With the increasing digitization of everything from fridges to classrooms, it may come as no surprise that another once-physical aspect of the job search has a new, online-only alternative: the online job fair.
But why go online for hosting a job fair? Here, we break down some of the major aspects to consider this increasingly common phenomenon.
What is an Online Job Fair?
An online job fair is, at its core, exactly what it sounds like: a job fair that takes place online. Often, online job fairs exist in digital spaces that closely mimic what a real job fair would look like: a large hall or various rooms containing virtual “booths” for each company or recruiter.
More rudimentary interfaces could simply have a list of companies and available positions in place, as well as a list of attendees complete with CVs and the ability to start a live chat or even a video call. Depending on the software chosen and the money spent (we’ll get to that later), more or less functionality and pleasing design could be available.
Online job fairs usually function like normal job fairs in that they last for a specific amount of time, whether for a few hours or a few days. Known as “Evergreen Job Fairs,” certain virtual fairs remain open indefinitely but are typically less effective and more difficult to capitalize on.
Online job fairs incur certain costs that aren’t present in physical career fairs, but also tend to eliminate some of the most expensive elements of their real-life counterparts. This makes them generally more cost-effective.
The most expensive parts of hosting an online job fair are the technological aspects. The software in question takes a lot of money and effort to perfect, and so the best virtual environments that offer flexibility and great chat tools can be decently expensive.
In addition to the initial hosting and software packages, you’ll want to invest in an event manager or some sort of live support staff to help you, the featured businesses, and the attendees out in case anything goes wrong or they have questions. Complex virtual environments are usually not something that your average in-house IT support will be comfortable with.
Lastly, to reap the benefits of hosting a job fair to the fullest (stay tuned), it’s a good idea to invest in analytics and data gathering during the event, which will cost some more as well. Given all these features, you’ll probably start your online job fair budget at about $8000, according to vFairs.
However, this is about the same amount you might spend just on the venue alone for a physical career fair, not to mention AV support, physical insurance, staffing, food, etc. In-person job fairs end up being three to four times as expensive as online fairs. Although they have certain advantages, physical career fairs also have limitations that online fairs do not.
Benefits for Businesses and Job Seekers
The benefits of online career fairs for showcased businesses and job seekers include most of those of in-person events and more.
Because of the availability of live chat and even webcam meetings, not much is lost as far as employee-employer interaction is concerned. Instead, employers have much easier real-time access to job seekers’ resumes and qualifications, and those job seekers have more immediate access to a potential employer’s reviews and background.
The lack of reliance on physical space means that both parties can have more options to choose from, as well as having reduced wait times. Instead of staffing their virtual booth with a maximum of two people that can fit behind it, companies have the option of engaging in live chat with many interested individuals at once without being rude or overwhelming their staff. Instead of hiring trade show models to attract candidates, companies only have to pay for the time spent engaging with people directly.
Locational convenience is the primary benefit that makes online job fairs superior to physical ones in the eyes of many. As the world is becoming more and more connected, a company’s next best employee may live far away but be willing to relocate. By only hosting physical career events, companies close themselves off from talent that lives further than a certain distance away.
This benefit extends to job seekers who can have a more personal and direct interaction with recruiters and employers that are far away, and don’t have to spend money on hotels and transportation. An event staffing agency looking to hire in multiple cities doesn’t need to attend 40 career fairs: instead, they can tout their national reach at a single online event.
Benefits for You
Now that we’ve discussed the costs of hosting an online job fair and the benefits to attendees and involved companies, what’s left? The benefits to the hosts, of course.
Hosting an online job fair can actually be a financially sound investment that does more than connect employers with employees. Not only can you prioritize yourself and gain access to a large pool of talent if your business is hiring as well, but you can make a profit in several ways.
First, selling virtual booth space can be lucrative. This virtual space doesn’t cost you that much more per company, so you may be able to include more companies in total that will pay you for their involvement. Just remember that no company will want to recruit in an incredibly crowded and diluted field, and too many booths may overwhelm virtual attendees.
You can also charge more for various perks and add-ons for each company. These can include the ability to search through all the resumes submitted to the fair, as well as being able to reach out directly to candidates instead of waiting for them to come to the booth. Live chat should be available to all recruiters, but you can charge extra for video chat services or direct audio calls.
If your online job fair is well attended, you may also have interested advertisers that want to place banners or a virtual billboard on your virtual environment. This can be a great revenue stream, but again make sure not to clutter your environment excessively.
Lastly, a unique way to make money from online job fairs that are not possible with their physical counterparts is analyzing and selling the data generated from such an event. As outlined here, this data may include a list of contact info, resumes, CVs, and other useful info. In addition, companies in attendance will value statistics on how long people spent viewing their booth, either deciding to engage or not, and which interactions proved most valuable.
All of this data can be sold to participating companies post-event for more profit, and in total all this revenue will more than offset the cost of hosting, without potentially having to charge job seekers anything to attend.
Overall, online job fairs provide a lot of benefits to employers, job seekers, and hosts in turn.
By providing the same functions of a standard physical job fair but bypassing many of the restrictions imposed by physical venues, virtual career events attract many high-quality employers and candidates.
The costs, although different and unique to virtual event hosting, tend to be much less than those of an in-person event. Most of a host’s investment will go towards software and servicing during the time of the event. Savings include not paying for a physical venue, physical materials, audio-visual services, and in-person staff.
The benefits to attendees are multifold. Primarily online job fairs end up being cheaper for everyone involved due not only to the reduced hosting cost that doesn’t need to be offset but also travel and hotel costs. Additionally, the lack of a centralized location lets recruiters pick from candidates all over the world who fit their needs and skillsets, and vice versa for job seekers.
Finally, virtual job fairs can benefit hosts more than just via positive brand exposure. By leveraging data gathered from these events, charging a sensible amount for virtual booth space and features, and utilizing some advertising, you can turn a profit whilst providing a service for the job market.