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Virtual Career Fairs
Virtual Career Fairs
Career fairs are a great opportunity to engage with employers and network, developing your knowledge of the company and opportunities but also making key connections that can help you in your job search strategy in the coming weeks, months and even years ahead.
With the impact of COVID-19 and the recent move to remote working, chances are, your next career fair will be a virtual one. Be prepared, understand what to expect and know what you can do to optimise the results of your employer engagement and networking before, during and after the virtual career fair, with these top tips gathered from recruiters and HR professionals.
What is a Virtual Career Fair?
- Virtual career fairs are where jobseekers meet with employers and discuss employment opportunities. The only difference between this and a traditional career fair is that it’s held virtually on an interactive platform.
- You can choose to join various rooms within the virtual career fair. Each room holds a different employer participating in the career fair. When you enter a room, the employer receives a notification. 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 join 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 also want to conduct a one to one video interview or video chat with you face to face, so be prepared.
Advantages of Virtual Career Fairs
- Well prepped - It’s easy to keep prep material and notes near at hand since you are attending from home with your laptop or on your phone.
- Convenient - no travel time or expense and you can be targeted and efficient in your interactions.
- Efficient & Targeted - to optimise the value of your networking, you can seek out specific companies and opportunities by researching who you want to talk to beforehand.
- Less Stress - Connecting with people online removes a lot of the stress. You can plan what you want to say without stumbling over your words.
Before the Virtual Career Fair
- Register ahead of time, check the time zone and download any software required.
- Check Your Tech - You’ll want to make sure your device and your internet has the capacity to support you. It is preferable to have a camera in case an employer would like to speak with you face to face, but you don’t necessarily have to have a device with a camera. Headphones can be very useful if you need to block out background noise where you are. You want to switch off app notifications and pop-ups that may interfere with your live interactions at the fair.
- Research Participating Organizations -Use LinkedIn to network and talk to other grads working in the companies for some deeper research that shows you initiative and interest rather than just looking up the company website. Some Virtual Career Fairs will only release the attending companies info on the day of the fair so allow yourself some time to research in the morning.
- Prepare Your Questions - At a career fair, your goal is to get the information you need to decide if a company or role is a good fit for you.
- Practice Your Pitch - How will you introduce yourself? Why are you interested in the company? How is your previous work experience relevant? Link to further tips on how to prepare your elevator pitch.
- Prepare Your CV & Online Profiles - If an employer asks you for your cv you don’t want to delay in sending it. The same goes for your LinkedIn account and social media accounts. Some platforms allow you to upload your cv to your account, so it is accessible and ready to hand over to any employers you meet with at the career fair.
At the Virtual Career Fair
- Dress Professionally - You may be at home, but just like video interviews, potential employers will be judging your professionalism on how you present online.
- Your Location - Attend from a distraction-free, quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
- Approach Employers - It’s easier to fade into the background in a virtual career fair so you really must put yourself out there. It’s a great opportunity to develop your network, even if the company isn’t hiring for your skill area at the moment, it could be an important future contact.
- Use Professional Language - Much of your communication will be done through written text in the chat function of the platform. It’s important to demonstrate strong written communication skills. Students may revert to text lingo and loose grammar rules, but this is not appropriate for a professional virtual setting.
- Body Language - During a video chat you should look at the camera as much as possible, not the picture of the other person on the screen. Looking at the camera is as close as you can get to making eye contact with the other person, if you look at the screen it will appear to the other side like you’re staring off into space.
- Take Notes - After speaking with employers, write down a few things that you discussed and the names of who you have interacted with.
- Next Steps - Ask for next steps and contact information.
After the Virtual Career Fair
- Follow Up - It’s good practice to reach out the next day with a thank you, it’s the perfect opportunity to build your network. Keep notes of all contacts you make and follow up with LinkedIn connection requests.
- Send Your CV - Send a copy of your cv and remind them why you are interested in their company and what you could bring to the role you are interested in.
- Notes - Use your notes to mention something that you discussed or enjoyed about the conversation.