The topic of this posting concerns virtual job fairs. I must admit though that my previous experience with job fairs has been primarily to feign interest in employment just long enough to get a cool Frisbee, thermos or bottle-opener from a company advertising themselves with these items. Having never actually done the virtual version of the real life thing, I can’t with 100% confidence layout the pros and cons of virtual vs. real life. However, I have attended the real life versions for looting purposes in the past, and I think a virtual version would be an improvement. This is especially true if the goal of the candidate is to secure a job and that of the company is to obtain an employee with the minimum expenditure of time and money.
The primary reason that a virtual job fair is more useful than a real life one is that the meeting between prospective employee (you) and employer (them) is already impersonal. It’s kind of like speed-dating, and you have something like a few minutes to tell someone with limited hiring authority why you are a good candidate for employment.
All of this is happening with a clamoring, yet orderly line of business-dressed hopefuls in line behind you. In other words, the situation is not exactly a recipe for success. Moreover, the function of the company representatives at career fairs is to collect résumés and give out the loot I am usually there to collect. There is nothing personal about the meeting between candidate and employer due primarily to the volume of applicants.
So, as long as the exchange is impersonal, why not cut right to the chase and just provide a platform for immediate exchange of a résumé? Why not have a virtual job fair? The company gets the information it needs, i.e., your relevant experience, and the candidate gets his/her résumé into the company hopper.
Of course, the possible detraction of a job fair being virtual is that the employer does not get a full dose of the candidate’s character. This can be so for either the candidate (if they don’t get a chance to display a personality that meets company culture well) or for the company (if the candidate masquerades a lack of such a personality with the résumé). But comparing these cons with the speed-dating nature of real life job fairs, an electronic exchange of information can only make things more effective, since they are already highly impersonal.
Unfortunately, the increased utility of a virtual job fair will probably mean that I’ll have to actually purchase my next Nalgene thermos. Let’s hope for future generations of job-fair Jack Sparrows that a virtual equivalent arises!
In all honesty though, happy hunting to the candidates and may your virtual hunt for a job land you a real life success.