Many everyday activities have migrated online because of the coronavirus. So, don’t be surprised if your job search leads you to a virtual career fair. These tech-facilitated events are a way to get your foot in the virtual door, past the initial screening and on to the next round of interviews.
If finding a job is your priority right now, here’s your guide to virtual career fairs.
Necessity: The Mother of Invention
Colleges, industry associations and individual companies are just some of the organizations that use career fairs to attract, screen and potentially employ a lot of people through one event. The virtual version of these fairs began a few years ago with the same goal but a convenient location change—hiring companies and job seekers meet online instead of in a student union or convention center.
Now with the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing it requires, the digital cloud is more than just a convenient place to hold career fairs—it’s ideal. In some areas, it’s the only event option available to companies that are currently hiring.
For job seekers, virtual career fairs offer a convenient way to connect with hiring companies. For example:
- You don’t have to leave your home, your kids or your current job to attend.
- It takes much less time out of your busy schedule to participate.
- There’s no need to travel to meet with employers in other cities.
How to Find and Register for a Virtual Career Fair
Search online for “virtual career fairs near me.” Many are hosted by event vendors or recruiting firms and feature multiple employers in one fair. Individual companies and trade associations also host their own events and typically advertise them on their websites.
Once you find a virtual career fair to attend, complete the online registration. This might include uploading your resume, so make sure it stands out. Some events even request a picture of you. Pick a professional-looking photo and avoid cutesy ones with your significant other or dog.
You’ll receive an email confirming your registration, which typically includes instructions for attending the event, plus how to make sure your device works with the event’s technology.
At the appointed time, log in to the virtual career fair as instructed and start selling yourself just like you would when meeting an employer in-person, with the few exceptions below.
Beside the venue, virtual career fairs differ from in-person ones in a few important ways:
- Technology Reliance: Your participation depends on technology, so decide ahead of time what device you’re going to use and follow the link provided in your confirmation email to make sure your laptop, smart phone or tablet is compatible with the event’s platform.
- Video and Audio Capability: You want hiring managers to be able to see and hear you clearly. Check that your device’s webcam is turned on and sit so that your face is fully visible. Use headphones to drown out background noise, such as your dog barking or your doorbell ringing.
- Space Considerations: Think about where you’re going to be when you’re participating in virtual career fairs. A well-lit, quiet space with a clutter-free background is best.
- Communication Variables: Depending on the host’s preferences and the platform they’re using, your interaction with hiring managers can vary from one-on-one or group videoconferences to online chats or texts.
Otherwise, the things you need to do to be successful at virtual career fairs don’t differ from other job-hunting activities:
- Professional Resume: If you haven’t given your resume a good once-over recently, make sure it’s up-to-date, error-free and helps a hiring manager see how you’d fit into their company and the roles they have available. Consider including a personal brand statement on your resume and try to use job posting keywords to describe your skills and work experience.
- Preparation: Show your interest in hiring companies by looking at their websites, social media and recent news coverage. Your research can provide you with an easy ice-breaker and help you ask thoughtful questions. And have your elevator speech ready so that you can succinctly explain why you’re a great fit for their company.
- Professional Attire: Dress like the job is already yours. This is not the time for loungewear, even if the event uses only online chat or text messages. If things go well, an employer could request a videoconference interview on the spot.
- Interpersonal Interaction: Anytime you’re on camera, sit up straight, make eye contact and project confidence.
- Excellent communication: Slang, emojis, bad grammar and poor spelling are not good selling points, so don’t be lulled into using them when chatting online or texting with hiring managers.
Don’t Forget to Say Thanks
Good manners always apply. Send everyone you meet at virtual career fairs a thank-you email that reiterates your appreciation for their time along with your interest and qualifications.
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