Career Fairs May Have a Virtual Future

by Erin Canetta

17 April, 2013

In a time when people seem to be getting less face-to-face centered and more technology driven, I’m glad to see the traditional career fair is not a thing of the past … yet! We just finished working on a two month long endeavor to successfully market a career fair. We had weekly calls with two recruiters. This was nice because we all got to know each other better with each call. We learned a lot from them and they learned a lot from us and it was a great team project.

Registration for the career fair was very good and it was a successful event. One can read resumes and emails and try to know what a person is like, but a career fair offers that instant knowledge to the recruiters if someone would be a good fit for their organization. Conversely, the recruiters are wonderful people and if you meet them, why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that organization? So as much as we can do to market the event, it’s the people who already belong to the organization who are the greatest sales tool. If you can get them in front of your potential candidates then the pull to join your organization is succinct.

That said, we just worked our first virtual career fair. It took a fraction of the time to work on and by far fewer people. Candidates will view videos rather than talk to someone and they’ll have hundreds to choose from. The pool of candidates is ridiculously larger for the virtual career fair but so is the number of hiring companies. How do you connect to that candidate who best suits your organization? Is it saving time on the front end but creating time on the interviewing and ultimately the human resource end? Is it cheating all people involved out of a learning experience?

It’s a new concept so I haven’t drawn an absolute opinion, but I just don’t know how a virtual career fair rivals an in-person event. It’s faster, it’s cheaper, your pool is far greater, but you lose that valuable opportunity for your people to get in front of a potential candidate and make an impression. You lose that connection that says you have the right person in front of you. I remember a few years ago working on a virtual trade show. That didn’t last. Ultimately, people want to get their hands on the product and meet the organization. It’s my feeling career fairs are the same. You can get around human contact a lot of the time but you can’t replace it all of the time.