When the Microsoft Learn Career Connected team realized that it was in a key position to connect two groups in need of an introduction—newly skilled job seekers and employers needing credentialed talent—the idea for virtual career fairs was born. The first Microsoft Learn Career Connected Career Fair was held in the United States in February 2024. This was initially a small pilot program, and now the team is rolling out career fairs worldwide to connect more employers and individuals skilled in Microsoft’s AI apps and services, Azure, and other emerging technologies. Attendees are members of the program’s talent coalition, a free-to-join community that connects job seekers, employers in need of talent, and organizations that provide skill-building and training opportunities. And the community is always looking for new members.

In kicking off the inaugural career fair, Holly Bilyeu, Microsoft Business Program Manager, quoted Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President, National Transformation Partnerships at Microsoft, who has pointed out how the skills-first economy is reshaping the global workforce. “Tech skills have become an essential asset in the job market, especially as we enter an exciting new era driven by AI. This is why we must invest in skilling people right now and connecting them to meaningful jobs and career paths.”


A field of ‘up-and-coming talent’ 

Virtual career fairs are one more way that Microsoft is helping to bridge the gap between skills and opportunity. The day-long virtual event enabled employers to meet individuals who hold or are earning Microsoft Credentials—Certifications or Applied Skills. These validations are a helpful filter for employers, shining a spotlight on the next generation of skilled workers. As one recruiter points out, “We met with lots of up-and-coming talent.”

“Our ultimate goal is to enable our customers and partners to achieve more by finding skilled talent that meets their needs and to help learners get connected with job opportunities of the future,” explains Bilyeu. “Microsoft is not a recruitment company. But we know that our customers and partners are seeking skilled individuals, and we know the academic institutions that are producing valuable technical talent. We can now bring them together through these virtual career fairs.”

Employers at the event participate in the Microsoft Learn Career Connected talent coalition. Through this group, they get help addressing their immediate and future talent needs. They also get the opportunity to expand their talent pipeline—with workforce development partners, nonprofits, and the colleges and universities in the Microsoft Learn for Educators program. Plus, they can amplify their organization as an employer of choice.

After the career fair, participants shared valuable feedback that will be used to improve future events, but the virtual setup was an overall success. As one hiring manager comments, “We gained a lot of qualified candidates and look forward to the next event.”


A place where new skills get noticed 

For job seekers, the career fair was a way to showcase their newly acquired skills, learn about available opportunities, and make an impression on hiring managers. The event offered a new way for these job seekers to get noticed. Attendees could make appointments to meet virtually with recruiters, apply for open positions and internships, and follow up on those connections. They could create virtual profiles, résumés, and business cards to show off newly minted credentials, such as the Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals or Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate certifications. Other job seekers chose to demonstrate their proficiency in scenario-based Microsoft Applied Skills learning paths, including in-demand scenarios, like Build a natural language processing solution with Azure AI Language, Develop generative AI solutions with Azure OpenAI Service, and Build an Azure AI Vision solution.

In addition, the career fair introduced job seekers to business leaders and experts on a range of topics. Through webinars at the event, attendees learned about generative AI with Copilot in Bing, earning Applied Skills credentials, successful careers in Dynamics 365 Business Central, and building a stronger LinkedIn profile.

“The audience was thrilled with the webinars,” Bilyeu reports. “Microsoft’s goal was to open job seekers’ eyes to other avenues that are available.”


A community of opportunity 

The Microsoft Learn Career Connected team is using the learnings from the first fair in the United States to enrich the experience for participants in the upcoming fairs (dates to be determined) in Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates. 

Job seekers, including students finishing up college, recent graduates, and workers looking for a career change or reentering the work force, can go to the Microsoft Learn Career Connected site to get more information and join the LinkedIn group. There they can find support as they start learning about Microsoft’s AI apps and services, Azure, cybersecurity, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, or Microsoft Power Platform, among other technologies. Job seekers can also find information there about the next virtual career fair.

If you’re an employer looking to connect with skilled talent at job fairs and beyond, sign up for the Microsoft Learn Career Connected talent coalition. The program is always open to new members, and there’s no fee to join. Employers who have signed up for the talent coalition and want to join future fairs can fill out the Microsoft Learn Career Connected Career Fairs Exhibitor Request Application.

“Everyone’s looking for great resources,” Bilyeu adds. “We hope these virtual career fairs help organizations proactively find new talent.”


Learn more 

  • For job seekers, discover Microsoft Learn Career Connected, including steps to your new or next career—career paths, preparation resources, LinkedIn profile tips, and community connections. 
  • Explore the Microsoft Learn AI learning hub, to get skilled up and ready to power AI transformation with the Microsoft Cloud and to chart your AI learning journey.  
  • Learn more about Microsoft Credentials—Microsoft Certifications and Applied Skills—to build and validate skills in Microsoft’s AI apps and services, Azure, cybersecurity, and more in-demand technologies.