So you’ve finally decided to make the leap and host a virtual career fair. Now the only question you have to answer is what kind of virtual fair do you want? Choosing from all the different solutions out there can be more difficult than you’d think. Thankfully you’ve come to the right place!
We’re here to help explain some of the major virtual fair options you’re likely to come across, give you the pros and cons of each, and hopefully give you a good launchpad to find the perfect solution for you.
What is a Virtual Career Fair?
Before we get started, a virtual career fair is an event hosted online that gives your candidates and recruiters the same opportunity to come together and try to find a good match that they would have at an in-person event. These events generally have a defined start and end time, just like a live fair, and use some kind of web or app-based platform to allow candidates and recruiters to meet.
Virtual career fairs can have many benefits over traditional fairs. They are easier to organize and set up since there are no booths to manage, spaces to rent, or food to supply. Virtual fairs also tend to be significantly less expensive for the same reasons. Less work also means that you can run smaller, more targeted events with little additional effort. And the fact that all candidate/recruiter interactions must take place through a specific platform means it’s easier to track those interactions and find out what worked well and what didn’t for your next event.
Virtual career fairs do have some downsides, though. By definition, candidates and recruiters are separated, so they lack that face-to-face interaction that you get at an in-person event. Forcing every candidate and recruiter to use a new, potentially unfamiliar platform can also lead to lower attendance rates, and technical glitches and internet outages can bring your event to a halt.
Different virtual career fair platforms have different benefits and drawbacks. We’ll outline some of the most common options in the following sections.
Putting on any big event comes with anxiety. One big anxiety with a virtual event is will your candidates and recruiters be able to connect effectively. Will there be any technical issues? Will your candidates and recruiters know how to get in touch with one another?
Career Fair Plus offers the option of letting your candidates sign up for phone conversations with specific recruiters. Each recruiter has a schedule and has a special time set aside to talk to each candidate, ensuring that candidate gets undivided attention. Using a phone is also easy to understand for both candidates and recruiters and is as close to fool-proof as technology can get.
Talking over the phone gives the candidates and recruiters the ability to hear the intention in each other’s voices and get a better idea of who they’re talking to, something that a chat-based option can never do. It’s no replacement for face-to-face communication but stands a close second.
A common option is a text chat-based event. Talking over text is something that almost everyone in the world is very familiar with, and the ability to have chat rooms (similar to those 90’s AOL chat rooms some of us might remember) lets candidates and recruiters interact more organically than they can through specific appointment times. Chat is relatively low-tech, too, so the chances of a technical glitch throwing a wrench in your event are lower than, say, video or a 3D fair.
Of all the options discussed here, though, text chat is the least useful for recruiters trying to get a sense of who the candidate is as a person. Spending a whole day texting with candidates is exhausting for recruiters and is terrible at conveying the meaning that body language and voice intonation can provide and can easily lead to miscommunication and missed opportunities.
We’ve all gotten more acquainted with video conferencing during these last weeks. Video conferencing still isn’t the same as getting to talk to someone face-to-face in the same space, but it’s about as close as we can get.
For a virtual career fair, video conferencing gets candidates and recruiters as close to meeting in person as possible. Some solutions, including Career Fair Plus, offer video “waiting rooms” where candidates can let recruiters know that they want to talk and the recruiter can let candidates in one at a time or in small groups. Video calls can also be appointment-based, just like the phone option.
Video does add a layer of complexity, though. As anyone who’s had a chance to use video conferencing recently can tell you, most platforms can run into issues with not being able to hear people well, bad connections, and issues with compatibility with browsers or with having the correct app downloaded. The hazards of relying on a 3rd-party app that users have to install have been highlighted recently by the security issues uncovered with Zoom. This is why Career Fair Plus uses a simple and straightforward browser-based video solution that’s easy for users to understand and requires no downloading of extra apps or resources.
Virtual 3D fair solutions strive to be as close to the real thing as possible, down to providing candidates with fictional fair maps and “booths” with the different company names that they can interact with. Most platforms offer some combination of text chat and video to communicate with recruiters, and some include other company data available for download, just like picking up a flyer at an employer’s booth.
Although these platforms try hard to feel like attending a real fair, they add a slick-looking layer on top of the data that your candidates need, which may end up getting in the way. All that extra technology and graphics don't come cheap - some platforms cost up to $20,000 per event - and the extra complexity of the platform means more potential for issues during the day of the fair. All the extra resources also means lots of extra set-up and logistics for your team, working with each recruiter to make sure that their virtual “booth” is set up properly.
What Does it All Mean?
You and your staff know your students and recruiters the best, and so you’re in the best position to determine what kind of virtual fair platform is right for you. Hopefully this article has given you a good foundation of what options are out there, where they shine, and where they may cause some headaches.
If you still have questions or would like to see if Career Fair Plus is the right virtual career fair solution for you, we’d love to talk to you! Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.careerfairplus.com and click on the “Learn More” button to reach out and schedule a quick call.