Executive Summary

The Australian National University (ANU) partnered with Whova for Career Connect 2021, a virtual career fair held on August 12. The event aims to connect students and recruiters alike to find the best job opportunities and candidates for positions. The 2021 event was highly successful, achieving high engagement numbers and opportunities for connection between the two groups.

Interview with the Organizers

About Career Connect 2021

Career Connect is an annual student career fair for the Australian National University. While it was held virtually in 2021 because due to the pandemic, the online format was advantageous in allowing employers and ANU students from around the world to connect remotely, allowing for a greater range of opportunities. Still, making sure students and recruiters were able to connect as effectively as they might have in-person was going to be a challenge.

177

Job openings posted

632

Community Board Messages

2,354

Messages Exchanged

Challenges

1. Effectively connecting recruiters and applicants

Without being able to speak with recruiters in person, attendees needed a way to explore different companies’ information in a way that felt like going to a real career fair, not just browsing job postings or a company website. Likewise, recruiters wanted a good way to post job opportunities and find and reach out to promising candidates.

2. Giving recruiters the chance to present and pitch their company

Recruiters needed a convenient way to show students what their company was about, what they were looking for, and also speak with potential applicants directly and answer any questions.

Recruiters could display company information through interactive digital booths

Recruiters could display company information through interactive digital booths

3. Giving attendees the chance to impress recruiters

Just like applicants might hand over their resumes to an in-person recruiter, the organizers wanted to make sure attendees could feature their qualifications and let recruiters know why they were right for the job.

4. Making sure recruiters were comfortable using virtual event tools

The virtual format was new for a lot of participants! It was important that recruiters understood how to use the event platform and were comfortable using the tools provided to speak with job-seekers.

Solutions

1. Connecting through engagement tools: The Career Connect organizers were able to encourage participation and connection through a variety of different engagement tools and networking tools. One especially popular feature was the Community Board, an event-wide forum where applicants and recruiters alike could create discussion topics to spark conversation. Recruiters would start threads letting attendees know about their companies and certain positions, and applicants would join in to ask any questions and discuss positions. 

Recruiters could schedule virtual meet-ups to meet applicants and answer any questions in an embedded video call, just like they would talk to attendees face-to-face in-person! Whova’s icebreaker feature was also popular  a fun way for attendees to introduce themselves and start engaging with one another, it made students feel more comfortable using the platform in general. 

632

Community Board Messages

2,354

Messages Exchanged

45

Group Chats

841

Attendees Used Private Messaging

2. Posting opportunities through an in-app job board: The Community Board’s Job Openings thread was also an important resource for this event. Employers could post a job, along with their contact information and a description, and all candidates had to do was press the “I’m Interested” button for recruiters to know to get in contact with them. 

Attendees could let recruiters know they were interested in certain positions right from Whova’s job board

Applicants could also comment on the postings to ask any questions, pitch themselves to employers through a “Job Seekers” tab, and search the positions for job title, company, and location.

177

Job Openings Posted

3. Displaying whether attendees were applicants or recruiters: The organizers also customized profile photo frames for attendees that displayed whether they were a recruiter or looking for work. These frames made it easy for attendees to know who they were interacting with and who to reach out to without having to explore the attendee’s profile for more information. 

4. Featuring company information in interactive digital booths: Each recruiter was able to display their company information through Whova’s interactive, customizable digital booths. Employers could enter their company information, feature videos, photos, and PDFs, and even add livestreams to the booth to interact directly with attendees. Attendees could also ask questions through the booth’s interactive chat sidebar.

“The actual event platform is really easy to use and it’s really great that employers have the capacity to actually log in and take control of their booth and upload documents. That seemed to be a really seamless process.” - Skye Luton

5. Running informational sessions for different companies: The organizers also ran informational sessions for select companies. These items appeared in the event’s Agenda page, and gave recruiters the opportunity to give attendees information on the company and answer any questions as they engaged through the session chat and session-specific polling. 

6. Using attendee profiles as a “micro-LinkedIn”: Applicants didn’t need to apply for a job or hand out printed resumes to impress employers with their experience — they could do it right from the app! Whether a candidate had indicated interest on a job posting, or a recruiter was searching the attendee list for people to reach out to, all they had to do to learn about the attendee’s skills, interest, and experience was click on their profile. 

“It was really important for employers to be able to see student profiles, where they could actually upload their resume. That was definitely a good feature.” - Rachel Howard

With Whova’s customizable attendee profiles, students could showcase their work history, education, interests, and even link to their websites, social media, and published works. Beyond that, they could even directly upload their resume to their profile as a PDF! This made it easy for attendees to impress recruiters without having to submit individual resumes, and for recruiters to effectively find the best candidates for the job. 

Attendees uploaded their education, experience, and resumes to attract recruiters

Attendees uploaded their education, experience, and resumes to attract recruiters

7. Making use of a simple setup and familiar platforms: The Whova platform was straightforward and simple to use even for recruiters who were completely new to it. The organizers just had to schedule an email through the app distributing personal links to the different recruiters, and from there they could follow the link to quickly fill out their company information. 

If recruiters wanted to feature a booth livestream, they also didn’t have to learn how to use a completely new streaming platform — instead, Whova allowed them to link with Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, or their preferred livestreaming platform. That way, applicants still got all the benefits of exploring the booth through Whova, but the recruiters could livestream through a platform they were familiar with. 

“[Whova] gives the employers the opportunity to use a platform that they’re familiar with [...] If they’re using a platform like Zoom or Teams that they’re used to, they’re quite comfortable with participating in the fair. I think that’s a really valuable feature.” - Rachel Howard

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