While the era we’re living in certainly has its drawbacks, it’s become a great time to set up a virtual career fair. As the pandemic wreaked havoc on in-person events for the past two years, an increasing number of companies turned to hosting virtual events rather than in-person events. Offerings from businesses that provide virtual career platforms and services have had to evolve pretty quickly.
As with any successful project, hosting a virtual hiring event will involve work, focus, and strategy. So: how can you plan and host a virtual career fair most effectively? Read on for tips regarding how to set up your virtual hiring event in the most rewarding way possible.
Step 1: Determine Your Goals for Your Virtual Career Fair
The first step is to articulate your goals and KPIs. We recommend putting those thoughts down on paper. Are you going to focus primarily on lead gen? Employer brand awareness? Are you building your talent pipeline? Is this a direct-hire situation?
Writing down all of your objectives helps make them quantifiable, which in turn helps you identify KPIs and measure progress. So make note of your most important goals: for example, what types of candidates you’d like to attract, and from which markets? How do you plan to engage them? Do you plan to conduct interviews at the event itself? Do you want to make on-the-spot job offers?
Step 2: Develop A Strategy
Now that you know what you want out of your virtual career fair, what features will you need to achieve these newly established goals? For example, will there be an option for clients to upload résumés in advance of the event? You may want a platform that helps you keep track of the relevant résumés you receive via a job board integration.
Once you know what features you’ll require, you’ll need to run a cost-benefit analysis. What’s your budget? What kinds of marketing are you planning to do?
After taking all of the pros and cons into account, estimate what your ROI should realistically be from putting on this event. Does it outweigh the expense and effort that designing and executing the event will require? (Keep in mind that not every “pro” is immediately obvious; e.g., increased attendance may result due to the fact that your event is COVID-safe, doesn’t require masks or a vaccine card, and is available across all time zones.)
Step #3: Choose a Virtual Career Fair Platform
After you’ve run your cost-benefit analysis, you can start exploring your options in a realistic way. What virtual career fair platform is going to meet your wants and needs, without creating chaos for your bottom line?
When you speak with sales representatives and AMs, ask about what features, integrations, amenities, and services they offer. For example, some companies will include white-glove service every step of the way. This white-glove service may include full marketing for your virtual career fair, answering questions you may have, teaching you about best practices, and solving ad-hoc problems on the path to your event. Some services may also include creating a registration page for you and automatically connecting candidates to hiring managers.
It’s important, in this market, to streamline the candidate experience. Those who wish to conduct interviews during their virtual career fair should ask about chat features and scheduling integrations. Can your hiring managers share their candidate evaluations via the platform?
Obviously, UX figures prominently into crafting the best possible candidate experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for live demos of different platforms that you’re seriously considering — and here’s a cheat sheet of important questions you’ll want to make sure you ask during said demos.
Once you’ve figured out what each platform has to offer, you’re equipped to make the ultimate decision and commit to one.
Step #4: Set Up a Virtual Career Fair Registration Page
Once you’ve got all your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed with the paperwork, you can start building your registration page. Your mileage may vary, depending on what platform you’ve selected: if they’re writing the event copy and creating the page for you, you may only need to provide them with basic information, such as the date and time window of your event.
However you go about it, you should end the setup process with an attractive registration page that hits the trifecta of being informative, clear, and easy to navigate. As web traffic begins to drive towards your registration page, you will want your candidates to easily acquire all the information they need to successfully attend your event — not just more obvious information like the date and time, but also the details about what positions are open, the benefits your organization offers, and your company’s core values
Step #5: Promote Your Virtual Career Fair
When you developed your strategy, no doubt you noted the venues through which you’d promote your event. In addition to more traditional promo efforts, such as an email campaign and social media ads, are you going to use leaderboards? Scavenger hunts? Whatever strategy you’ve created, now is the time to begin deployment on the campaign that will drive traffic to your registration page.
Some companies that offer virtual career fair platforms will also build all your marketing campaigns for you, promote your event on multiple channels independently, and even reach out to candidates personally by phone to spark interest in attending your event. Such assistance during the recruitment process will be invaluable.
Step #6: Monitor Analytics Leading Up to the Event
This is one way that holding a virtual career fair can be much more productive for your company — you can gather all kinds of data virtually that you might not be able to gather as easily offline. The performance metrics you’ll be able to record and measure should include registrations, attendees, applications received, chats initiated, as well as information about which sources of advertising drove the most traffic to your registration page.
Stay on top of this information, analyze it in real time, and don’t be afraid to modify your approach as you’re able to, to secure the most exposure for your virtual hiring event!
Step #7: Create a Follow-Up Strategy Before the Event
Follow-up is a crucial aspect of a virtual career fair, so it’s important to have a plan in place as part of your initial strategy.
Of course, you’ll have a lot of data from clicks, downloads, and other information mentioned in item #6; but you should also reach out more personally to job seekers and any partners you may have had in hosting your virtual career fair. Approach each of them individually, to elicit conversational, direct feedback about what their experience of the event was like. You can ask what they most enjoyed or appreciated about the event, as well as request suggestions for improvement.
Some things to consider: Do you plan to use a survey, and if so, what delivery method (email, download, CTA) do you plan to use? What other advancements in talent acquisition technique might be helpful for your particular circumstance?
At the End of the Day, Looking Forward
Hosting a virtual career fair is never just a one-off, if you don’t want it to be. You can use what you learn from this experience to continue augmenting your strategic approach over time.
And in the meanwhile, your own resources, including your company website, can continue quietly laying the groundwork for your next virtual hiring event, by providing details about your company, its values or philanthropies, and what benefits it offers its employees. Other steps — such as hosting podcasts, webinars, guest blogs, or interview videos — can help position you as a thought leader in the industry and drive continued candidate interest to future events.