In the digital age, many organizations are now opting for virtual career fairs. This format benefits both employers and job seekers – no travel expenses and no long lines – but the online nature requires special prep ahead of time.
Online conferences and career fairs use various software platforms (e.g., on24 and 6connex) with similar layouts. These software programs still need further development to promote a collaborative environment for effective online networking (and personally, I find the fake people to be a little awkward), but online events provide an extra opportunity to network and job hunt on a geographically limitless basis.
To save time and to ensure a good experience, here is a list of suggestions on how to prepare for a virtual career fair (many of these tips also apply to online conferences):
- Design a generic resume for uploading to your career fair profile or post the resume on a personal website and list the web address in your profile. Alternatively, consider making a detailed LinkedIn profile and posting that URL as the website in your profile, so an employer can easily link to your info.
- Prepare a three-sentence statement (i.e., elevator pitch) about yourself that includes one sentence on each component: background, skills and interests. You can cut and paste this statement into a chat box or recite during a video chat as an introduction. Also, remember to use complete sentences, proper grammar and be professional!
- Take time off work to participate in the career fair and find an area clear of distractions (it’s tempting to sit at your work desk but consider making up the hours in the evening or use vacation time.)
- Sit at a desk or table with a blank wall as a backdrop, turn on adequate lighting, use a headset and test your audio/visual equipment with the help desk technician at the online fair.
- As soon as you can log into the career fair, fill out your profile completely. Also, navigate through the virtual environment to orient yourself with each room (e.g., exhibit hall, auditorium and lounge), and check out the schedule of events. Be sure to view any introductory videos designed to help you find your way around the fair, and ask the help desk technician questions (if needed).
- Do your research – look through the list of available employers, research their open positions/company profiles and narrow down the list of employers. As early as possible, sign up for an appointment with each targeted employer. If you don’t hear from the recruiter at your scheduled time (allow 15-30 minutes for appointment overlap), send a message to the recruiter at the exhibit booth to verify your time.
- Network during the career fair by searching profiles of fellow participants and identify people with related career interests or attributes (e.g., company affiliation). You can reach out through a private chat to introduce yourself.
- Take advantage of any other career development services offered during the fair (e.g., seminars and one-on-one career counseling), and use the “my briefcase” option to save links and files that can be downloaded to your computer.
- Follow-up with each recruiter after the career fair by sending a short email to say thank you, reiterate why you are interested in the company and remind them of your skills and qualifications. Plus, send emails or LinkedIn connect requests to the other people with whom you networked.
- 6 Tips to Stand Out at a Virtual Career Fair by Project Management Institute (PMI)
List of organizations that host virtual career fairs:
- American Chemical Society
- Hire Big Ten Consortium
- Veteran Recruiting
- Women for Hire
Discussion Point: Do you have any personal experiences with virtual career fairs and any tips to share?