Get dressed. Leave home. Fight traffic. Search for parking. Navigate your way through the crowd. Wait in line for a chance to speak with employers. It’s the way career fairs have always been…and then there was a pandemic which has caused employers to rethink their recruitment practices. Not too long ago virtual career fairs were considered as a “plan b”. Today, with social distancing guideline, more companies are embracing virtual career fairs as a primary resource rather than a supplementary or creative resource. Virtual job fairs have become more of the staple, the norm and the necessity.
How Virtual Job Fairs Work
Virtual job fairs take place at a designated time and are similar to a webinar. Recruiters and job seekers meet in a virtual space via chat rooms, teleconferencing, webcasts, and/or email to exchange information about job postings.
Rather than just reviewing resumes, hiring managers will be able to meet candidates face to face, interview them and make offers right on the spot. Virtual hiring takes the hassle, time and expense out of attending a traditional job fair and helps recruiters and employers interact with potential employees from all over the world and a variety of disciplines. An advantage that companies have hosting virtual job fairs is that they offer a better avenue for sourcing diverse candidates. One of the greatest benefits of virtual recruiting is the ability to source diverse candidates from various backgrounds, locations and experiences.
For job seekers with disabilities, a virtual career fair is about convenience. It’s about not having to worry whether or not the event venue is accessible and feeling confident about your surroundings. Candidates can join a virtual job fair from anywhere with the click of a button, and so can recruiters!
What can you expect at a virtual career fair?
Virtual career fairs feel similar to online discussion posts. After you log in, you can choose to “enter” various rooms within the virtual career fair. Each room houses a different employer participating in the career fair. When you enter a room, the employer receives a notification. At that point a representative from the employer will greet you via a chat function.
Others already in the virtual room may be in the midst of a conversation and you are welcome to chime in. You can also opt to chat privately with an employer, where you may ask about open positions, details about the organization and your qualifications. Employers may even want to video chat with you face to face.
Now that you know what to expect, Don’t “walk” into a virtual career fair with zero preparation. Check out the following tips to make the most of this exciting opportunity.
7 Tips for a Successful Virtual Job Fair Experience
- Register ahead of time
You’re going to want to register beforehand. Not only will this prevent any last minute hiccups before the career fair, but it will allow you to get a glimpse at the employers participating in the fair. Which leads us to our next tip…
- Research Participating Organizations
After registering, take some time to review the organizations attending the career fair. You’ll want to get an idea of some of the companies you’d like to meet with. You also don’t want to walk in unprepared—learn about the companies and think of questions you’ll want to ask.
- Prepare Your Digital Resume To Send Electronically To The Organization
This is a no-brainer, yet so important. It is a good practice to offer to send your resume at the end of the conversation with the recruiter during the virtual fair. Have the document downloaded and ready to go on your laptop/computer or phone so that you can easily send it through the email or chat platform. The same goes for your LinkedIn account, or a portfolio of your work samples. If the platform allows, upload your resume to your account so it is accessible and ready to hand over to any employers you meet with at the career fair.
- Create a Virtual Professional Presence on Social Media
With this expert advice in hand, navigate the new waters of virtual career fairs with ease. You never know—it just might get your foot in the door of a field you’re vying for, or even land you the job of your dreams.
- Rehearse Your Unique Selling Points
In addition to a solid resume, strong LinkedIn profile, and good background knowledge of employers, it’s also wise to rehearse your unique narrative. That means crafting a verbal personal statement that precisely explains your professional history, present, and desired future. The more honest and true to yourself you stay, the more you’ll stick out as a unique candidate. Recruiters have heard just about every recycled pitch in the book, so think about how you can make yourself memorable.
- Do a Tech Check
You’ll want to make sure your device is capable of supporting you in the virtual career fair. While it is definitely preferable to have camera capabilities in case an employer would like to speak with you face to face, you don’t necessarily have to have a device with a camera. You should also try a dry run the day before the virtual career fair to ensure smooth sailing on the big day,
- Dress For Success & Find An Appropriate Background
You can expect to interact with employers at a virtual career fair through chat functions. However, Recruiters can still see you and will be expecting you to be dressed professionally. Make the most out of this opportunity to make a connection by looking professional and presentable. Look at anything you show as a part of your own branding and clean it up to reflect the “you” that you want to highlight. A t-shirt and dirty dishes laying on the floor behind you just don’t give a good impression.
- Attend From A Distraction-Free Environment
In addition to your professional attire, you will also want to plan out where you’ll be attending the virtual career fair from. A quiet location is ideal—and camera capabilities mean that you’ll want to ensure its distraction-free for employers.
- Be Ready To Put Yourself Out There
At virtual career fairs, it’s all the more important to exert yourself to make connections. Once an employer engages you in a chat, the ball is in your court to introduce yourself and ask questions about the organization and open positions. Attendees must present themselves to employers and feel confident doing so.
Follow up after the fair is imperative. The same professional courtesy applies during a virtual experience – and one of the strongest is a professional thank you and follow-up correspondence. Ask for the contact information of the representative and send them a thank you email or letter within a day of the job fair.
Virtual job fairs are an ideal way for employers, recruiters, and job seekers to connect from the convenience of their homes or offices. So if you’re disabled, live in a rural area where job fairs aren’t commonly held, or are a military spouse, for example, you can attend a virtual job fair—and reap all the benefits as if you were attending a traditional one.