Are virtual career fairs worth the hassle?
Job fairs: love them or hate them, they’re here to stay despite Covid trying its hardest to wipe them from memory.
Cast your mind back to your days at university or school and you might remember a dingy career fair. There was always a big stand for the army in the centre and… not much else.
Nowadays job fairs aren’t held in fluorescent-lit halls. They’re held in your living room.
The rise of virtual events has opened career fairs up to every organisation, but are they worth the hassle for smaller businesses?
Where in-person career fairs were limited to the size and location of the venue, virtual ones can offer far more places to employers.
All you need is some kind of sign up page, a video conference link and a few interested job hunters to make a great career fair. Usually virtual fairs mimic in-person ones and let attendees ‘walk’ around virtual ‘stalls’ to talk with company or department representatives.
And where an in-person event might include lots of uncertain hovering and surprise elevator pitches, virtual fairs tend to have a laid-back feel. People can mute themselves, turn off their camera and leave the call whenever they need, so while they might feel unnatural at first everyone should be able to adjust.
But are they worth the hassle?
Are virtual career fairs worth it?
They’re good for juniors
Career fairs tend to be great for attracting junior talent and graduates. You won’t find many mid-senior level job hunters attending your event, but early Gen Z and late millennials should be right at home on your video call.
So if you’re looking to hire a trainee, intern or entry-level candidate you shouldn’t have many problems. But if you’re looking for experienced job hunters a career fair won’t be the best strategy.
They keep costs low
Thanks to technology you don’t need to bring a fancy sign, order some company-branded pens or arrange travel for your team. Tech will let you join a career fair from anywhere.
Job fairs can often be cheaper than traditional hiring as you’ll get to bypass advertising the role and only show it to your top candidates from the event.
They’re great for your image
Lots of junior job hunters aren’t all that aware of all of the opportunities out there. A career fair is a great way to introduce talented, enthusiastic candidates to a new business function and your business altogether.
Even if you don’t end up hiring most of the people you speak to, they will leave the event with a new image of your company in their minds. If that image is a good one, this will open you up to more applications down the line.
There are lots around
Now that everyone can host a public event on the cheap, lots of people are doing it. There are hundreds of career fairs to choose from, so making job hunters choose yours might be tricky.
This is an especially big issue for small companies. When you want to host your own fair generating buzz might be tricky without a big marketing team. And when you join your local city’s career fair you might get few visitors as job hunters flock to well-known businesses.
You can’t control quality
There is no way to control who turns up for your career fair unless you ask for CVs first… which totally defeats the point and will cost you countless hours before any tickets go out.
If you’re joining your local career fair you will likely have no control over admissions anyway!
For remote businesses, joining a career fair that’s tied to a city can seem a little silly. Why limit yourself to location?
They’re for techy people
Young, tech-savvy job hunters will be far more comfortable at a virtual event than older or non-techy people. And that’s fine if you’re exclusively looking for developers, data scientists and marketers.
But if you’re looking to build your sales, customer support or accounts teams then this could be an unnecessary roadblock.
Virtual job fair tips
With those pros and cons in mind, let’s think about how we can create career fairs that are worth attending.
1 – Get specific
If you don’t want to deal with irrelevant attendees or fight with big companies to get sign-ups, we recommend being as specific as possible. Why join your local city’s career fair when you could join a nationwide one for job hunters in the tech industry?
The more specific you can be, the more relevant your attendees will be.
2 – Accessibility
Even though virtual career fairs are inherently more accessible than in-person ones, there are still things to consider. If your career fair charges a fee for tickets, sends attendees to a multi-step registration page, is being hosted during work hours or for a short period of time, you might want to look into making this process more accessible.
We know that you want to hire the best person for the job while ensuring that you’re open to diverse candidates, so stay on the lookout for roadblocks. Attendees from lower socio-economic backgrounds might be put off by a fee and might not have the best tech at home to handle a complicated registration process.
Some could work or care for someone during the day so barriers like a 9-5 run time could prevent them from turning up. A virtual career fair doesn’t have to run during business hours. I recently saw one that started at 9 pm!
3 – Stay in touch
If you have to compete with well-known companies for the best talent, you better hope that your ideal applicants remember your company’s name.
A great way to do that is to stay in touch with your favourite attendees! Whether this means they get email alerts from your company or a personal message every now and then on LinkedIn, staying in touch is a great way to let candidates know that your company is a great one to work for.
If you need any extra help attracting great candidates without breaking the bank, check out our hiring platform.