4 Steps to Succeed in a Virtual Career Fair
By Joana Scharinger | Career Counselor | Office of Career & Life Design
Are you used to working from home? What about having several Zoom meetings a day, chatting with friends via video, and virtually attending social events? A new era seems to be just starting, and virtual interactions will likely become the new normal. Job fairs are no different, so here are some crucial tips on preparing for a virtual career fair and making the most out of your virtual interactions:
1. Prepare Ahead of Time:
- Registration: The key to career fair success is preparing ahead of time, and the first thing to do is register. Consider registering for the event as early as possible since some fairs have an attendance limit.
- Research: Check the event’s website for the participating organizations. As you learn more about each employer, search online for their open positions and get insights about their mission, culture, and services. Start creating a list of questions you want to ask each of them on the day of the event.
- Technology: If the virtual fair is using a conference platform that you are not familiar with, watch some tutorials to avoid any last-minute technical issues. Test your technology ahead of time by checking your computer camera, microphone, and internet connection.
- Resume: Another essential step to prepare in advance is your resume. Make sure to update your resume and have it reviewed by a career consultant or industry professional before the event. Some organizations will allow you to apply for positions during the fair and will ask for your resume on the spot. Others might refer you to their website. In any case, you should have an updated version of your resume ready to share via chat or email.
2. Sharpen your Communication Skills:
Communication is crucial for any event, but even more important for online interactions. Practice having strong body language, including eye contact, active listening, smiling, and nodding, as you would during an in-person event. Prepare your elevator pitch as well as asking questions and initiating conversations. Be aware that some virtual career fairs might not allow for one-on-one time with recruiters. Instead, you could be joining group video chats with an employer representative along with other attendees. In that case, you will need to practice how to stand out in a group setting and join and exit a conversation professionally. Show your interest by asking thoughtful questions and appearing enthusiastic about the company. Having several questions ready will be helpful in case some of them are answered earlier.
3. Dress for Success:
Some recruiters recommend that you treat the career fairs as interviews. You will probably not land a job offer or even an interview in the event. However, this will be your first contact with employer representatives, and you want to make a first good impression. Dress as you would for an in-person interview. Wear professional attire (the whole outfit – even for virtual events!), set up a neutral background, and check for good lighting.
4. Follow Up:
Career fairs are an excellent opportunity to build your network and create new connections. Make sure you follow up with employers you spoke with at the event by sending a thank-you note and any requested materials such as resume and cover letter. It’s important to mention in your message where you met them and what you spoke about. It is encouraged to take notes during the event to remember the details of each opportunity, the recruiter’s names, and other relevant information. Keep in mind that these recruiters attend several career fairs and chat with hundreds of people and may need a detail of your interaction to spark their memory.