By Gayle Oliver-Plath

The reality is that traveling across the country to participate in a teacher recruitment fair is often time-consuming, expensive and quite frankly — no longer necessary.

In a recent virtual event, a participating organization indicated that 25% of its annual hires were attributed to virtual recruiting. A global technology employer hosts virtual recruiting events throughout the entire year, even outside the typical spring/fall recruiting cycles. A leader in the telecom space regularly participates in virtual events, not to the exclusion of but rather in addition to its robust traditional recruiting strategy. Increasingly, school systems and educational institutions are eagerly using virtual recruiting events to source talent. Meanwhile, according to the responses from thousands of jobseekers from around the globe, virtual fairs are an excellent way to connect with prospective employers. In essence, virtual recruiting tools are useful in today’s evolving talent acquisition and career management landscape.

Work the Fair – From Anywhere

Once upon a time, in a less resource-restricted marketplace, employers were likely to have strictly used on-site and other traditional recruiting methodologies. Combining the pressure of tight budgets and an ever-volatile economy with hard-to-predict cycles, staffing has become just-in-time. The result has been that employers are cutting back on travel and getting more resourceful. Even with positive hiring trends, shareholders demand higher profits and government debt has forced employers across all market segments, especially academia, to find new ways to employ technology at every stage of their recruiting process.

From sourcing talent via social media and video interviewing to participation in virtual career fairs, talent acquisition teams are attempting to find the right balance between online tools and traditional tactics. On-site recruiting offers high-touch branding and sourcing opportunities that are certainly valuable. However, if it limits the candidate pool to select events, it means potentially missing out on quality talent.

Consequently, virtual fairs can become an important alternative or enhancement to ensure employers aren’t restricted to competing for talent through their standard protocols. Tapping into talent through virtual initiatives like diversity-focused events allows for greater outreach and access to sought-after candidates in a time-efficient and cost-effective way.

Employer engagement is also at the heart of the virtual strategy. If I want to generate enthusiasm about my career opportunities, a handshake and a brief introduction of my organization may not be enough. Being available in a more “on-demand” virtual way allows curious candidates to explore and dig deeper. An eager jobseeker can gain insight about the organizational culture, the kind of career path that is possible, extensive details about the job opportunities or maybe even what a typical day is like in his or her dream job. Discovering more about prospective employers without the typical time pressures of interacting at a busy booth is a key reason that candidates report they value the virtual fairs.

Because jobseekers can attend the fair from anywhere, the virtual fairs are both convenient and efficient. These people can turn on their computer and within minutes connect with employers. Without standing in line, they can visit more than one employer at a time, allowing them to multi-task and interact privately and within group conversations, benefitting from the questions others ask.

The growing popularity of virtual events may also be reflected in this candidate comment: “I feel like it [virtual event] is more personal than in-person fairs. I feel like I am getting more attention.” Without the travel limitations, virtual events offer the possibility for recruiters, subject matter experts and hiring managers to join the chat sessions and interact with multiple candidates simultaneously while reviewing and downloading candidates’ résumés in real time. The technologies also allow recruiters to personalize the experience in private interactions, including one-to-one video chatting, which results in an interview-style form of engagement as well.

Because virtual events provide value for the entire ecosystem of stakeholders, they are expected to continue emerging as an innovative way to support both employers and jobseekers in their quest to find each other.