Over the first weekend of December, 22 Africa schools, 66 recruiters, and 136 candidates took part in the inaugural Africa Virtual Fair, reflecting Search Associates’ (SEARCH) target ratio for virtual job fairs of one school for every six candidates.
Fair host Senior Associate Gez Hayden was pleased the event was enjoyable and fun; candidates commented that although virtual, the Africa fair was nevertheless personal, with ready access to Gez as well as Amelia Ren-Hayden—who ran the event—and, of course, to recruiters. Candidates were encouraged to upload short, introductory videos, accessible to recruiters via the Fair Portal. This “pitch” to schools, mirroring the interview sign-up session of an in-person fair, was much appreciated by the schools.
Africa Virtual Fair’s unique concept is to allow candidates from anywhere in the world, interested specifically inann working in Africa, to interview with Africa school leaders in a real-time virtual event. Experience has shown Search Associates that factors such as cost and time work against candidates from beyond Africa who desire to attend an in-person event. Because the virtual event addresses those issues, the annual Africa Fair will always be virtual!
One special feature of the fair was a series of Zoom Q&A sessions, usually led by the Head of School. Candidates were treated tono-holds-barred descriptions of the attending schools. Heads chaired those sessions from a range of locations. In one case, the Head walked around campus providing a live tour during the session while answering candidates’ questions. All live sessions were recorded to the Cloud so that candidates from distant time zones would be able to access them.
Evaluation surveys indicate a high degree of satisfaction with this virtual event from both candidates and recruiters, despite their being largely new to the virtual format. It was gratifying to see that all participants found our Virtual Fair Portal easy to use and efficient in facilitating communication between schools and candidates.
Placements are already being confirmed as schools prepare for the winter break. Half of our total school membership in Africa (44) attended the event.Gez, whose team aims to increase school participation by 50% for December 2022, has this to say:
We thank candidates and recruiters for completing the evaluation survey, and for the several suggestions for additional features, which we will certainly consider for future virtual fairs. We have made a very promising start, upon which to build for the future of the Africa Schools Virtual Job Fair.