Job Fairs exist to provide both job seekers and employers a convenient place to get access to a large number of what they are looking for -- jobs or qualified people. During the pandemic this process became even more convenient and scaled to provide more access to people and companies as these events moved online.
Like every organization, Job Fair organizers had to make a quick shift in March 2020 to move their events online. From canceling physical venues to choosing an online platform, these organizations were able to get up and running in a matter of weeks. Virtual Job Fairs generally allow visitors to click on a company's "booth" and read through material on their work, benefits, and open opportunities. Conversations typically begin with a text chat and can be elevated into a video chat with just a click for more in depth discussions.
While the logistics of moving to a virtual event proved to be relatively seamless for job fair organizers, they found that participants needed a bit more guidance and training to take full advantage of the new medium. Job Fairs began developing training in the form of written materials, videos, and live sessions. Some training was needed to provide tactical tips on how to navigate the new platforms. Other training provided guidance on best practices for interacting online with tips around how to "talk" in a chat, how to set up your background to be prepared for video calls, and (for employers) tactics to attract more people to their online booth. Tips for best practices for Job Fairs (whether online or in-person) were also re-introduced including doing homework on the companies and positions available before attending the event, and prioritizing visits to employers.
"You can't take for granted that people will feel comfortable interacting online," said Rob Riggins, marketing director, ClearedJobs.Net. "We've had great response to our training courses helping people not only with the tech aspect but with the preparation and communication best practices."
Embracing the Convenience of Virtual
Online Job Fairs got high marks for convenience and efficiency from job seekers and companies alike. Being able to "attend" the event virtually was a huge savings in time and money for recruiting teams who could meet with dozens of candidates from anywhere in the country in just several hours. The text chat format allowed some job seekers to talk to more companies than they would have in-person.
"The turnout at the online events has been great," commented Bradford Rand, founder and CEO of TechExpo. "We've increased our advertising to get more people registered, and those who register are attending at great rates."
Even with all of the acceptance of online Job Fairs, there are some advantages to being in-person. With this in mind, in-person job fairs will be making a comeback in the fall of 2021 with a majority coming back in 2022. Look for some online features to be present at these in-person events like automated check-ins and paperless resume sharing.
While virtual events have their advantages, there are some areas where in-person can be more effective," said Susan Savino, vice president, Corporate Gray. "At an in-person event you can see the length of the lines and gauge the waiting time to talk to someone. Online, it can feel like you're being forgotten on hold. For recruiters, the in-person engagement allows you to build a more personal relationship and sense for how that candidate might fit in the company that is absent in virtual text conversations."
To meet the desire for both options, many in-person events will be supplemented with an online option on a date before or after the physical event. Organizers will be closely monitoring participation and reactions across these hybrid offerings to determine the right long term mix.
Here's a list of some upcoming Job Fairs, both in-person and online.
- ClearedJobs.Net (September 9, 2021; Linthicum, MD) -- Security cleared professionals with a CI or FS polygraph are invited!
- TECHEXPO Polygraph-Only Virtual Hiring Event (August 12, 2021; online) -- Defense employers looking to hire cleared individuals. A CI, Lifestyle or Full-Scope Polygraph is required.
- Military Hiring Conference (August 20, 2021; Seattle, WA) -- Access to the best military job seekers, selected specifically for attendees' open positions. Candidates will be interviewed in a private and professional setting.
- Corporate Gray Virtual Military-Friendly Job Fair (September 24, 2021; online) -- This event provides military-experienced job seekers the opportunity to interview with employers nationwide via text and video chats.
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