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IT Insight: Virtual job fairs are the ‘new norm’

With COVID-19 cases waning in some areas of the country, hiring is on the rise. Virtual career fairs have become the norm as a hiring strategy for many companies.

According to Handshake, a career networking platform aimed at college students, 80% of hiring will remain virtual for the foreseeable future. A Gartner poll of 334 human resource leaders recently found that 86% of organizations are incorporating new virtual technology to interview candidates and to onboard new hires. While virtual hiring existed prior to the pandemic, employers have seen COVID-19 as a means for accelerating virtual recruiting overall.

What are the pros of virtual hiring, specifically virtual career fairs, that draw many candidates simultaneously?

Virtual career fairs are far more efficient for employers in many ways. Connecting with more candidates in a shorter time accelerates your search far quicker than telephone or traditional hiring. A larger pool of candidates results in greater opportunity to find the right fit for your position.

The best virtual career fairs are optimized for mobile devices making attendance easy even without a laptop. You can attend and participate from your own couch or favorite location.

The act of participating in or hosting a virtual hiring opportunity strengthens your own company brand as a forward-thinking business. Often, you can sponsor a hiring event or promote your business through online marketing for a far greater reach than listing open positions on your own site.

Virtual career fairs do not require a venue or travel, so they are cost-effective. There are no geographic boundaries. Travel for both recruiters and potential candidates is eliminated. Put an end to the logistics of setting up your booth at a career fair. You’re already there! Many companies have even incorporated virtual tours of their business and introductions to other employees to qualified candidates via virtual meetups.

For job seekers, the wait time one often experiences at live job fairs is nonexistent. No more waiting in line to speak to a prospective employer. In fact, at a virtual event, there are often many candidates and employers engaged at once at a “virtual table.” Top candidates move to the next step faster than through a traditional job fair. One-on-one video chat allows you to share vital contact information with prospective employers live time. Consider this experience a guaranteed face-to-face engagement.

At the most recent NH High Tech Alliance Virtual IT Job Fair over 17 companies interviewed prospective candidates. From IT recruiters, internship opportunities and the private business sector overall attendance was great. Candidates virtually visited with prospective employers freely, moving from “table to table” seamlessly. According to Janel Scheick, director of human resources at PCG, “for a first experience in a Remo (remote collaboration) environment, it was safe and intuitively easy. I had the opportunity to meet many great applicants and receive some promising resumes”.

According to Joshua Cyr, senior director of NH Tech Alliance, “Nothing beats in person conversations when possible. However, that is not always available, and we are pleased to help our membership satisfy 90% of the traditional job fair process in an easy-to- use virtual way. With more and more employers supporting a fully remote environment, employees can be found anywhere. Employers will need to utilize a variety of virtual platforms to attract, meet, interview, and support candidates”.

Market Street Talent’s Director of Business Development Lance Davis stated, “This was Market Street Talent’s second experience attending the NHTA Technology Virtual Job Fair – and a success it was! It was a pleasure to speak with New Hampshire job seekers on the new innovative meeting platform, Remo.”

According to Technical Recruiting Manager Kelsey Kane, “The virtual job fair offered a comfortable and inviting setting, helping to connect candidates near and far with top clients in the Seacoast. As a much less intimidating way to expand your network, Market Street Talent encourages all job seekers to see what opportunities virtual job fairs can offer.”

From Julie Demers, executive director of NH Tech Alliance who hosted the event: “Workforce development and access to diverse tech talent pipelines remains a top priority for our membership. We’re thrilled to be able to offer virtual job fairs as an efficient and innovative opportunity to connect employers and talent.”

All said, virtual job fairs are a convenient, effective way to network and explore career opportunities. Certainly, they will remain an asset in sourcing talent in today’s business environment.

JoAnn Hodgdon is vice president and co-founder of Portsmouth Computer Group (PCGiT) with her husband David. PCG provides comprehensive managed IT services, business continuity, security, cloud computing and Virtual CIO services to their clients. You may reach her at joann@pcgit.com or at www.pcgit.com.