No need to wake up at the crack of dawn, bring your suit to the dry cleaners, or wait in long lines to see recruiters. Pants are optional–but recommended. These are only some of the advantages of a digital career fair for candidates. And interest has exploded as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
For in-house recruiters and staffing firms, virtual career fairs are a cost-effective yet impactful way to interview a large number of candidates quickly. Costs are lower, and you can run the event over several days, giving you more time to interview candidates. Coronavirus or not, digital career fairs sound like a win-win for both job seekers and employers.
Still, it takes work to organize, promote, and run one. Your digital career fair is a representation of your brand or agency, so you want everything to run as smoothly as possible. To help you out, we put together the steps involved in hosting and promoting your first virtual career fair.
There are a lot of different options here. One of the most well-known is video conferencing software Zoom. Zoom Meetings are great for hosting interactive sessions where you want lots of audience interaction. You can also break your sessions into smaller groups.
The latter feature is particularly useful for interviewing. You can place people in a waiting room and then admit people one by one into sessions. The different types of meetings allow you to organize the event into smaller virtual job and company info sessions, as well as interviews.
If this sounds too basic, there are higher-end options. Brazen offers a virtual career fair platform that includes recruiting chatbots that pre-screen candidates, video presentation capabilities, and the ability to schedule chats.
VP of Marketing at Brazen, Joe Matar, tells us that Brazen has been supporting virtual career fairs for over a decade.
He adds, “Even before the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of organizations realized the benefits of hosting a career fair virtually. It’s a generational thing partly, with millennials and Gen Z. Millions of people are used to communicating online.”
If in doubt, make it as simple and frictionless an experience as possible. According to Jonathan Workman, Director of Recruitment Services at Labor Connect, it’s important not to lose sight of the candidate experience.
"It’s all about facilitating that connection between an employer and candidate and making it as easy as possible. That’s our main goal when we run our virtual hiring events."
The express purpose of hosting a virtual hiring event is to connect with more qualified candidates for your open positions. If you don’t tell anybody about it, nobody’s going to join.
Jonathan promotes Labor Connect’s virtual hiring events mainly through social media. “We promote it through job fair directories to get it in front of employers. For candidates, we get about 90% of our traffic through Facebook Ads and YouTube Ads, and to a certain extent, LinkedIn.”
Jonathan mentions that traffic tends to convert at a higher rate closer to the actual date of the event. In general, trying to create some sense of urgency is crucial. If your event is approaching, tell candidates that there are a limited number of spots available.
As anyone who has promoted an online event knows, getting people to show interest is one thing. Getting people to attend is a whole other kettle of fish. To ensure attendance, you’re going to need to remind people more than once. Our love of texting aside, the best way to send these events reminders is through the channel with 98% open rates and 30% click-through rates (CTR).
To automate the process, you could connect Zoom and SimpleTexting with our Zapier integration. Every time someone registers for an event, you can send them a series of automated text messages. It’s possible to set up all of this in less than ten minutes.
If you’re new to the world of digital career fairs, you’re going to want to gauge what a successful event is. One of the benefits of the digital format is that it’s easier to measure performance compared to a traditional career fair. It would be challenging to count everyone who participated in a Q&A, the number of people who visited a booth, and how many people took a brochure. The virtual equivalents of these actions are easier to measure.
Your attendees are the star of the show. Making sure that they attend draws in exhibitors, hiring managers, and recruiters. Here are a couple of essential metrics that you can use to measure success:
A lot of Brazen’s customers see a virtual hiring event as being successful if they hire tons of qualified candidates. But Joe points out that the candidate experience also matters now just as much as it did before the pandemic. It’s worth incorporating a net promoter metric to gauge your performance, which can be collected post event.
While you deserve a big pat on the back for pulling your first digital career fair off (hopefully) without a hitch, your work isn’t done yet. The next stage is to follow up with job seekers post-event.
First, you’ll want to assess your new talent pool. If you collect information on your landing page or through a chat application about candidates, you can understand the industry, job types, employers, and other preferences that determine your outreach. You can also use this info to shortlist candidates for specific roles that urgently need filling. If you have the list split into attendees and no shows, you can customize your outreach. Even if you don’t, we recommend you send a simple “thank you for attending” email or text.
(Of course—if you’re ready to—you can send specific candidates an interview invitation text message.)
Whether you’re an online job fair veteran or a novice, we recommend you collect feedback from both job seekers and exhibitors. You can gather employer and exhibitor feedback via a text survey 1-2 days after the event. It’s a smart way to start a conversation while collecting ideas to improve your future online events.
Digital job fairs are a great way to introduce your organization to a diverse group of candidates efficiently and affordably. Of course, any great event takes a lot of meticulous planning, regardless of whether it’s online or not. The positive impression created will help you with your brand’s reputation long after the event is over.