A Job Fair From Your Armchair? – Holding a Virtual Job Fair Can Have Prospects Lining Up…Online

May 21, 2000

If the phrase “attend a job fair” conjures up images of shackles and solitary confinement–not to mention long hours away from the office–don’t despair. A properly planned virtual job fair can give you the opportunity to meet prospective candidates without subjecting yourself to ?booth-a-phobia.? As with any event, planning is key. Select a time when the optimum number of prospects is likely to attend the online event. Consider a Saturday morning, for example. Make sure you have staff available to answer the phone during the fair hours and respond to email inquiries. And don’t forget to advertise the event using the best resources your budget will allow. You can throw the greatest party ever, but if no one knows about it, it’s not likely to be a success. Remember the invitations. Just how do you get the word out? You can and should advertise the virtual job fair at your Web site. Banners at relevant sites can also help increase the number of attendees. But don’t overlook traditional media. An ad in the local newspaper, particularly if the base for which you’re recruiting is the local market, can announce the virtual job fair’s time and online location. Design an eye-catching display ad and run it in the help wanted section of the newspaper. Serious job hunters, as well as those just browsing, tend to look at the Sunday help wanted section. It makes sense, then, that the Sunday prior to your fair would be a good time to advertise. Because people tend to need reminding, you might also run an ad the day before the event. Radio spots are another possibility. Keep in mind that saturation is key with radio, and that drive-time radio commercials reach the most listeners. It’s best to run several spots one or two days prior to the event, rather than spread them out over a longer period of time. More costly, but effective if you’re recruiting for a particular industry, are trade publications. Be aware, however, that these kinds of publications often require long lead-times. Another way to notify potential candidates about your virtual job fair is via direct mail marketing. Although direct mail tends to be expensive, a cleverly designed postcard can make this form of advertising more economical, and sending it to a select target audience can increase its effectiveness. Holding a virtual job fair will require some planning and attention to detail on your part, but there are places that can assist you with your online event. If you’re looking to recruit high-tech professionals, you might want to consider teaming up with BrassRing. Job fairs–traditional and otherwise–appear in the BrassRing Career Events Schedule. The list reads like a calendar of events, by location and in date order, which makes it easy to reference. And with 1.7 million visitors to their website each month, BrassRing offers you the chance to reach a large, though highly select, audience. Pricing for using BrassRing’s service varies, based on the number of jobs advertised. When you’re planning your first virtual job fair, it can also be helpful to look at how others do it. A search for virtual job fairs at Dogpile provides a list of documents to explore. Depending on where you live, or the area for which you’re recruiting, you might be able to take advantage of utilizing or linking to a virtual job fair site specific to your region. To see if there are existing virtual job fair sites for your market, use AltaVista’s Advanced Search, and in the “Boolean Query” field, key in “virtual job fair” AND your city. A recent search for “virtual job fair” AND Tampa turned up a listing entitled “GVA Virtual Job Fair on Gateway Virginia.” Virginia? Remember, on the Web, as in life, things aren’t always as they appear. Because it was the first Web page listed, it seemed like it might be promising…and it was. The Richmond-Times Dispatch and its sister newspaper, The Tampa Tribune, were each sponsoring spring virtual job fairs. If Tampa were your market, you would have uncovered a possible venue for your event. Virtual job fairs are catching on. They’re convenient for candidates. And from a recruiting standpoint there are also advantages. Proper planning can ensure that job fair attendees are online to visit you. And, perhaps best of all, when you hold a virtual job fair, there’s a new found freedom–a freedom to think and move outside the box.