Job fair attendees generally fare better in their career search than non-attendees. Part of this could be self-selection: people who attend job fairs are more motivated to find jobs than people who do not.
Still, the job fair remains an essential part of the early-career process for companies and candidates alike.
The pandemic may have made it more difficult for employers and potential employees to meet, but job fairs have by no means stopped. Virtual career events surged in 2020, and candidates report they generally found them to be helpful.
We recently conducted a study of several hundred virtual job fair attendees to gather their impressions on the effectiveness and worthwhileness of virtual job fair attendance.
We learned that students believed their attendance helped in their job searches. Many received at least one offer of a job or internship, and most made it to a one-on-one interview stage with at least one company.
Not all job fairs had the same level of success.
Students and recent graduates had plenty of opinions regarding what separates a bad virtual event from a good one. With that research in mind, here are some of our top tips to ensure your next virtual job event goes as well as possible.
Keep it under an hour
More than half of respondents in our study said 30 minutes to one hour is the ideal length of time for a virtual job event to last. About a third of respondents said one to three hours is ideal, but given the preference for the shorter time, it’s likely respondents would prefer events last closer to one hour than three. Know how you want to run your event, keep a clear schedule, and make it easy for attendees to get in and make strong connections quickly and easily.
Ask common questions
Students come with a variety of questions, but they don’t always ask the same ones. Gen Z especially wants to know more about how companies handle development of a more diverse workforce and how companies work to create a better world. Businesses solely in search of profit may have a hard time attracting the best Gen Z talent. Recruiters and company representatives should be ready for questions such as:
- Can students add reps on social media, not just LinkedIn?
- How did the people representing the company get their start in this field?
- Where should students focus their studies/internships to reach their goals?
- What is the company culture like, especially for people of minority groups (LGBT+, race, etc.)
- What kind of opportunities are available right now, and what opportunities may open up in the future?
After the event ends, the engagement with candidates shouldn’t. Make sure attendees know what comes next, whether that’s a one-on-one interview, a job offer, a skills test, or even a rejection for the moment. Nothing sours a candidate’s opinion on a potential employer like silence. Reach out to everyone who attended to thank them for their engagement, solicit any additional questions, and offer next steps. Even for people who don’t receive an offer or interview opportunity, a bit of advice can go a long way.
Gen Z is a socially conscious generation. They don’t want to work for companies that do not honor their obligations to bridge societal divides. Our research found that candidates were more likely to be polarized on whether events did a good job of being inclusive with regard to race than they were to be polarized about the same question regarding gender. Design career events with this in mind. Bring a diverse group of company representatives (without relying on tokenization) and recognize that students will judge the company based on more than just salaries and benefits.
Virtual events will continue to play a major role in recruiting for the foreseeable future. Candidates may not be able to travel to every event, but they can always use a smartphone or laptop to attend a virtual event from anywhere in the world. Companies looking to get more from virtual events should be ready to answer some hard questions and follow up with attendees after the event ends.