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Right now, virtual career fairs can be confusing to employers. Schools use multiple platforms to host their fairs and it’s overwhelming trying to master ones you’ve never used before! To help remove the guesswork for you, we recently attended several career fairs and share our experiences to help illustrate what you can expect from each platform. Don’t see one included here? Let us know in the comments!

Careernomics

Registration/before the fair
Careernomics is a virtual career fair platform Purdue used for its Krannert School of Management Virtual Career Fair hosted by Purdue’s School of Management Employers Forum (SMEF). When registering for Purdue’s career fair, I went through Purdue’s site, then received a confirmation email from Careernomics with login details for the event. Careernomics prepares a short corporate profile of your organization, which you can review as well as share any edits or attachments (such as pictures or videos) you’d like to add.

Before the event, you’re expected to attend a test run/training with Careernomics where it further explains the different types of sessions available to set up. You also can post your available jobs directly on its site. Lastly, make sure you set up your sessions prior to the event. Sessions have four different formatting options: one-on-one (timed, speed networking with one student at a time, can configure the duration), coffee chat (timed, speed networking with small groups, can configure the duration and group size), roundtable (best for informal presentations and group conversations) and formal presentation (like a webinar, optimal for formal presentations and large audiences).

When creating your sessions, you have to request them. This means the school will need to approve each one you create. Make sure you don’t overdo it! The duration time you select for your session will be in minutes. The maximum is 240 minutes (four hours). Don’t overload your schedule with back-to-back sessions that are several hours long. Try to have a break between them.

Each one needs a topic/title and a description – use this to appeal to students. Sessions are all done through Zoom, but you don’t plug in your Zoom meeting information. When you click “enter” on your session, Careernomics automatically starts a Zoom meeting. Ensure Zoom is installed on your computer in advance.

Day of the fair
On the day of the fair, you can enter your session 15 minutes before it’s scheduled to start. You’ll be able to see if people have registered ahead of time and can export registered attendees to an Excel document if you wish. You also can search, filter through and export students who will be attending the fair in general.

Your Zoom meeting has a waiting room feature and you can admit people as you see fit for video chats. If you have too many people, you can admit multiple people at once – even if you listed your session as one-on-one. What helped me was enabling the “play sound when someone joins or leaves” option in Zoom. When I was keeping my Zoom meeting open for several hours, the notification made certain I didn’t miss anyone entering the waiting room if I was working on another task.

Handshake

Registration/before the fair
Prior to the event, employers can set up their schedule. You have the ability to schedule a combination of 30-minute group sessions and/or 10-minute one-on-one sessions. If employers have multiple people on their team participating in the fair, they’re able to assign multiple team members to participate in the group session. Employers also can assign specific team members to the one-on-one sessions. If you need to take breaks for lunch or meetings, simply label periods of time as “busy.”

During the days leading up to the fair and even during the event, students can RSVP to attend your sessions. You can easily view their Handshake profile and resume.

Day of the fair
Since students can RSVP during the fair, it’s important to refresh your schedule multiple times throughout the day. Someone had RSVPed for one of my co-worker’s sessions, and she unfortunately missed them. If you don’t have anyone RSVP for a time slot, you don’t need to attend the meeting.

During the fair, Handshake provides easy-to-use audio and video tools to connect with students. When the time comes to meet with a student, you can click a button that says, “Launch Video.” It provides a preview of what you look like on camera. When you’re ready to join, you click another button to officially connect. As you near one minute of time remaining in your meetings, Handshake will provide you with a warning. Once time expires, the session will end.

After the fair, if you are interested in any of the students you met with, they will still appear in your schedule so you can quickly access their information for follow up.

InternX

Registration/before the fair
InternX is a relatively new virtual fair platform. Like others, employers have their own profile to provide company information and to post internships and/or jobs. When registering for the fair, my co-worker did so on a separate page, then later received an invitation from InternX to create an account on its platform. Prior to the fair, you can browse the students that will be attending. Employers are recommended to send invites to students, asking them to schedule a meeting with them. For the fair my co-worker attended, employers had 90 minutes available for students to schedule 10-minute meetings and then 90 minutes for an open Q&A session. The schedule was pre-defined, but you could contact InternX if you wanted to adjust the time you were available or the duration of your meetings.

Day of the fair
Employers have the option of either using their own video chat software (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc.) or using InternX’s built-in video/audio features. The main caveat is that all users must use Google Chrome for them to work correctly. My co-worker tried to use InternX’s video conferencing tool, but it didn’t work for her. She ended up sending each student she met with a link to our company’s Zoom account.

