In the war for talent, finding and hiring high-potential candidates early in their careers — before they get scooped up by competitors — is critical. But the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into this strategy, as many on-campus job fairs have been or will be canceled. 

This has forced recruiters to get creative, and many are turning to virtual events to replace in-person gatherings. What’s different about these online recruiting fairs is that a number of companies are choosing to host them on their own — and employers are seeing some benefits from this approach. In particular, these events allow companies to cast a wider net, as they’re no longer limited to picking the handful of schools they’d like to send recruiters to, nor are they restricted by university calendars.

Beyond hosting virtual recruiting events, companies are using social media more and more as a strategic recruiting tool. By connecting with university alumni associations, recent grads and other groups online, employers are able to share their current openings with a targeted audience without needing to send their recruiters anywhere or spend a lot of money on ads.

It remains to be seen how effective these emerging strategies will be in the long term, but it’s clear that companies see young talent as a vital part of their future success. This is also why we’ve seen an increased focus on building up intern programs in recent years — they’re one more way to get high-potential people in the door before other job offers start to pile up. And in the era of COVID-19, these programs are also increasingly  going virtual.