I’ve participated in four career fairs in my life. One was here on campus, one was in Los Angeles and Altlanta, and another was in Chicago. The latter three were very expensive and high stress environments with current and former MBAs all racing from booth to booth in order to try to get coveted interview spots that day before they fill up. Personally, I don’t find them enjoyable in any way. However, I have have very good results from all of the jumping through hoops so I kept going back.
So when I was perusing the Wall Street Journal and saw this article Virtual Fairs Offer Real Jobs, it seemed like a much cheaper and easier way to reach out and communicate with companies that you are interested in. The problem is, the more I read the more I realized a few things. First, many companies readily admitted that the main reason to be a part of these virtual career fairs was to exposed yourself to candidates and teach them about you, “it’s a great starting point for many younger candidates . . . [or] passive job seekers” – but hiring out of them is a secondary or tertiary priority. Second, they are mainly being used overseas to reach populations where candidates may be more geographically dispersed. Companies hold one for most of Europe, with many languages being supported, instead of having one and asking all the interested candidates to fly in for it. As a result, I don’t see any of the virtual career fairs saving me from having to fly all over the United States to reach the recruiters.
The online career fairs seem like they would save a lot of time and money for candidates and recruiters, but I can’t imagine that screening for “fit” or “personality” would be nearly as effective. The companies would probably have to fly out and interview more people who apply at the fairs to get the same number of quality people they get from a face-to-face fair. However, that isn’t whats happening, in fact it seems to be the opposite. Companies might cherry pick those who are obviously exceptional and bring them back for interviews, but it seems that a lot of great people would be passed over because recruiters would be very wary and unwilling to pay to fly them all out for interviews.
I basically love the idea, but companies have to look at them as more of a serious recruiting tool before I think it would help me get to a real offer.