Going Virtual With a Career Fair

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Apr 1, 2020
This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.

We’re living in strange times. Hiring the right candidates is challenging enough without a national crisis, but especially now, recruiters have it tough. As a result, many are turning to virtual events.

Of course, you probably already know that, because everyone everywhere is turning to virtual everything. Yet despite not being able to hold in-person events, your goal remains the same: hire the best talent. Meanwhile, recruiters everywhere are also scrambling to provide a stellar candidate experience in these unprecedented times of uncertainty.

So if you’re considering hosting a virtual career fair — and you probably should be — here are four ways to ensure your event is a success:

1. Highlight the Human Connection

Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge of holding events online is the risk of losing human connection. After all, how can we build relationships without shaking hands and making eye contact?

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to focus on human connection and get results from your events. You can start by personalizing your email invitations. It’s OK to use some form of automation or mass email, but make sure you are leading with the person’s name and customizing it to the role the person would be interested in.

You should also make emails a reflection of your company’s brand by infusing messaging that brings out your organization’s personality. My favorite way to accomplish this is by using the “write-like-you-speak” (or how an exemplar of your company would speak) technique to really make a connection.

Lastly, it can be really easy to hide behind text-based chats, but after a while, texting can come across as lukewarm, at best. If you really want to stand out, consider adding video to your events. This can be as simple as a video presentation at the beginning of the event where you have a hiring manager share details about your company, culture, and values. 

Indeed, videos are an especially terrific way to bolster your employer branding. Unfortunately, many employers make videos without thinking about what candidates want to know, or use the same videos for years.

Keep in mind that job-seekers prefer to watch videos of hiring managers and see employee-generated content, as opposed to recruiter videos. Also, use candidate personas when planning video content, and update your videos based on candidate feedback.

2. Marketing Is Half the Battle

Just because you build a virtual hiring event doesn’t mean that candidates will come. Marketing is half the battle. 

Email is often the primary method for promoting a virtual career fair, and it can yield excellent results if you create a targeted list of invitees from your candidate database. Re-engaging former candidates is always the lowest hanging fruit, but it’s one you should definitely grab! 

You should also promote your events via your social-media channels. Start a few weeks or a month before the event, and post multiple times to increase the chances that the right job-seekers will learn about it. 

At the same time, be sure to post about your event on your careers site, which can entail leveraging a chatbot and highlighting the event on job-specific pages.

3. User-Friendliness Is the Other Half

This should be a no-brainer…yet many employers are still hosting virtual career fairs that aren’t easy to join or participate in. The most successful events are mobile-friendly and simple for candidates to join with a single click. After all, it’s important to make the job hunt as painless as possible.

It doesn’t end there, though. To truly create a frictionless experience for candidates, prepare them in advance by explaining the purpose and structure of your event before it starts. Additionally, communicate with candidates about how to get help before, during, and after your event if they have questions or technical issues.

Lastly, don’t go live until you host a practice event for your team. That’s the best way to validate what works and uncover what doesn’t. What is confusing? What needs more explanation? Candidate experience matters now just as much as it did before the pandemic. Make sure you are on the top of your game!

4. Continue the Conversation

Following up with candidates is also essential. If your hiring managers weren’t part of your event, you should connect them with top candidates right after to engage people and keep them in your pipeline.

This will also seem self-evident, but it’s sometimes amazing how often employers forget to do this: Email attendees after your event, thank them for their time, and include a feedback survey. Also communicate next steps to candidates whom you’d like to move forward. Consistent, transparent communication helps ensure a great candidate experience.

Ultimately, we don’t know how long we’ll be recruiting in a world of social distancing, but even when it’s safe to gather again, virtual career fairs should remain a big part of your conversational recruiting strategy. Continue honing your process and look for new ways to build relationships with candidates.

This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.
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