Companies will always look for talent, but during the pandemic, virtual career fairs became more popular. With so many employees preferring to work from home, virtual career fairs and hiring are tremendous assets for remote-based companies. Here are a few ways to find success at a virtual career fair.
What Are Virtual Career Fairs?
Virtual Hiring and Career Fairs use chat and teleconferencing to simulate the typical interactions and interviews between job seekers and recruiters at in-person events.
Applicants can ask questions about the company, roles, development opportunities, upload resumes, or complete a screening interview.
Virtual Career Fairs can include simple video calls, chats, or fully interactive booths where companies can interview attendees.
How To Stand Out At a Virtual Career Fair
There are a lot of benefits to virtual career fairs when you are filling positions. They are easy to promote, schedule and manage, and companies can capture valuable information digitally.
However, it can be hard to stand out and draw talent to meet with you if you attend a sizeable virtual event, especially if you have limited brand awareness. You have to approach the event with a strategy in place.
1. Keep It Short
Offline career fairs can last for an entire day or at least several hours. However, virtual career fairs are easy to log on and log off from, and most job seekers and other attendees won’t participate in long virtual sessions.
It would help if you aimed to engage with job seekers for a maximum of thirty minutes, preferably shorter. Ensure that your recruiters can also take regular breaks – at least once every hour and a half.
2. Start Engaging With Your Ideal Talent Early On
Don’t wait for the virtual career fair to start reaching out to attendees. It would be best to catch the attention of the talent you want early on before your competitors do. Use social media marketing to let job seekers know that you will be present at the virtual event and start providing them with reasons to seek you out.
This is also a great way to use your existing network and let them know that there are jobs available.
Showcase your culture, pictures of your office, retreats, incentives – anything that reflects your culture and why you are hiring.
Don’t be afraid to incorporate your humor and personality early in your communications. Gen Z and millennial talent are more interested in fulfillment than other generations, so be sure to highlight perks, your approach to work-life balance, your plans for skills advancement, and any perks like travel.
You can also schedule appointments virtually for the day of the virtual fair.
3. Work On Your Brand Before the Event
Even if your company isn’t a household name, you still want to have some information out there for job seekers that want to reach you. Job seekers will visit your website, your social media, Glassdoor, and other sites to research the job.
Ensure that you use those resources to outline your mission and goals, how talent can make changes in your company, and what you want your talent to achieve. Create blog posts about the career fair and invite job seekers to approach you if they fit the profile you are looking for.
Provide previews of what would be available, who will be there to meet them, and talk about your company. If you only had a few minutes to tell them about your company, what would you say? Make sure to repeat those messages throughout your communication.
4. Prepare to Answer the Questions Potential Candidates Will Have
You can use social media or emails to reach out to interested parties and RSVPs. Start gauging the questions they may have about the company. Answer each question you can (provided the information isn’t sensitive) and invite them to visit you at the virtual career fair.
Knowing what the audience wants to know is the secret to making the most out of your virtual career fair experience. You can structure your time accordingly and create a more interactive session. Suppose you ever reach a lull or meet with an unresponsive candidate. In that case, you can pull up the frequently asked questions from social media and use it as an ice-breaker (while also providing important information).
You can also use social media to gather information. Create a post asking, “If you could ask a prospective employer anything, what would it be?” or, “What is the one thing you are looking for in an employer?”
Use the answers to update your job ads and employer pages accordingly.
5. Use Testimonials and Talk About Values
If you can, try to put together short day-in-the-life videos and interviews from current employees. A message from the CEO can also go a long way to creating a favorable impression. You can play these videos for job seekers and upload them to your site or YouTube channel to view ahead of time, with a link to your virtual career fair.
You can also ask your clients to share why they love working with you and what your business has done for them. If candidates can see their impact by working for you, they will be inspired to apply.
Try also to share the ways your company serves the community at large and how you approach diversity.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), student hires significantly value these programs and may decide based on companies’ commitment to serving others.
6. Gamify the Experience
At a traditional career fair, you are limited in what you can do with your assigned space. You may only have limited brand exposure or physical branding at the event. You can look at the remote nature of a virtual career fair as limiting, or you can see it as an opportunity to get creative.
A virtual career fair can allow you to influence how job seekers perceive you before you’ve even met them. You can also use your creativity to let job seekers step up to a challenge or start the dialogue early.
Think of the things your job seekers identified as being important to them during their career journey. Do they value team building? Challenges? The ability to use their skills? You can keep your job seekers engaged and intrigued by gamifying the virtual career fair experience.
