Boosting recruitment with Virtual Careers Fairs: how to get the most out of the Handshake platform

September 10, 2021

During the pandemic, interest in virtual careers fairs skyrocketed, with employers, universities and students all embracing the chance to keep graduate recruitment happening. And, with many finding that a virtual approach delivered more flexibility, accessibility and scalability than face-to-face activity, the good news is that the format is here to stay. New data from Handshake shows that 92 per cent of HE institutions and 79 per cent of employers say they will be taking an online or hybrid approach in the year ahead.

But how do you get the most from a virtual fair? During an informative webinar for employers, Francis Aremo, Strategic Accounts, and Theo Grzegorczyk, Enterprise Success Manager, both at Handshake, provided their recommendations and tips on how to make the most of the Handshake platform, and how to get the best from attending virtual fairs.

Theo walked attendees through three core steps for success: registering for careers fairs, getting the best from the event itself - and how to promote your attendance to potential recruits. There are currently 37 careers fairs listed on the Handshake platform for the Autumn term ahead, he says, including sessions from the University of Cambridge, Sheffield Hallam and Handshake itself – so plenty of opportunity to meet potential recruits.

Signing up to careers fairs is easy on the platform, but, Theo asserted, the key is to promote your attendance to the students attending. He noted that employers should capitalise on Handshake’s schedule-based format - unlike the ‘bun fight’ of a physical fair, there’s an opportunity to book meetings ahead of time. Group sessions are important too, providing an opportunity to tell students about your organisation and why they’d want to join. And, Theo says, take the time to list your requirements for potential recruits, so that you’re only spending time talking to those who are qualified for the roles you want to fill.

Handshake also allows employers to search for individual students, or those with particular attributes/qualifications, to set up meetings directly or invite them to a fair. The savviest employers proactively source candidates through segmented campaigns, where they target groups, filtered by qualifications, areas of interest and more.

When it comes to timing, Theo tells us that 25 percent of people sign up for fairs just 24 hours before they start - but the median sign up is 5 days out. So, he says, do plan your outreach around when people are most likely to engage.

Wrapping up the session, Francis reminded us that 71 per cent of students think virtual is less intimidating than face-to-face, and employers need to capitalise on this, helping students feel at ease and setting them up to do their best.  It’s here where proactive outreach helps. He says, reassuring students that they’re in demand and that their skills are valued.

The Handshake team has already hosted more than 4,000 virtual fairs, and have plenty more advice on how to virtually recruit a wider and more diverse talent pool. Want to find out more? Visit Handshake Virtual Career Fair Series or get in touch.

To watch the full recording, click here