3 alternatives to hosting an IT career fair

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Industry Insider

By Eric Vidal

Anyone who has attended a career fair can attest to one commonality: they are usually not very enjoyable experiences. Think of how awful it is cramming into a hot, stuffy room with a throng of eager job hunters competing for your attention.

While career fairs are designed with the intention of facilitating dialogue between HR managers and potential new IT hires, oftentimes you just end up with a stack of resumes from candidates you know nothing about or who aren't really qualified for the job.

Instead, companies should look to alternatives for recruiting IT talent. Examples include sponsoring an online panel or hosting a networking event that connects hiring managers with passionate IT candidates--not just those applying to any and every tech job--and allow them to really get to know candidates in the process.

Here are some enticing alternatives to career fairs that companies can use to attract top IT talent:  

Host a virtual career fair

One of the leading solutions for companies looking to engage with IT recruits outside of the realm of a physical career fair is to host a virtual one. This type of event offers all of the amenities available to a company that they would experience in an in-person career fair, but at a fraction of the price and in a more convenient setting.

A typical recruiting event for a group of 500 attendees averages $10,000 to $15,000. Since most companies don't have an endless amounts of resources, virtual career fairs can provide a more realistic option. They can be ideal as an alternative to endless campus recruiting.

Virtual career fairs work in the same way that a physical event does, except that it takes place in a virtual environment. Obviously IT candidates should be comfortable engaging in virtual space.

With a virtual environment, large numbers of people can gather in one place, cutting back drastically on time and money spent traveling to and from each in-person career fair or other recruiting event. Companies can then expand their recruiting processes to a global scale and reach new candidates that they would have otherwise missed. No longer are they limited to just a handful of cities, but now they have the ability reach across 130 countries.

Sponsor a networking night

One alternative to hosting a job fair is to invite those who submit applications to attend a networking night. This is a much more affordable solution than hosting a full-blown career fair and serves as a viable way to meet new candidates in a relaxed environment.

A networking night is a great way to attract potential IT candidates in your local area, especially if you schedule it right at the end of the typical work day. It also offers a great opportunity for so-called "passive" candidates to test the recruiting waters.

Aside from the initial expense of providing refreshments, there is little to no cost for hosting this type of event. Additionally, it is a great way for existing employees to mingle with IT professionals who could potentially be working with them. Potential candidates and applicants will also appreciate the ability to network with other individuals within the company to get a better idea of the company culture and to see if it's the right fit for them.

Host a series of industry forums

Many companies are choosing to allocate the money they would traditionally spend on a career fair to host a series of interactive forums. These forums are a great opportunity for industry professionals, current employees and potential job candidates to get together and talk about hot industry topics. Not only do these types of events provide a great way to get to know others in the industry, they also create the perfect opportunity to reach out to upcoming graduates, as the forums can be done at local schools or colleges.

Another benefit of hosting a series of lectures is that new faces will show up who might not be initially looking for work--the so-called "passive" candidates mentioned above. It is a great way of expanding your search for new hires outside of the applicant pool. IT professionals from multiple industries can get together in this space to discuss ideas and collaborate.

Oftentimes this leads to the employment of someone who might not be aware that the company is even hiring.

About The Author: Eric Vidal is a director of product marketing at InterCall and is considered a leading voice and expert in virtual business, which expands from marketing to collaboration to learning. For InterCall's event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. Previously with WebEx, Eric managed the virtual classroom product for that firm. He has also held management positions at Cisco, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia.