Why Are You Attending an Online Career Event?
Before you sign up to attend an online career event or fair, you should take a step back to reflect and understand why exactly you want to participate in one. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? Do you
- need to fill open positions
- want to generate general brand awareness
- want to be exposed to the top talents in the market
- want to start building your employer brand?
Also, think about the target audience you want to reach. By defining your goals and the target audience first, you can ensure that you pick the right format and event, hence optimizing your return.
How To Identify And Pick The Right Virtual Career Event
Secondly, it’s important to look for the right event. You can easily find dozens of online career fairs out there, but you should look for the one that best matches your pre-defined requirements and goals. Since you are not limited by geographical boundaries, it shouldn't be too difficult to find.
However, here are some of the factors you should take into consideration when making your decision:
- The focus: Who is the event targeting, both in terms of attendees as well as companies? Do you fit in?
- The formats: What formats does the event offer? Is it only a standard career fair with booths or are there better and more interactive ways to engage with the participants?
- The size: Is the event a mass-event that has thousands of unregistered attendees or is there a limit on the number of attendees and companies?
- The attendees: Who are the attendees, and what backgrounds and seniorities do they have? What is the quality of the attendees going to be?
- The organizer: Who is the organizer of the online event? Is it a professional organizer or a student association and/or group? Do they have experience or is it the first time they are organizing this event? Which platform are they using for their event?
- The character of the online event: Is the event exclusive and by invite-only or open to anyone? Do the attendees need to go through an application process or can anyone just register and join?
How To Strategize and Plan for the Online Career Event
After you have decided which online event you’d like to attend and before the event will take place, you should start preparing for it. Here is a short overview of what to keep in mind and plan for:
1. Plan your virtual career event participation
- When: As soon as you confirm your participation
- What: Start with the different formats the event offers - which formats will you be taking part in? What do you need to plan and organize in advance? Since the event will take place online, make sure that you become familiar with using the career event platform of your choice.
2. Get your colleagues involved and on board for the online career event
- When: After you have completed the initial plan
- What: Once you know the different formats and program points you need to cover, think about the internal resources you need to involve for the event. Start reaching out to your colleagues, get their buy-in and block their calendars in advance.
3. Plan the content for the online career event
- When: After you have completed the initial plan
- What: Get involved in the detailed planning of your company’s participation in the event. If you have the opportunity to pitch your company or hold a keynote, talk about the vision and mission that the company is trying to accomplish. If you can give a workshop, use it to make the talents feel like they’re already part of your team by showing them what working on an exciting project would look like. If you only have a virtual stand to be present at, make sure to prepare and share briefing/talking points with your colleagues. Focus on showing real insights into your company in every format you take part in.
One thing to keep in mind - make sure to be as engaging as ever. The online format offers numerous distractions to the already short attention spans of most participants next to providing the effortless ability to leave your session at any point without awkward stares.
If you participate in a virtual booth format, think about how you can get attention of the participants. Now, the traditional physical merchandise rules go out of the window. In the online world, you'll need to attract the participants in other ways - good audio and video quality, professional microphones and camera is always a good starting point.
4. Booth and merchandise for the online career event
- When: 2-4 weeks before the event
- What: Think about how you can best prepare for the online event. The most important aspect is that everything runs smoothly from a technical perspective - that means testing everything out well in advance.
You should also be aware that the online format tips the popularity scale to the most well-known companies even more. A few of the really famous brands tend to get a large chunk of the participants while the majority of companies have to deal with decreased participant flows. That's why you must be extra prepared to seal the deal with the right participant online whenever you have the chance.
5. Final alignment before the online career event
- When: One week before the event
- What: Before the event takes place, you should get everyone on the same call or in the same room to discuss the structure, strategy and to do’s for the event, as well as the technical requirements to make sure everyone is ready to go. This will help you create critical alignment and have everyone on the same page.
How To Maximize Your Output from the Virtual Career Event
As always, there are typical Do's and Don’ts to maximize the output and opportunities of such an event.
Involve colleagues from other teams and not just HR
The attendees want to learn more about the people and opportunities at your company through varied and personal insights. Their questions are going to expand beyond your recruiting and hiring processes, and you want to be able to provide actual insights, so you should bring a diverse set of colleagues (and not just your HR team). This should be accomplished more easily in a virtual environment.
Make it personal and avoid the statement “check our website”
Attendees join the online event to learn about you, your company, and get a feeling if they would fit in. Telling an attendee to “check the website” makes the whole point of e-meeting and engaging with attendees redundant. Worst still, this response is perceived very negatively by most attendees. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are looking for, and provide honest answers and useful insights. Remember, you are trying to engage with the generation that values personalization and authenticity above anything else.
Make it interactive and don’t just pitch or sell your company
If the online recruiting event offers you the chance to be actively involved in different program formats and not just have a booth, make sure you’re not just repeating the standard facts about your company or singing praises about your organization. Actually “open your doors” and take the students and job seekers on a journey into your company and why you personally enjoy working there. Nobody likes to be bombarded with sales pitches - the participants are attending the event to get a “behind the scenes” insight to see if they can envision themselves as part of your team.
Gather useful data and don’t get overwhelmed
Use the chance to engage with the attendees at the online event directly as the first touchpoint in a long-term relationship. Don’t waste this opportunity: If you don’t get the attendee information and CVs from the organizer, and even if it’s quite a lot of work, you should try to collect as much data as possible from suitable attendees during the event yourself. On top of that, you may receive post-event engagement metrics from the organizer which would help to understand which parts of your online presence did better than others.
Do The Necessary Homework
At the end of the day, participating in an online recruiting event and meeting participants is only the first part of the job. Keeping the promises you made during the event, such as follow-up emails with a little thank you note and the open positions you are trying to fill, are just as important. These little gestures go a long way and they will help you to stand out from the crowd and lead to higher conversion rates down the road.
Lastly, after the post-event follow-ups are completed, you should gather your team together to reflect and analyze the results of the online event. Benchmark the results against your initial goals to see if the event participation was actually successful. Keep in mind, the benchmark results online may significantly differ from the numbers you are used to seeing offline.