Recruitment at Job Fairs: to be virtual or not.


The first quarter of the year is always busy at Polarising, since the two most renowned job fairs in Portugal take place in Lisbon almost at the same time. Many companies are represented and will compete to get the most contacts and possible hires.

These recruitment events gather many recent graduates and promising future talents, ready to finally leave the classroom directly to a nice job where they will start a career, mostly in IT.

For me, it’s always an exciting time! As Polarising’s Champion Academy manager, I am eager to engage and get to know what drives these young people, their plans and of course, to join my peers in what is a day very well spent.

A good add on that I can live without.

Despite the context we have been living, Polarising decided to go ahead with the sponsorship of both SINFO and FISTA, two major recruitment events organized by renowned Universities in Portugal. Only this time, totally online.

We are doing it for five consecutive years now, and it has always proved to be a good investment. It was also an opportunity to experiment this new virtual format for and see if it worked for Polarising’s recruitment.

It’s a fact that everything now has become remote. As companies and attendants, we must adapt to times. But in what concerns to job fairs and because of its dynamics, I don’t think that being exclusively online is the best format.

Not being there in person was a game-changer by itself. From the way we approach candidates and their first assessment of our company, it is the type of event where the human factor is essential.

But for those who organize these events it wasn’t easy either. The unprecedented conditions forced the students’ associations to rapidly find the best platforms available in the market, although they did not know exactly how they work.

I had contact with two different platforms and none gathered the requirements I consider essential. They were incomplete, and what was good in one was missing from the other.

For example, one of the platforms couldn’t save the chat history. This is an important feature, since after dozens of people visiting our boot we can’t keep track of what we talked about with whom! And the other didn’t allow to create group chats, which had been useful to the Academy context.

There’s always a virtual bright side.

However, the cost saving on logistics was considerable on our recruitment budget. Which for us means also not being concerned with loading and unloading material, assembling the booth, and move it from one place to the other in a short period of time (usually these job fairs take place on the same days).

And of course, those related costs like giveaways. Well, at least now we know that candidates don’t visit our booth just for the trinkets! In fact, this time I felt they were more available and willing to take time to chat and listen to what we had to offer; I guess that waiting 5 minutes in person seems more than 20 minutes in virtual life!

Virtual job fairs can also attract an audience that would not normally attend this type of events, either for the sake of distance or just because they don’t feel comfortable in person. It’s easier not to have to leave your home and be there at the same time!

The fact is that with no other distractions than to network and showcase, we were also able to give more and better attention to each candidate. So, I guess the virtual mode allows information to be more accessible and easily shared.

The overall result was good at both events: our Champions Academy ended up being a success, as we have received more applications than in previous years.

Dear candidates: this is about you, not us.

Although we have received more CVs than usual, there is something that puzzles me: why is it that some of the candidates that seem really interested didn’t apply right away and prefer to trust us to do it?

I know that the IT sector is competitive and always looking for talent like yours: but I would want to take my destiny by the hand! If you are interested in a company or job, do not wait for HR to go through hundreds of applications until they find you.

Specially, in what concerns to Academies. For example, Polarising’s Champions Academy has limited seats and we are selective about who will join. It has a lot more to do with our culture than with just technical requirements, because when you join it is to be hired in the long-term.

Those who really show interest are likely to get our attention and rapidly take a seat: your seat! Don’t miss out on a great opportunity just because you think there’s plenty of fish in the sea. Learn how to catch your own fish, the tastier one!

Tradition is still what it was (especially in recruitment).

I learned a lot with this experience, but the one thing I am certain of is that virtual job fairs and recruitment events can never be complete without that 1-to-1 contact. The ideal would be a mix of both formats and for that, companies and universities must work together on improving the recruitment experience. Let’s hope (and start planning!) for next year!

Daniel Lambuça
Polarising’s Tech Training and Academy Manager

Contact us to know more about Polarising’s Champions Academy.

Author profile