Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Virtual Career Fairs

“Anything that can be done physically can be done virtually.”
Commencing the recruitment breakout sessions, Joe Shaker Jr., Vice President of Shaker Recruitment Consultants, explained the ins and outs of virtual career fairs. While partly a sales pitch for his agency, which helps papers produce a virtual career fair in a 3D environment, Shaker Jr. gave audience members some hard and fast rules for holding their own virtual event.

Commencing the recruitment breakout sessions, Joe Shaker Jr., Vice President of Shaker Recruitment Consultants, explained the ins and outs of virtual career fairs. While partly a sales pitch for his agency, which helps papers produce a virtual career fair in a 3D environment, Shaker Jr. gave audience members some hard and fast rules for holding their own virtual event.

Why host

“Why host a virtual career fair?” you may be asking yourself. Shaker Jr. believes there are many benefits to going virtual. In addition to reduced fees and logistics, it provides job seekers anonymity, thus attracting the passive candidate. This is someone who is already employed but looking for a new career. Due to either scheduling conflicts or the fear of running into a co-worker or boss, they avoid job fairs. However, by putting the event online, they can attend at their own convenience from the safety of their computers. Shaker Jr. mentioned that due to this fact, they’re seeing a higher caliber of candidates. He also added that virtual events are perfect for the medical field — whose work hours are all over the place.

Other reasons to go virtual, include:
• Meet demands for an alternative
• Social Media
• Branding
• Extends market reach
• Extensive metrics and reporting
• “Green”

The only drawback to virtual career fairs? “No tchotchkes,” Shaker Jr. joked. But he said in place of that, exhibitors do raffles or drawings. Basically, do X, Y and Z and enter a drawing to win an iPad.

How to host

When holding a virtual career fair, Shaker Jr. advised keeping it as realistic as possible — leaving it up only one or two days with set times. He also stressed the importance of connectivity; it’s imperative that you allow for interaction and engagement. And, most importantly, allow for easy access to apply online.

Shaker Jr. said that one of the most important components of a career fair — be it virtual or physical — is networking. To add this element to the virtual realm, he relies on chat modules and social media, like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and embeds them into what he dubbed a networking lounge. Within the Shaker Recruiters’ platform, employers can do a real-time résumé search and invite job seekers to come to the booth and chat with you.

My definition of a 30-day virtual career fair: it’s a 30-day job board,” Shaker Jr. responded.

An audience member asked, what if the customers want it to be 30 days? “My definition of a 30-day virtual career fair: it’s a 30-day job board,” Shaker Jr. responded. Additionally, he said for people who want to leave it up for 30 days, try to do a kick-off interactive event on day one and then leave it up for 29 days — which will not have the same interaction, but job seekers can download information and apply.

Shaker Jr.’s keys to hosting a successful virtual career fair:
• Partner with an experienced and trusted provider
• Plan at least two months in advance
• Identify your target audience and develop your marketing strategy early
• Rally the troops from within, from the top to the bottom — everyone needs to understand the benefits
• Analyze your fair metrics (recruiters/company)

Bundle up!

When outlining advertising pricing for your career fair, Shaker Jr. encouraged you to bundle:
• Print – Online – Virtual Career Fair
• Online & Virtual Career Fair
• Virtual Career Fair only

“Why would someone pass up print?” asked an audience member. Shaker Jr. said that there is a perception that print doesn’t work. You can try to overcome their objections, but offer pricing options without print. Shaker Jr. also suggested selling sponsorships to pages like the networking lounge, auditorium and presentations. He said you could sell these packages the same way you would sell a physical event.

What the future holds

Shaker Jr. said that the Internet is an ever-evolving platform, and as virtual career fairs grow, you’ll see more dynamic presentations and interactivity. He predicts an increased use of webcam and video, more interactive presentations and streamlined connectivity to existing databases and API.