Going to a job fair once meant gussying up in your best suit, printing out dozens of copies of your résumé, and patiently waiting in line after line for your chance to chat with an employer.
But McLean-based start-up Brazen Careerist is putting a decidedly different spin on that familiar experience. Its cloud-based platform for virtual career fairs and networking sessions lets companies hold online events for an exclusive group of invitees. The technology allows for timed, one-on-one interactions via Web chat in which job candidates and employers can get to know each another without ever leaving their homes or offices.
“We’re offering them something better than a job listing. We’re offering them an opportunity to actually talk and connect with a real person,” said Ryan Healy, the firm’s founder and chief operating officer.
Brazen began in 2008 as a LinkedIn-like social network focused on young professionals. However, Healy and his collaborators eventually decided that wasn’t going to be their niche: Millennials, they noticed, seemed content to use LinkedIn instead of having their own networking site.
After moving from Madison, Wis., to McLean in 2010, the company changed its focus in 2011 to the virtual career events that are now at the center of its strategy. Since the pivot, they’ve done events with large clients such as American Express, Deloitte, Gannett and Raytheon.
The Buller Group, a Reston-based recruiting firm that specializes in placing workers who have security clearance, has found the platform to be effective because of the privacy it affords participants.
“Especially in the cleared space, candidates are definitely cautious as to where they want to go, where they want to expose themselves,” said Allie Rose, the firm’s director of strategic programs.
Another client, George Washington University, began using Brazen’s platform in 2012 for monthly alumni networking events. So far, GW has had participants from 20 countries and 25 states, a sign that the sessions are connecting people who likely would not have met at a traditional, in-person event. In order to make the sessions most useful, GW segments them by industry so that users can chat with people in a similar professions.
Michael Steelman, director of alumni career services, said each hour-long event has drawn an average of 100 participants and that most users have stayed for its full duration.
Both GW and the Buller Group are not using the online events as substitutes for face-to-face ones; rather, the new offerings are more of a supplement.
That may be because there are some aspects of interpersonal communication that are inherently lost in a virtual setting, such as tone and body language.
But the cloud-based design of Brazen Careerist’s platform, Healy said, has been critical to its effectiveness and scalability. That’s because for a client to expand its use of the technology, no additional set-up or installation is required.