Can a Virtual Career Fair Be Like the Real Thing?

by Braden Kelley

I had the opportunity to be a fly on the wall at‘s virtual career fair on February 20, 2009. It was hosted using technology from iCongo that attempts to virtually replicate the feeling of a traditional career fair, complete with:

  • Lobby
  • Exhibitor Hall
  • Seminars

For the seminars there was integration of YouTube and other web sites like CNBC for “presentations” in the “auditorium”.

The chat functionality (userplane av webmessenger) was capable of Audio/Video, but I didn’t come across anyone using it. Nobody tried to engage me by A/V and the interface made me think that others didn’t have the capability.

People manning the booths seemed to feel the event was successful for capturing profiles from a large number of candidates, but some hesitated to call the virtual event a success until they saw whether it resulted in real hires.

From an attendee perspective, each attendee was able to create a profile for their details and their resume, and to visit the company booths and start online chats with representatives there.

My personal experience of the event was that it felt very vacant, empty, and impersonal. There was no greeter or question desk, there were no avatars manning the booths, and only one person bothered to make a photo appear in their chat window. There was no indication of the number of chats that any of the “available” people in the booth were currently having. But more than anything, I was surprised that a vast majority of my chat requests went unanswered, even from large companies like IBM and PWC that had several employees listed as available. But I did manage to chat with representatives of Project One Consulting, MindBench and PA Consulting and found them all to be friendly, helpful, and responsive.

I wasn’t there looking for a job, but I hate to say that if I was that I probably would have found the experience disappointing. For the future, iCongo should look at addressing some of these shortcomings and look at working with at creating a more active customer on-boarding experience.

I didn’t notice the demo in the confirmation e-mail, but did manage to figure out everything covered (though I didn’t get anyone welcoming me). Being welcomed like this would have made it feel a little more personal. The demo and e-mails also failed to mention that I had a profile to fill out, and what the benefits of doing so might be. The benefits of filling out your profile should be at the very beginning of the demo, and of the registration process.

Overall, this virtual career fair was a good first step, and I imagine the next time and iCongo hold a virtual career fair it will be much improved.

Do virtual career fairs have a future?

What do you think?


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