Staging an Online Job Fair

The United States government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) operates an innovative program to recruit the “cream of the crop” among the nation’s college graduates for careers in government service. Sanctioned by the President, the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program was started under President Jimmy Carter to recruit the best college and graduate school students for government internships and to get the right candidates on the “fast track” to meaningful government and civil service careers. Over 12,000 students apply annually, and only 5 percent are accepted to this exclusive program.

For the class of 2013, the OPM tasked consulting firm Intelligent Technologies Labs (ITL) with putting together an online career fair for more than 60 government agencies to replace a traditional live event. While reducing cost was one objective, it was not the primary reason for switching from an in-person job fair to an online job fair. Instead, organizers wanted to more effectively reach out to the “up and coming” generation with a cutting-edge, convenient virtual solution.


Delivering a Virtual Job Fair with ON24

As a first step, ITL held a virtual event solution “bake-off” and ended up selecting ON24 Virtual Show as the platform for the job fair, due in large part to the high level of technical and project management resources and support offered by the ON24 team, especially given the aggressive preparation schedule. Working with ON24, ITL created a polished virtual environment for the OPM, with booths for more than 60 government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

The fellows program is highly competitive, with a rigorous application process. Out of 12,000 applications received, only 660 were selected as finalists and invited to the OPM job fair. In the virtual environment, candidates visited the virtual booths of the numerous agencies represented to chat directly with recruiters and exchange contact information and resumes. A key part of the OPM virtual environment was a career resource center, featuring downloadable information on each agency that candidates could access before or after interacting with a particular agency.


Cost Savings and a More Efficient Recruiting Process

The OPM’s first-ever online job fair had more than 420 attendees and was received enthusiastically by both candidates and hiring agencies. Job candidates were eager to participate, and hiring agencies were pleased to have convenient access to a pool of highly qualified candidates.

Both the agencies and the job seekers praised the elimination of travel, citing the convenience of being able to attend the job fair from their homes or offices. A post-event survey conducted by ITL revealed that 90 percent of the audience approved highly of the ON24 platform and its features. The fellows also cited the ability to engage with more agencies and obtain more information as significant benefits.

Because of the success of the job fair, the OPM chose to make the ON24 environment accessible for an extended period, enabling job seekers to return and obtain more information about agencies in which they were interested. All parties are interested in participating in more virtual career events in the future.

“The Presidential Management Fellows program is important to the mission of the OPM, and we needed a platform that could help us deliver a quality online job fair experience in a very short amount of time… Thanks to the flexibility of the ON24 team and platform, we were able to achieve the government’s goals of cost savings and greater convenience – for both job seekers and hiring agencies – as well as deliver an event that was very well received, exceeding all expectations.”
— Mohamed Abuagla, Founder and CEO Intelligent Technologies Labs

How ITL Measures Virtual Job Fair Effectiveness

Objective: Quickly execute an online career fair to connect qualified job candidates to more than 60 government agencies.

Strategy: Leverage the ON24 Virtual Show platform to create the first-ever OPM Presidential Management Fellows Virtual Job Fair to replace a traditional in-person event and save time and travel cost while increasing convenience for job seekers and hiring agencies.

Results: The job fair was well received by candidates and hiring agencies alike, with some 420 qualified candidates attending and interacting with more than 60 agencies. The OPM saved significant time and travel cost when compared to a live event, and candidates could interact with multiple agencies in one central location. Post-event surveys revealed a 90 percent approval rating, with the event scoring well in the areas of convenience and recruiting efficiency. ITL and its government partners are exploring future online event possibilities, in an ongoing effort to make recruiting more efficient and effective.