The rise of virtual career fairs began even before the pandemic, but now more than ever, they can be a crucial tactic for attracting new applicants. Virtual career fairs are money-savers too—you don’t need to pay for booth space, supplies, or travel costs. Setting up and hosting a virtual career fair can be confusing when it’s your first time, so we’re showing you how to get started in just three easy steps!
1. Select a Virtual Job Fair Platform
There are many different virtual job fair platforms to choose from, and they range from full job fair simulations to simple video-chatting. There are many full-service (and very impressive) platforms (such as Brazen and vFairs) that allow you to create fully customized and feature-rich virtual job fairs if you want to host a large-scale recruiting event. These platforms are purpose-built for virtual career fairs for large crowds, so they can be a bit pricy ($15,000 per event or $50,000 for annual licenses), but the experience is immersive and seamless.
We have also listed several more budget-friendly virtual job fair favorites below, so you can choose the one that is right for your needs and budget.
Brazen is a software company that helps build virtual event experiences. They offer solutions for different needs like video chat room interviews, live video broadcasting, and text-based chat rooms where you can talk to multiple candidates at once. Brazen also tailors its product for different industries like colleges & universities, HR teams, government organizations, and job boards.
- Price: Not provided by vendor
- Pros: Provides different solutions for different organizations; tracks metrics and performance; allows for multiple points of contact with candidates
- Cons: Messaging with candidates is timed; candidates can join multiple chat rooms which can create long wait times
vFairs is very different from other virtual job fair platforms. Their software creates a virtual simulation of a job fair. This option is pricier than others, but it gives you the closest feel to an in-person career fair. You can host a job fair for just your company, or put together a fair with a few different companies.
- Price: Starts at $14,925 for a single event license
- Pros: Virtual simulation of a job fair provides the closest experience to an in-person fair; tracks metrics and performance; multiple points of contact with candidates (video conferencing, private web chats, etc); presentation tools
- Cons: Price; time-consuming to set up event utilizing all features; newer platform that is still developing
Zoom is very budget-friendly (and free in limited situations) and the most commonly used video conference platform in America. Zoom won’t give you insight & analytics on how well the fair is going, but you can host many people in video chat rooms. Zoom can give you the closest feeling of meeting up in person for the fair, and if you host rooms for less than 40 minutes than you can use the program for free.
- Price: Free for timed chats up to 40 minutes; unlimited meeting duration starts at $14.99/month
- Pros: Host up to 100 participants; share your screen to host a presentation; offers both web conferences and video conferences
- Cons: Does not track metrics and performance; not intentionally created for virtual job fairs
Google Hangouts is a free communication software that comes with your Gmail account. You can use Google Hangouts for video conferencing, messaging, and phone calls. Their video conferences allow up to 100 people, and the calls allow for up to a 10-person group call.
- Price: Free
- Pros: No time limit on video conferencing; if you have a Gmail account then your Hangouts account is already set up, and allows for up to 100 users in a video conference
- Cons: Does not track performance; not initially created for online job fairs
GoToMeeting does video conferencing, but a cool feature that they have is GoToWebinar. With GoToWebinar you can host events, like an online job fair. This feature also tracks attendance and performance for your event.
- Price: Starts at $14/month
- Pros: Tracks metrics and performance; base plan allows for 150 users in a video conference; has a smart assistant that detects action items and highlights them in a meeting
- Cons: Newer platform so they’re still working out some kinks; takes up a lot of bandwidth; no free option
2. Advertise Your Career Fair
Typically, when you sign up for a booth at a career fair, you don't need to do the advertising. The school or company hosting the fair takes care of the majority of that work for you. But now that you’re putting together your own fair, you need people to know about it!
Facebook & Instagram
The best way to reach the largest audience is through Facebook and Instagram Ads. With social media advertising, you create the ad, choose objectives and an audience, then set the campaign budget and duration. Facebook also helps you track your ad's performance in real time, so if you feel that it isn’t working, you can edit your campaign settings.
Another way to advertise your career fair is on LinkedIn. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn has a Campaign Manager where you can set your budget and build the audience that you want to see the ad. A unique feature of LinkedIn is that you can create personalized messages that are sent to LinkedIn members who are engaged with your content.
Digital Papers & Magazines
If you know that your target audience (people you want to employ) is reading a specific newspaper, you can pay to advertise your job opening with their online “paper.” While physical delivery of newspapers has decreased significantly in the last 15 years, online readership is quite popular, particularly with millennials.
Local High Schools, Trade Schools & Universities
If you used to exhibit at career fairs at local schools (or have been thinking about it) connect with them about advertising your career fair in their student newsletters. They can send out invitations via email to their student lists for a very relevant, targeted event.
Employee Word of Mouth
Your employees know great people! Create a Facebook event on your company page and include a PDF with the details of your career fair. Encourage employees (and all other fans of your Facebook page) to send a digital invitation to their friends and family. Post that same flyer around your office and shop, and mention the career fair at company meetings so employees can invite friends and family. Print off extra copies of the flyer for employees to pass along to anyone who might be interested.
3. Measure Your Success
If you go with a more full-featured virtual career fair platform like vFairs or Brazen, they will set and measure goals for you. If you decide to go a different route, you want to make sure you outline what your key measures of success are going to be so you know what’s working and what isn’t for the next go-round. Here are a few metrics to think about and measure:
- How many people signed up for your fair?
- How many people attended your fair?
- How many people were qualified for the fair?
- How many people interviewed after the fair?
- How many people did you hire from the fair?
These metrics will let you know what to adjust for your next fair so you can make adjustments and continue to optimize for the most cost effective approach.
Looking for other ways to get more candidates in your pipeline? Download our checklist for five ways to get more qualified applicants in the trades and other blue-collar industries.