In 2020, a lot has changed including the way job-seekers connect with potential employers. Online or virtual career fairs are now the go-to way to find jobs and many students are now finding their dream jobs over video! Despite the fact that you’re now able to conduct the job search from the comfort of your own home, you’ll still need to prepare yourself.
Here are our six top tips for making connections at online career fairs.
To borrow from the Scouts, the most important thing you can do is to be prepared. Even though there is slightly less prep work involved in virtual career fairs - you won’t have to travel to the location and then fight your way through crowds of other hopefuls - there is still a fair amount of preparation you should be doing before you sign into an online careers event.
First things first, you should always have your CV/resume and samples of your work on deck and ready to go.
When you’re preregistering you’ll be able to see the companies that are promoting their attendance. Make sure you’re prepared by doing some research into the employers that you’ll want to meet so that when you’re talking to them you’ll have at least a basic idea of their company, the size of their company, what they do and how they do it. On some virtual fair platforms, like Career Fair Plus, you may have to sign up for meetings with employers in advance of the fair, and you should make sure you do this early as it's first-come first-served!
The final two pieces of prep work you’ll have to do include double-checking your technology is up to the challenge and arriving on time. A good thing to consider is to make sure you’ve got a backup option on hand just in case your laptop fails or your WiFi cuts out.
Practice Your Pitch
Career fairs are all about making a major impact in a fairly minor amount of time. Remember that employers will be meeting with hundreds of job-seekers over the course of the fair so if you’re looking to stand a chance you’ll have to find a way to stand out - professionally!
Our top tip for something you should do before the fair is to practice how you’ll introduce yourself, how you’ll find a clear, concise and catchy way to pitch your skills and even practice some responses to typical interview questions. If you can't practice with someone else, practice in front of a mirror or record yourself so you can see your body language and how you speak.
You don’t want to sound too rehearsed but, by practicing some answers and finding relevant ways to integrate your accomplishments into your anecdotal answers, you will sound impressive, skillful and confident. If you’re interested in further resources that might help you stand out from the crowd in an interview setting, head here.
Look The Part
Even though you’re in the comfort of your own home and it’s a virtual fair, you still need to project professionalism. Many virtual fairs conduct video meetings with employers and you cannot make the mistake of coming across too casual. Check out this post for tips on virtual video meetings. You’ll want to be dressed for the industry you’re looking to be employed in; if you’re looking to be employed in the corporate sector, you’ll want to be dressed in business attire, but if you’re looking to be employed in a creative industry then you can get away with a business casual look.
Another thing to think about is what’s visible behind you in your video conferencing call. You should try and seek out a neutral background in a quiet place in your home where you won’t be interrupted. However, you might be living in a place where your only personal space is your bedroom, if that’s the case just try and make sure your room is clean and tidy.
When you’re attending a career fair you’ll likely be talking to dozens of recruiters or potential employers within a short period of time and it can be hard to keep your facts straight without taking notes. When you’re taking notes during an online career fair you should go analog and use a paper and pen so it doesn’t look like you’re distractedly doing other things on your computer. Explain to the representative that you’ll be taking notes, so that they’re not thrown and, as an added bonus, you’ll appear diligent, interested, and organized.
“Any Questions For Us?”
A classically awkward part of any job interview and networking event is when recruiters flip the script and ask if you have any questions for them. There’s plenty of advice out there about how to choose questions that will help you out in the hiring process and help you learn more about the company. A question like ‘why has this position become available?’ will tell you whether a company has a high staff turnover which might indicate a poor working environment. Another great question to ask is ‘are there any additional skills or qualities that you are looking for in a candidate that would make them an ideal fit?’ This can give you a great opportunity to sell yourself one more time before you leave the interview or to learn about which skills might push you to the top of the pool of candidates. Perhaps you have the right creative skills and personality but you lack some business know-how which you could easily fix by taking an online business course or perhaps you just need to finesse your technical skills before you’d be ready for a job with their company.
It’s important to follow up with recruiters after the virtual career fair. While you’re talking to them, make sure to show initiative and ask what the best way to follow up or stay in touch would be. If you connect with someone on LinkedIn or get their email address, it’s important to make sure you follow up within a day or two and establish a connection. Send a polite follow-up note, thanking them for their expertise and asking about how you would continue to apply for a position at their company. Hopefully, this is the first step towards finding a rewarding career in a great company.