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Organizers of Kanata North’s largest job fair are putting a new digital twist on the popular event, bringing job seekers and recruiters together online as local tech companies continue their search for top talent. 

Typically drawing thousands of candidates every year to the Brookstreet Hotel, Discover TechNATA offers attendees access to some of the biggest names in Kanata North tech – all under one roof. 

However, amid public health restrictions, this year’s event will be held virtually, offering attendees the same access and opportunities but from the safety of their homes and offices, says Jamie Petten, president and executive director of the Kanata North Business Association. 

“It’s very important that we continue to find opportunities to connect talent with our member companies, especially in the current environment,” says Petten. “We’ve had a remarkable number of companies maintain their booth space at Discover TechNATA, which speaks to the innovation and need for talent within the park.”

To assist with the digital transformation, Discover TechNATA is joining forces with Ottawa’s International Talent Acquisition Centre (In-TAC) – the team behind Canada’s largest Virtual Career Expo. 

Together, the organizations expect to see nearly 20,000 job seekers access the online event in October, with some 100 participating companies looking to fill approximately 4,000 positions. 

Attendees can pre-register for the event – which takes place Oct. 6-7 – for free on In-TAC’s website, where they can also build a virtual profile and start to become acquainted with some of the participating companies.

“In-TAC’s years of experience in delivering virtual career fairs and their expertise in doing that in a really professional way felt like a natural fit for us,” adds Petten. “It’s an exciting time for our community to gather and to celebrate all of the innovation happening in the tech park.”

The virtual experience 

Informal meetings, impromptu conversations and making new connections are a major draw of traditional job fairs for many attendees. This year’s digital edition of Discover TechNATA offers recruiters and job seekers even more opportunities to engage and learn about one another.  

Each participating company will have a digital booth outfitted with information on the business as well as photos, videos and available job opportunities. 

Company representatives will also be online and available to chat with prospective applicants about what day-to-day life is like on the job and to field questions on the hiring process. 

An example of the digital booth display and what users can expect to see when they enter the job fair.

Job seekers can review information about participating companies before the event, making it easier and faster to find the most relevant opportunities, says Jay Siddons, In-TAC’s senior advisor of industry relations and government affairs.

Applicants can also upload their resumes to an online portal and see when recruiters are active to engage in an online chat.

“The employers who work with us truly understand the strength of the ecosystem of an event like this,” he says. “We want people to connect. That’s really the premise of the platform – connecting and having those live interactions, even through a screen.”

Hosting the event virtually over two days also offers attendees a greater level of flexibility than a traditional in-person event, adds Siddons. 

“Having the event information live beforehand will allow users to come in with a strategy and make the most of their time on the platform,” he says, adding that even if the right job doesn’t come along, users will have access to various webinars and information tools to help them on their job-seeking journey. 

A new way to hire

For the team at Kanata North’s You.i TV, missing out on Discover TechNATA – whether it be in-person or virtually – just wasn’t an option. 

The video app interface designer is a long-time participant in the annual job fair, often recruiting new employees through the process. 

You.i TV’s booth at Discover TechNATA 2019.

The virtual nature of this year’s event however didn’t faze the recruitment team, which have been experimenting with virtual hiring since COVID-19 emerged in March. 

The company has onboarded 45 new employees virtually and is looking to add even more from the upcoming job fair.

“It’s been a different planning process for the event this year. We really had to look at what the message is that we want to get out there,” says Kylie Hurst, manager of talent programs at You.i TV. “If we’re not doing a huge demo and we’re not bringing all of this extra stuff, how can we still be seen?”

Instead of flashy TV screens and free popcorn for guests, the You.i TV team are drilling down into what makes the company a great place to work and plans to share those stories with job seekers through their digital booth.  

The online format will enable more You.i TV employees to participate than in past years, engaging job seekers and sharing their experiences working at the company. 

“Fun fanfare aside, I think a lot of companies are really going to focus on what people can get out of working for their company and how their corporate values align with someone’s personal values,” says Hurst, adding that the virtual nature of the event is also allowing the company to broaden its search outside of Ottawa and introduce people to the wider Kanata North community.

“We love to be involved in anything to do with highlighting the great things happening in the tech park and we are just so excited that this event is still happening,” says Hurst. “We can’t wait to come together with our fellow Kanata North companies and showcase why it’s so great to work in this community.”

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