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Are Virtual Career Fairs Worth It?

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

I recently ran a poll on my Put Veterans To Work Linkedin Group asking the members some questions regarding the effectiveness of virtual job fairs, and more specifically, what were the expectations.

66% percent of the participants thought that the fairs lacked the face-to-face personal touch that they had become accustomed to. I agreed with that. Now mind you, only around 200 people responded to this poll and the group is at 8.6k + in membership currently. From where I sit that was not enough members to get a fair sample of what was going on. Some folks feel they are a waste of time because they expected to get an interview or even a job offer. That was their first misconception of the purpose of these events. Others have a more positive response letting me know they did not have any other expectation than networking with company recruiters and asking some questions to get more direction in what to apply to and if their skillset would work within the company. That is the group that is spot on in their expectations.

On top of that as a sourcer myself that attends these fairs, the company I work for requires that the candidates have to apply on their own to a position to get any consideration. We cannot upload resumes or attach candidates to any requisitions. In addition to that directive, if a candidate has not separated from the military they need a signed document from their command permitting us to discuss employment opportunities with them, which we send to them once they apply. The openings that I work on daily are mission-critical to all branches of the service and normally require a specific skill set. So all of the time spent at a virtual fair is for both parties to get some valuable information before moving forward into any hiring process. But the good news is we are there specifically to talk to vets and get them into our hiring process. Our vet population is at 23% currently and 50% of the hires that were sourced by me last year were vets so it was time well spent for us all and I fully anticipate that trend to continue.

Here are some basic facts that make a lot of sense to the companies putting on the fairs and the candidates attending them:

1. Today's technologies online are very efficient and for the most part work well.

2. The candidate and the company save money in many ways including sponsoring or taking part in an event, traveling, meals, and other expenses incurred for company swag and handouts.

3. Less extensive hours for your recruiting team. In 2019 I attended my share of events, around 30, and I would typically work 14-16 hours in addition to lugging around all kinds of paraphernalia to set up and tear down at the end of the fair then have to drive 2-3 hours to get back home and get everything back to the office. Now it's all done from the comfort of a remote office and candidates can attend anywhere as long as they have a laptop or cell phone and access to a wireless connection.

I know the "human" element is missing here to an extent, and that is important however there is also Skype and other platforms for face-to-face meetings which I have attended as well. I think once things get back to a more "normal" (whatever that means now) condition, we can attend both types of fairs.

Keith Hannaleck

March 7, 2021

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