Multiple individuals within our company were registered as recruiters. However, when students signed up for a meeting, InternX either auto-assigned them to my co-worker – or since her first name begins with the letter “A” and she showed up first in the list of recruiters – every student picked her. In any case, she was the only person on our team with meetings, so the day of the fair was a bit hectic for her.

During the meetings, employers have to pay very close attention to time. It is your responsibility to know when the 10 minutes are up; there isn’t a warning. My co-worker found herself accidentally running over. However, if you do have issues during the fair, InternX’s staff was extremely helpful and provided almost instant assistance.

Symplicity

Registration/before the fair
During the time of COVID-19, Symplicity rolled out the ability to host virtual career fairs. Registration for a virtual career fair looks nearly identical to any in-person one: You enter in your organization’s information and add positions you’re recruiting for. Then you add your organization’s representatives attending the fair. You can include video meeting instructions for each person (e.g., video meeting URL, password, access code).

You then choose either one-on-one or group video chats (or both). For one-on-one video chats, it’s similar to what you may deal with at a traditional career fair, where you talk to one student at a time. You select an expected video chat time per candidate, which can be anywhere from five to 15 minutes. If you exceed video chat time during the fair, an alert tone will sound, but you can extend the chat for another five minutes if you need it. Once you select this chat duration time, however, you won’t be able to change it during the fair.

As for group video chats, these are great for talking to a lot of students at once, hosting company information sessions or answering FAQs. You add instructions for students on how to join your group video chat and specify what time(s) you’ll host those sessions.

Day of the fair
On the day of the fair, you won’t have access until an hour before the fair starts. You’ll log into Symplicity and be able to do a final check of your video chat instructions. You also can filter through attendees and invite specific students to speak with you, or even save their information to follow up with them. This perhaps makes it even more effective than an in-person career fair because even if you aren’t able to speak with everyone, you can still save their information for future use.

Instead of having students enter your Zoom (or other video program) call as they please, students don’t receive your video chat information until you invite them to start the chat – a helpful feature when you want to be in control of your own schedule. Once you get to the “view chats” page (which only shows up starting an hour before the fair), you’ll start to see interested students forming a queue, and you can view their resumes and majors. There isn’t a sound notification for when a student gets in line, though, so you have to keep an eye on your page. Sometimes students may be busy, but for the most part as you invite each waiting student, they’ll join your chat within seconds.

You’ll need to keep the Symplicity page open as you have your video chat because it will alert you when you’re almost at the end of your chat time. That’s where you can choose to extend the video chat as needed. Once the chat is done, the student will leave your video meeting and you can click “end chat” on Symplicity. That way, it’s marked as completed and you can view your queue again. You’ll be able to review everyone you spoke with under the “completed” tab. It’s also important to know you should keep your video meeting open for the duration of the fair.

Career Fair Plus

Registration/Before the Fair
I utilized Career Fair Plus for the Indiana Means Business career fair. I had to register on a separate site for the fair first, then I received an invitation from Career Fair Plus to set up my schedule on their platform. You have to complete your profile first, including a profile picture, job title, etc. Then you can proceed to the event’s page and create your event schedule.

You select a recruiter to set up the schedule for, then give the schedule a name that has what type of position you want to fill and a description with further details. You can change the interaction type to a phone call, external link (like Zoom), or use Career Fair Plus’s built-in video meeting room option. After this, you select your schedule’s start time and end time, and how long you want each time slot/meeting to be. You then can block out certain chunks of time if you’d like to give yourself a break. There’s also an additional option to select prerequisites (like certain majors, GPA requirements, etc.) to ensure you only meet with candidates that are the right fit.

Day of the Fair
During the fair, students had until noon that day to RSVP for a timeslot with you. Since noon was right in the middle of the fair, it was important to keep track of any last-minute additions. I had two students RSVP during the fair, and I was very lucky to be logged in to catch them. You are able to conveniently access each students’ profile that included a photo, resumé, GPA information, major and more.

The built-in video meeting room was extremely easy to use.  When it’s time to meet a student, you simply clicked a “Launch Meeting” button and the meeting would begin. Since it was a meeting room, it was up to me to admit students into the meeting. That gave me time to get “meeting ready” before students saw me on camera, and helped me to control the flow of traffic. Once the meeting began, it was completely up to me to stop the meeting on time. Sessions were only five minutes, so I had to pay very close attention to the clock.

Hopefully this gives you a better grasp on what virtual career fairs will look like. It’s also worth noting that when you register for a virtual career fair, many schools will already have some type of training for you to attend to ensure you understand how the fair works.

Don’t see a career fair platform you’re curious about? Let us know in the comments!

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