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June 28, 2021 Virtual Career Fairs: How to Attract Members and Boost Revenue Steve Longo

Virtual Career Fairs: How to Attract Members and Boost Revenue

In this day and age, everything is virtual. We have virtual meetings via Zoom and Microsoft Teams. We attend virtual conferences, go to virtual doctor appointments and hold virtual job interviews.  

So why not have a virtual career fair? 

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of recruiting in many ways, causing massive disruption in a short amount of time. Fortunately, associations can leverage at least some of these changes to their advantage by embracing virtual career fairs to both attract new members and boost their revenue. With one in four workers globally looking to change jobs in 2021, it’s an opportunity that associations can’t afford to pass up.  

But just what are online career fairs? How do they work? What benefits do they offer for associations? We take a detailed look at all of that and more here.  

How Madgex Can Help

Looking to host a virtual career fair? Madgex is here to help. Madgex is well placed to facilitate engaging & high-yielding virtual career fairs for your professional audience via our partner network. Combining the expertise of Madgex & Wiley in online recruitment and virtual events, our solution includes strategic guidance & support, custom employer sponsorship packaging, direct sales & employer marketing to ensure your next virtual career fair is effectively monetized while providing employers a new way to engage your professional community.

What is a Virtual Career Fair? 

Virtual career fairs are online events in which professionals and employers meet up virtually using webinars, chatrooms, webcasts, teleconferences and email exchanges to discuss job openings and career opportunities.  

Jobseekers and professionals looking to advance their career can upload their resumes to be matched with employers or simply browse their virtual “booths” for information, just like an in-person career fair. Rather than simply reviewing resumes, hiring managers can virtually meet these jobseekers and professionals to learn more about them.  

Many different types of organizations hold virtual career fairs, including professional associations, individual companies, employment agencies, colleges and the like. Since the COVID-19 outbreak hit in early 2020, virtual career fairs have become increasingly commonplace.  

How Do Virtual Career Fairs Work? 

In many cases, employers buy branded digital booths where they can advertise their company information, job opportunities, marketing materials and other relevant information. Jobseekers then visit these booths during virtual job fair events to learn more about prospective employers. Overall, they allow professionals to find jobs and grow their networks and for employers to acquire new talent, often with an association or other sponsoring organization as the facilitator for everything.  

Generally, online career fair participants register upon entering, upload their resume and fill out questionnaires based on their professional experience and interests. Then, they’re matched with relevant companies based on their answers, allowing them to explore new opportunities quickly and easily.  

Most information at online career fairs can be taken in at an individual pace, though there may be presentations, webinars and chats with specific individuals at designated times. In addition, virtual career fairs often offer additional resources for professionals, including quizzes, resume tips, interview tips and more.  

What are Some Benefits of Virtual Career Fairs? 

For associations, hosting a digital career fair offers many benefits. A few of these include: 

  • Attracting new members by providing value and positioning your association as a leader in its industry 
  • Boosting non-dues revenue, including from employer booth sales and exclusive advertising rights 
  • Driving engagement with members 
  • Giving your association key insight into the career goals, demographics and jobseeker status of your members 
  • Offering new opportunities for employers in your industry to connect with your members  

How to Host a Virtual Career Fair 

Interested in hosting your own virtual career fair? Be sure to follow these steps! 

1. Create a Budget, Time and Goals 

First off, start with the basics by determining your event’s budget, time and ultimate goals. Plan out how much your association is willing to invest in a digital jobs fair, when exactly it’ll take place and what your association hopes to get out of it. This is also a good time to start seriously thinking about which employers you’ll want to reach out to in order to gauge their interest in participating.  

2. Choose a Hosting Platform 

Next, you’ll want to choose a hosting platform for your event. In some cases, everyday video conferencing or webinar software may work just fine. However, specialized software is also available. Carefully consider which option is best suited for your goals, then conduct research and select which platform to use.  

Some good options to consider include: 

  • Vfairs – Very flexible and advanced virtual events software that offers extensive customization features and 3D designs for added flair 
  • Brazen - Dedicated virtual event software trusted by Fortune 500 companies and top universities  
  • CareerEco - Online career fair software for students and alumni with a special focus on sustainability  
  • 6Connex - Virtual venues software with excellent flexibility and advanced AI capabilities  
  • Hopin - Virtual and hybrid events platform with advanced tools and integration technology  
  • Paradox - Streamlined virtual events platform that makes creating and hosting online career fairs quick and simple 
  • Zoom - Just about everyone has it already, making online job fairs accessible to a wide audience  
  • Skype - Simple to use and widely-available  
  • Google Meet - Flexible and widely-available for professionals of all backgrounds  
  • Microsoft Teams - Useful for many formats and already familiar to many professionals 

3. Form a Team to Plan and Execute the Event 

Afterwards, assemble a team to plan and execute your event. In general, you’ll need marketers, designers, recruiters and IT, though the exact makeup will likely vary based on your event’s scope and goals.  

