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  • The Use of and Attendance in Virtual Career Fairs Climbs Sharply

    November 13, 2020 | By NACE Staff

    Trends & Predictions
    Researches review results from the Fall 2020 NACE Quick Poll.

    TAGS: technology, operations, trends and predictions, recruiting, spotlight, coronavirus

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    More than 90% of employers have attended a virtual career fair this fall, a steep climb from previous years, according to current results of NACE’s Fall Quick Polls on Virtual Career Fairs.

    That is a marked leap: Prior to this fall, just over one-third of responding employers had attended a virtual career fair. (See Figure 1.) This dramatic shift to the virtual space, of course, is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Despite the growth in participation, employer reaction is mixed in terms of the quality of interactions with students at virtual versus traditional fairs. Nearly one-third of employer respondents reported better or much better interactions with students at virtual career fairs, but a slightly higher percentage have found the interactions to be worse or much worse than those at traditional career fairs. (See Figure 2.) Some of that dissatisfaction may be related to technical issues—majorities of both employer and college respondents reported experiencing problems.

    Not surprisingly, colleges and universities also reported a sharp rise in virtual career fairs. Eight out of 10 taking part in the poll reported holding a virtual career fair during fall 2020, up sharply from the 15% who had done so in previous years.

    Unfortunately, around three-quarters of college respondents also reported drops in attendance among students and employers. (See Figure 4.)

    This raises the question of how students and employers will connect if the career fair—a staple of recruiting—does not meet their needs. There are also implications for colleges in terms of budget: Four out of five colleges have reported reduced revenues generated through the fairs.

    NACE is conducting its Fall Quick Polls on Virtual Career Fairs among its college and employer members to assess how career fairs fared in the virtual environment for students, career services, and employers. As of November 13, 202 employers and 449 colleges had responded. The polls started on October 19, 2020, and will run through November 20, 2020; live results are available on NACEWeb.

    Figure 1: Percentage of employers that attended a virtual career fair

      Yes No
    Attended a virtual career fair
    during the fall of 2020
    91% 9%
    Attended a virtual career fair
    in previous years
    35% 65%
    Source: Fall Quick Polls on Virtual Career Fairs, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: Compared to in-person career fairs, the quality of interactions with students at virtual career fairs was...

      Percent of respondents
    Much better 5%
    Better 25%
    About the same 37%
    Worse 31%
    Much worse 2%
    Source: Fall Quick Polls on Virtual Career Fairs, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 3: Percentage of colleges that conducted a virtual career fair

      Yes No
    Conducted a virtual career fair during the fall of 2020 80% 20%
    Conducted a virtual career fair in previous years 15% 85%
    Source: Fall Quick Polls on Virtual Career Fairs, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 4: Compared to in-person career fairs, number of employers and students participating in the virtual fair...

      Employers Students
    Increased 10% 7%
    Stayed about the same 18% 14%
    Decreased 71% 79%
    Source: Fall Quick Polls on Virtual Career Fairs, National Association of Colleges and Employers