Virtual career fairs are on the rise, and tech companies are leading the charge.
With unemployment at 4 percent and companies struggling to close the skills gap and increase diversity, virtual career fairs are answering the call. Unlike the traditional job fair, going digital provides a way for companies to access a global pool of high-quality applicants. And the candidates fare better as well: They now have the chance to meet and interact directly with hundreds of employers right from their living room.
There's no industry more excited about this new trend than tech, where companies are competing against the likes of Google, Facebook and Apple to attract the best and the brightest and hiring remote workers has become the norm. In fact, the computer and IT industry currently ranks second in the career category that embraces remote work, according to a report on workplace findings by Gallup.
Among the reasons: technology has allowed work environments to become more flexible and customizable, top tech and IT specialists are demanding more flexibility, and the cost of living in top tech hotbeds such as New York City and San Francisco has become astronomical. As a result, companies are exploring creative alternatives to the finite resource of local talent, and remote work tops the list.
"We are a strong believer in hiring for talent and not by location," said Melinda Starbird, Auth0's vice president of people. The private cloud company, which provides a universal authentication and authorization platform for web, mobile and legacy applications, hires many of its applicants through virtual fairs. Auth0 currently has five physical locations — in Bellevue, Washington; Buenos Aires; London; Tokyo and Sydney — yet the company employs remote workers in more than 35 countries around the world.
"When opening a search without any regional restrictions, our ability to find amazing talent increases," said Starbird.
Other organizations, such as FlexJobs, host their own. On Thursday the remote-work career site is hosting the FlexJobs' Remote Work Virtual Job Fair for candidates who want to work from home, either part- or full-time. It's a logical step to connect with companies that value work flexibility, said Brie Reynolds, the company's senior career specialist. She agrees that remote workers for computer and IT jobs are in high demand.
"On our list of the 100 Top Companies for Remote Jobs in 2019, 26 of the companies hire heavily for computer and IT jobs," said Reynolds. Next are medical/health, sales, education/training, customer service, accounting/finance and HR and recruiting.
Auth0 will be participating in FlexJobs' virtual career fair, as will Hilton, Concentrix, Appen, Lionbridge and many others. The positions are widespread, from web search evaluators, social media evaluators and developer support engineers to brand designers, full-stack developers, senior software engineers and product security engineers.
You must be a member of the FlexJobs community to participate, but it's easy enough to join and register for the fair.
The trend of American employees working remotely continues to grow, according to Gallup's State of the American Workplace report. Currently, 43 percent of the workforce today comprises remote workers. Yet many believe that remote workers, like freelancers, don't have the same privileges as full-time employees.
"Most of the jobs on FlexJobs' platform — about 80 percent of the current listings — are actually employee jobs. In these remote positions, employers would provide the same traditional employment benefits and protections as in-office jobs for full-time workers. In our computer and IT jobs category, about 85 percent of the current jobs listed are employee jobs, not freelance," she said.
Starbird said that although a large percentage of Auth0's workforce is remote, the employees are fully integrated with every team in the organization. "We have implemented all of the necessary technologies and communication tools to ensure they are able to do their jobs effectively, efficiently and with impact, regardless of where they live."
To retain their remote work talent, Auth0 reimburses the expenses of the home office or co-working space and is a big believer in face-to-face interaction. The company also hosts team offsite/onsite gatherings to encourage collaboration and team-building. "Our company offsite annual event brings Auth0 employees from all around the world together. We have been fortunate to converge in wonderful locations thus far, like Cancun and Panama. Our 2019 off-site will be in Los Cabos, Mexico, later this year," Starbird said.
How to prepare for a virtual job fair
Research the companies. You'll still need to treat a virtual job fair just as you would an in-person one. And that means researching the companies that will be in attendance so you can meet with potential employers and impress them with your industry knowledge.
Check your tech. There's nothing worse than signing in to a virtual job fair and your Wi-Fi gets wonky. Make sure to test your settings prior to attending a virtual job fair so that you can let your skills and experience shine—and not your lack of a solid Internet connection.
Dress well. If you thought that attending a virtual job fair meant you could show up in shorts and a T-shirt, think again. You still should dress in professional attire that is appropriate for your industry.
Opt for your home office. Although you can, in theory, attend a virtual job fair from anywhere, that doesn't mean you should. Ideally, log on to a virtual job fair from your home office, where you'll be able to stage your background so it looks professional. And don't be tempted to participate from your cellphone, it doesn't always have the same quality (and connection) as your home computer.
Look into the camera. Be sure to look at the camera rather than the person interviewing you, and exhibit confidence by keeping your legs aligned with your shoulders and your feet approximately four to six inches apart.