It’s safe to say that the coronavirus pandemic has put the skids on most events involving the mass gathering of people, and this includes those all-important careers fairs.
They tend to feature dozens of employers looking to secure the next generation of talent and offering jobs with plenty of roles, that they need filled quickly.
This week, these events are going virtual in an almost speed-dating type format.
Thousands of opportunities will be on offer for job seekers across the country this week as recruitment firm Indeed launches its first virtual National Hiring Days on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Making an impression: The rise of virtual job fairs and online video interviews has snowballed thanks to the pandemic (pic posed by model)
Indeed’s new virtual interview technology allows people to book interview slots for roles from across a range of sectors including retail, logistics and care while waiting for their appointment in a virtual ‘lobby’.
More than a dozen companies are taking part in the free event with some 2,000 roles on offer across England and Scotland.
Companies like Morrisons, Lidl, DHL, Yodel, Bupa Care Homes and more are using Indeed’s platform to speak and hire job seekers.
John Hardman, chief people officer at Yodel, says: ‘As we prepare for the run-up to Christmas we have a number of vacancies across the business and we’re excited to be working with Indeed to help those looking for their next role.
‘As part of this, we have introduced our virtual interview process, ensuring convenience and safety for all.’
|Sector and employers||Available jobs|
|Retail: Morrisons, Lidl||300|
|Insurance: Direct Line Group||100|
|Logistics: DHL, Yodel, UPS||460+|
|Care: Bupa Care Homes, HC-One, Four Seasons Healthcare, Voyage Care Group, Care UK, Priory Group, Elysium Healthcare, The Orders of St Johns Care Trust, Maria Mallaband, Affinity Trust, Sunrise Senior Living||1,000+|
|Source: Indeed, correct as at 6 November 2020|
The rise of the virtual job fair
Indeed is not the only platform to offer such a career fair or the possibility of applying for jobs virtually.
Joseph Hardy, director of finance for The UK Careers Fair, says the company changed from hosting 100 job seeker events a year to hosting a few virtual career fairs every week.
‘We’d do 100 events a year, then Covid-19 happened. We had to reassess ourselves as our whole business model was face-to-face recruitment.
‘But the demand was still there for candidates and companies, so we created our in-house virtual platform.’
Steve Warnham of Totaljobs says the site currently has 2,500 live roles which use video interviewing
They charge exhibitors, such as the army, Royal Navy, Xero and the National Health Service, around £200 per stand at their virtual events, while job seekers can attend for free.
Hardy says: ‘We have two to three events a day. This week alone we’ve got 12 events.’
Similarly, job site Totaljobs currently has 2,500 roles live on the site which use video interviewing.
Steve Warnham, spokesperson for Totaljobs says: ‘Our service allows recruiters to pre-set a series of questions and have candidates pre-record their response, meaning a virtual hiring day can be easily managed on one platform, and employers can review a range of applicants in one sitting.
‘At Totaljobs this service is built into our recruiter platform, meaning the interview process has become part and parcel of the advertising and selection process.
‘As restrictions are renewed and contact is limited, this looks set to only grow further.’
Seven tips for a video interview
1. Research the company
While you don’t have to research how to find your employer’s offices a great deal of preparation is still necessary. Indeed says that employers will leave important clues about what to expect.
They may also include job requirements, such as necessary certifications, requirements of the job or other details that will help you determine whether it’s the right fit for you.
2. Choose the right setting
Scope out a quiet area in the house that has the right ambience for a video interview. Darain Faraz, careers expert at LinkedIn, says: ‘Pick a quiet spot that will help you to communicate clearly without any interruption.
‘Maybe opt for a backdrop that tells the interviewer a little something about you – like setting your camera up in front of a stack of your favourite books to showcase your interests.
3. Check your internet connection
Indeed says it’s a good idea to check that your webcam and audio are working and to close any windows, tabs or applications on your computer that you’re not using.
4. Dress for success
During lockdown you may have got away with wearing casual clothing from the waist down, but this is not a good thing to do for an interview.
Faraz says: ‘Dressing the part helps you act the part.
‘Ditch pajamas or gym leggings and opt for an outfit you would have worn to the in-person interview – you’d be amazed what this does for your self-confidence.’
5. Remember body language
Indeed highlights that eye contact is very important during an interview.
Try to avoid the instinct to look directly at your interviewer on the screen while you’re answering a question. Instead, when you speak, direct your gaze towards the camera lens.
6. Don’t fret any interruptions
You may get interrupted, but that’s okay. Indeed says the best thing to do if something unexpected happens is to try to remain relaxed.
Interviewers are getting used to interruptions like your video or audio stopping working, noise interruptions and people entering the room unexpectedly.
7. Wind the conversation down
Faraz says: ‘Just as you would on the way out to the lift or down the stairs in person, make sure you have something saved for the end of the interview.
‘Bookending your interview like this will help you stick in their minds as an interesting and engaging person, as well as a professional.’
What’s the benefit of virtual national hiring days?
Indeed says that for employers, the National Hiring Days remove technical hurdles and speeds up the interviewing timeline by delegating the administrative tasks to the job site.
It reduces the time to hire from an average of six weeks to a matter of days or even make on-the-spot job offers.
The hiring drive comes as unemployment has risen to its highest level in three years and hundreds of thousands of people have been made redundant after Covid-19 turned the jobs market on its head.
The online setting means that those living under newly imposed Covid-19 measures are given the opportunity to connect to potential employers.
Are virtual fairs and hiring days here to stay?
Research from LinkedIn shows that more than two thirds of HR professionals and recruiters in the UK say that virtual interviews will become the norm post Covid-19.
While there has been a huge drive by job sites and employers to create virtual platforms, many feel divided about whether this will replace face to face interviews and in-person fairs entirely.
For now, online recruitment is here to stay over the short term at least. There are certainly many of advantages.
Warnham says: ‘For employers recruiting a high volume of roles, in industries such as logistics, customer services or social care, a virtual hiring day can be a timely way of assessing a range of candidates.
‘With greater flexibility, and a reduced investment, this can be an effective way to manage meeting a range of people in one day. As restrictions ease, it’s likely that many will continue this approach.’
Hardy says: ‘It will be the new normal for the foreseeable future. Especially for the events industry in future.
‘It’s a difficult transition going from physical to virtual but we’re lucky in the tech team that we have. A lot of companies have been so fortunate. We’re however hopeful that physical events can return May or June 2021 that’s what we’re holding out for.’
By Angelique Ruzicka
CVs to be banished by Covid-19?
Careers platform Slync says the traditional paper CV will be obsolete, especially for the next generation of the UK workforce.
As a result, founders Faiza and Jami Saiful created the Slync app, which allows Millennial and Generation Z students and graduates to create 35-second video CV on their phone that is seen by employers and recruiters for free.
Employers can also access Slync for free and they so far include businesses from tech, media, HR, and publishing backgrounds. There is a subscription model for enhanced features like posting job listings.
Jami says: ‘A 35-second video CV is all it takes for an employer to notice you. Slync allows digital natives to better manage their career opportunities and performance.’