4. Plan Your Programming 

Will it be a basic meet-and-greet between professionals and employers? Or will it include more diverse programming, such as webinars, Q&A sessions, networking talks and more? Refer to your goals, timeline and budget to see what formats will work best for your association.  

5. Reach Out to Employers and Other Partners 

At this stage, you’ll want to reach out to any relevant employers in your industry and other key partners to see if they’re interested in participating. Try casting a wide net to get as many participants as possible, as this will give attending professionals more options and generate more buzz in your industry.  

6. Create a Registration Process 

Next, finalize your registration process. Make it as quickseamless and clear as possible for attendees to sign up online by making your content concise, informative and with strong calls-to-action (CTAs)By including a newsletter signup option and field where attendees can leave their LinkedIn profile, you can turn your registration page into a lead capture hub, making it easy to stay in contact with both current and prospective members.  

7. Optimize Your Career Center 

Before your career fair starts, take the opportunity to improve your career center. Advertise your event on it and make sure it’s updated with valuable, informative content for your target audience.  

8. Promote Your Event 

Promoting your event (more on that in a second) is crucial. After all, how will anyone attend if they’re not aware of it? 

Sit down with your marketing team and draw up a specific plan to build awareness about your online job fair and generate interest in it.  

  • Social media marketing 
  • Email campaigns and newsletters 
  • Updates on your homepage and blog 
  • Paid advertising 

9. Host the Online Career Fair 

It’s showtime! 

Test your event’s technology a few days before the virtual career fair starts and again the morning of the event. Follow your programming agenda, sit back and enjoy the rewards of your hard work. As a side note, always keep your IT staff on-hand to address any technical issues that may arise for both employers and jobseekers as quickly as possible.  

10. Follow Up 

Finally, don’t forget to follow up. Send thank you emails to all attendees and participating employers to nurture any leads and take a close look at the data to gauge the success of your event.  

How to Promote a Virtual Career Fair 

To promote your online career fair and maximize attendance, a well-developed marketing plan is essential. This way, you can reach your target audience efficiently and convey the benefits of attending your digital job fair.  

Here are a few strategies to do just that.  

Leverage Your Career Center 

Your career center is an excellent place to advertise your upcoming online job fair. Consider adding banner ads with a clear CTA to sign up in several locations on your career center page, such as the header, footer, dashboards and sidebars. Doing so can help drive traffic to your events page, leading to higher registrations and engagement overall.  

Promote It on Your Homepage and Blog 

In addition to your career center, place an ad for your digital career fair on your homepage to boost its visibility to your target audience with a direct link to sign up. Your association’s blog can also be a great place to convey key information about your career fair to your target audience in detailexplain its benefits and how to sign up. 

Get the Word Out in Your Newsletters and Email Campaigns 

Does your association send out weekly, biweekly or monthly newsletter? Use the opportunity to get the word out about your online job fair directly to your target audience.  

As with any advertisements on your website, include a strong CTA and direct link to sign up and be sure to include any key information, such as the time and date it’ll be taking place, which employers will have booths, the time and location of specific events and what attendees can expect in general.  

Likewise, sending out targeted email or social media invitations is another option to consider, as it can help you target individual members of your audience on a personalized basis very efficiently.  

Spread the Word on Social Media 

Finally, social media channels are another great way to reach a large audience efficiently. Try creating branded graphics with a clear CTA and direct sign-up link for your social media channels, especially LinkedIn.  

Depending on your marketing strategy and social media content calendar, it can also be worth implementing a drip campaign several days or weeks before the virtual career fair to generate interest and boost awareness through releasing “bite-sized" stats, graphics and information about your upcoming event on a consistent basis.  

Other approaches to boosting your social media marketing efforts include paid advertising on LinkedIn aimed at your target audience and creating special events pages on Facebook and LinkedIn to promote your virtual job fair. This way, members and other jobseekers can easily find key information about your upcoming event and register for it. This is an especially great way to boost awareness for your career fair, as it allows members to share the event page in their profile and tag their friends and colleagues in the comments section to inform them about it.  

Real Life Case Study: American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 

American Academy of Neurology (AAN) offers a great example of the power of virtual career fairs in action.  

Like many associations, the AAN had to pivot quickly after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of its 2020 in-person annual meeting. Rather than cancel outright, the AAN opted for a virtual career fair, held in January 2021.  

The result? An outstanding success, with the event generating 98 applications and more than 2,000 job views! 

“We garnered the best results I’ve ever had for a career fair. Neurology is a very tight market and it’s very hard to hire for which typically results in low metrics for career fairs. But leveraging the tools provided by Madgex we generated 98 applications and over 2000 job views. To generate that much candidate traffic is amazing.”

Amy Schoch - Senior Manager, Career Services at AAN

Attract Members and Boost Revenue with a Virtual Career Fair 

Times are changing – meaning it's time for your association to change with them.  

By embracing virtual career fairs, associations can increase membership, boost revenue, drive engagement and position themselves at the forefront of digital change, especially among Millennial and Gen Z professionals.