A few months ago I signed up for 4 job fairs, two of which were for veterans, one for students of the university I attended, and one virtual job fair. The three in-person job fairs were supposed to happen this month, however, because of coronavirus, all of these were moved online.
If anyone ever wondered how these virtual job fairs work, I am sharing my personal experience with one of RecruitMilitary job fairs and their interface. But I have also previously done a virtual job fair that looks closer to real life:
Overall, a virtual job fair works very similar to a traditional job fair. So, imagine, if you walk into a room full of booths and tables, you can pretty much see all of the companies participating and you can come up to any the tables of the companies that interest you. In a similar way during a virtual job fair, after you log in, you end up in a lobby where you can see the list of all of the companies and (sometimes) schools participating.
The RecruitMilitary interface offers an ability to only see "employer rooms", or "school rooms". The "school rooms" contain a list of schools that offer educational opportunities to veterans. I won't concentrate on schools in this post.
Once you enter an employer of interest room, it looks like this (I am purposefully blurring the messages and names of all participants for privacy):
On the left side of the screen you can see the profile of the company, within which you can find information about the company, open positions, and links to their about and career pages. Under the profile there is a list of all participating and available recruiters and a list of participants. You can sent private messages to recruiters, but you cannot send messages to participants.
Then there is the open chat space. Many people prefer to introduce themselves in the open chat and recruiters also respond in open chat, however, there is an option to message a recruiter privately, which I did for the most part. Here is what private messaging looks like:
As you can see, you get a little P badge next to a recruiter's name. You also get a notification when they respond to you.
The website also supports the ability of being in several rooms at the same time, which is awesome, because you can talk to several recruiters at the same time without wasting time.
Overall I had a great experience with the RecruitMilitary platform. It was easy to navigate, required minimal effort, and pretty self-explanatory. The rest was up to the human factor. Most recruiters I spoke to were extremely nice, proficient, and responded in a timely matter. On a few occasions I did get a few responses that made me raise my eyebrow.
One recruiter asked me what a BS in CS was. I mean, I probably should have spelled out "Computer Science", but shouldn't a recruiter from a company that has a tech department know abbreviations of majors. Let me know in the comments below if you think computer scientists should spell out their major to recruiters! 😂
There was another occasion when, after searching for open dev positions at a company and not finding anything suitable, I privately messaged a recruiter with a proper introduction and an inquiry about possible future dev positions. The response I got was very weird: the recruiter said to check the about section on their website to learn about what they do. 😳🤨
In my opinion, while virtual job fairs can never replace that human connection you get at a traditional job fairs, they're just as efficient, as long as you follow up with everyone you made contact with. 😉