize reach. Some competent virtual event platforms also perform event promotion as part of their package so be sure to leverage these services as added bonuses.
Many marketers make the mistake of nailing pre-event marketing and stopping right there. Don’t be one of them. Where pre-event marketing is important from bringing audiences to the event, promoting the event when it is live is as important in keeping audiences engaged. Keep your event top-of-mind through regular reminders to registrants through email, social media or any other channels that have captured your registrants’ contact information.
What’s great about virtual events is that you can repurpose its content and use to enrich your post-event marketing strategy. Use recorded webcasts, webinars, e-books and workshops to continue engagement with event visitors. You can also share these content formats to registrants who could not make it to the event. This will breed goodwill making it clear that your event’s purpose was to develop value to people rather than getting them to attend the live event.
Monitor performance metrics
Possibly the most crucial advantage that virtual job 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 in 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 virtual job fair, 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 job fair sign-up form and reach out to job-seekers.
- Attendees: People who actually attended the event after registering are more interested in securing jobs as compared to 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 job 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 job 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 Job 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 to the key goals you want to achieve.