Consider facilitating a virtual scavenger hunt where job seekers can win swag or hosting a pub quiz-style game about the company hosted by a comedian or professional event host to make it more engaging. Trivia boards, virtual exercises, and other ice breakers will encourage job seekers to pay attention and create a memorable experience.
Happy job seekers may spread word of mouth about the company, maximizing your reach.
7. Use Your Executives as Ambassadors
Your C-suite won’t usually take the time to travel to an in-person career fair, but they can connect with talent during a video chat. Find some time for your CEO or VP or other senior executives to make themselves available during the virtual career fair.
This will be a big drawcard for job seekers eager to impress. It can also build real brand awareness and equity. You can talk about how you are an equal opportunity employer, but bringing your Chief Technology Officer that happens to be female along, is an excellent way of showcasing your commitment.
Connections with key stakeholders can create a genuine sense of belonging with candidates, and it's even more powerful if your key stakeholders are representative of your race, age, or gender.
Perhaps you have a rockstar 21-year old manager that climbed the ranks quickly because they deserved it. They can show students and younger talent that their age doesn’t influence their potential.
These virtual ambassadors can help you connect with people other than your recruiting team and helps candidates visualize what working with you as their employers will be like.
If you can’t pinpoint senior leaders, try to film short, one-minute videos with them.
They can film it on their iPhones and talk about why they choose you as their employers and why they still work there. Ask former interns to create testimonials after every internship is completed.
You can also ask current employees to create short tip videos for prospective candidates, giving them advice for succeeding at your place of work.
“If you need help, ask! Our managers have an open-door policy.”
“Don’t be afraid to share your ideas; we value input.”
This will help them picture their career path at your company and feel like they are part of the team long before they apply for the job.
8. Use Your Virtual 3D Platform Realistically
The fact that the career fair is taking place in a virtual or hybrid environment, does not mean that it will be hassle free. The environment brings its own challenges in addition to the existing ones. However, the correct use of your virtual career fair platform will ease the overcoming of the challenges.
Take into consideration that the virtual environment is the next best solution to real life, in person events. Keep this in mind and you will create the feeling of being there around you.
For example, PandaMR has an amazing feature of meeting rooms.
A possible scenario of effectively and realistically utilizing this feature would be if you have shortlisted the candidates, want to offer them a training opportunity and an email just will not do the trick. Now the meeting rooms are the perfect private spaces for you to make the offer.
9. Be Authentic
Of course, you want to impress candidates, but you should still be authentic. Showing your nerves or your personality or talking about the challenging nature of the job is fine! As a recruiter, you have to show who you are so that candidates know if they will be a good fit or not.
If everyone at your company works in T-shirts and sneakers, don’t feel like you have to wear a suit. Be confident in who you are and who you represent.
10. Make Sure You Have the Right Tech
Your virtual career fair is the first opportunity you will have to make a good impression. A tech failure can ruin that impression, and candidates will switch to the next available company. Make sure that your equipment works and that the connection is stable.
Work with a professional company to ensure that everything goes smoothly on the day.
11. Continue Building and Nurturing Candidates After Virtual Career Fairs
Your relationship with your candidates should end when the virtual career fair does. Recruiting takes time. Candidates have likely met with several employers and recruiters, so you need to keep your competitive edge. Reach out to candidates a day after the fair and invite them to connect with you one-on-one on a Zoom video chat or in-person interview.
If you can, personalize your recruiting messages. Let candidates know why you think they are a good fit. If you want to, you can use this time to gamify the experience with prizes, trivia, and other events.
12. Close Out with a Strong Message
At the end of every virtual conversation, reiterate the next steps of the recruiting process with enthusiasm. Make sure candidates have your contact information and share your appreciation with them for taking the time to talk to you.
Don't forget to grab their contact information, either. Send a thank-you email to candidates with a link to your job boards and events so that they can keep an eye on opportunities as they arise.
This is a new and exciting time for companies that want to acquire new talent. While a virtual career fair format is different from a traditional one, the core principles stay the same. Candidates want to start their careers at a place that cares about them and their goals.
Put your best foot forward while recruiting, do your research and make sure you present yourself and your employers in a good light.
Virtual career fairs are here to stay, and as employers, we have to keep up with the new technology and recruiting techniques.
In many ways, virtual career fairs have more advantages than in-person recruiting events because you can utilize your executives as ambassadors. You can leverage events and games to make a candidate’s experience a more memorable one.