Virtual Job Fairs finding their way


Cassie Labay/The JTAC

Alana Hefner and Kelli Murphy in front of the Career Services office where they work readily to help with any students you may have.

On Sept. 24, Career Services hosted their first job fair of the semester. Then, on Oct. 1, they hosted their second job fair of the semester, with their last job fair set for Nov. 12.

COVID-19 has caused many changes to how events, classes and other things have to be hosted, with the job fairs being no different. Since the start of the global pandemic in Spring 2020, Career Services has been working tirelessly to adapt and continue to unite Tarleton students and employers.

All of the Spring 2020 job fairs had to be canceled due to COVID-19. This cancellation forced the themed job fairs, that Career Services was planning for Spring 2020, to be moved to a later date. One of the main reasons these job fairs had to be canceled was due to the fact that Career Services did not have a virtual platform to move the job fair onto, besides zoom. It also took Career Services some time in order to get Zoom to suit their needs. After getting Zoom set up they began holding small mixers in the place of the traditional job fairs.

One of the biggest reasons for holding these mixers was because Career Services was approached by employers in desperate need of students to hire. The Zoom mixers focused on the specific industries that approached Career Services. These mixers had minor success and served as a good bridge for Career Services next move.

Over the summer, Career Services used a different streaming platform in order to run their virtual job fairs, but after some consideration, decided the previous platform used would cost employers too much money. With the current economic issues employers are facing, Career Services felt like it would not make sense to charge employers a significant amount in order to recruit Tarleton students.

“Over the summer Handshake did some crisis intervention and re-prioritized some of their projects. They were working on a virtual module for handshake [prior to COVID-19], so they expedited that [project] and rolled it out in August. Our first virtual job fair with the handshake platform was [Sept. 24] with our Graduate and Professional Schools Fair. It was new to us, it was new to the recruiters and it was certainly new to the students while it’s also relatively new to Handshake, so there were a lot of hurdles,” Director of Career Services, Alana Hefner said.

With the changes made to the process of hosting and preparing the job fairs, the registration process for students has also changed. Previously the process was a one-step process, where students would simply press the registration button, through handshake, however, now the process is two-steps.

“Student’s register for the job fair through Handshake, and registration on the students end is a two-part process. [Previously] you would look at an event, hit the register button and boom you would get an automatic email with information. Now the automatic email prompts them to do step two,” Hefner said.

Step two of the registration process has students filling out their schedule for the event they register for. During step two students have to look at what employers have registered; what group sessions are offered and what times are available. Students use this information in order to build their schedule for the events. Another option being offered to students from employers, during these events are ten minute one-on-one sessions.

On Oct. 1, Career Services held their second virtual job fair, for the fall semester. This event had 34 recruiters and companies who attended. Out of the 183 students who registered to attend, only 83 participated at some level, creating a 45% participation rate. The Graduate and Professional Schools Fair, had 55 recruiters and schools attend and out of 110 registered students, only 58 participated creating a 52% participation rate. After engaging in a Handshake webinar on Oct. 6, Career Services learned that schools across the nation are seeing a drastic reduction in student attendance, in similar virtual events, so it’s not just an issue TSU is facing.

“We are right in the center between serving the employers, because they really need new hires and students who really need the jobs. [We are] trying to marry the two together,” Hefner said.

Thanks to the new virtual style Career Services plans on hosting more job fairs than previously possible, during Spring 2021. In Spring 2020 Career Services was planning to host themed job fairs, however due to COVID-19, those had to be cancelled. Career Services plans on bringing those themed job fairs back for the next spring semester, with the new virtual style.

The third 2020 Fall Virtual Job Fair will be held on Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students will have to register for the event through www.tarleton. edu/calendar/#!view/event/ date/20201112/event_id/80610.