Tips For Attending a Virtual Career Event
With the sharp uptick in candidates hitting job boards and seeking out new opportunities recently, there is more need than ever for career events. However, without the ability to meet in person, options are limited to online resources. Another option for job seeking online is attending a virtual career fair. These online events have been gaining steam in recent years as technology develops, but they’re now more relevant than ever. A traditional career fair has a format that is fairly easy to understand. Candidates walk around a large room and connect with recruiters that represent a variety of employers.
A virtual career fair, on the other hand, has a similar process but in a slightly different way. There are several platforms that host virtual career fairs, but the experience will be fairly similar no matter which one the event uses. Common features unique to a virtual format include webinar presentations, webcasts, live chat, chat rooms, and virtual booths where you can speak directly to employers and sponsors. Attendees can join from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, making this format a great option to avoid commuting. Platforms like WorkCast or vFairs also provide more specific information, so attendees can get comfortable with how to navigate their way around before jumping into an event.
BEFORE THE EVENT
Register on time
Registering in advance gives you early access to the company booths so you can start your research and preparation. Fill out your registration information completely and upload your resume. Typically, recruiters will have access to your information before, during and after the event.
Prepare for the Event
Preparation for a virtual event is similar to that of a traditional job fair, and it is crucial since the conversations are short and to the point!
Once you’re registered, you’ll be given access to the event lobby. From there you can visit the booths and research the attending companies in preparation for meeting with them. Browse the company information and their job opportunities to find jobs you are qualified for and interested in, so you can bring up these specific positions when chatting with the recruiters.
Use other resources to gain information about those companies and their job openings, such as LinkedIn, the company’s website, etc. to learn as much as possible. Jot down questions you have about companies that you can ask during the online text chats.
Test Technology and Internet Speed
Although chatting with employers is optional and you’re not as exposed as in in-person career events, you should still take measures to test your tech beforehand. If the goal is to land a job, the last thing you want is for your computer to blow your chance before you even get to speak.
Know who will be there.
Review the list of registered companies and identify organizations you are most interested in pursuing. Do some research and explore the companies that interest you, focusing on mission, culture, and skills valued. Prepare a list of questions for each employer based on your research of the organization. Consider the following examples of types of questions to ask.
Know what you will say about yourself, your skills, and what you can bring to the company. Describe specific experiences where you demonstrated your strengths; examples will make you a stronger candidate. Practice this introduction with someone else, so that you get comfortable introducing yourself. Better yet – practice this virtually during a Zoom call with a friend!
Prepare your resume. Update your resume, and make sure that it highlights your most marketable skills. Employers may have the option to collect resumes through an online resume book, so we recommend that you save your resume as a PDF to ensure a smoother upload. Also, make sure to have multiple versions (if needed) based on the different organizations/positions you anticipate engaging with during the fair.
Apply to posted positions online
You don’t have to wait to attend a career fair online to apply. After researching available jobs prior to a career event, apply away, then use the fair as an opportunity to make yourself known to the right recruiters and contacts. This proactive step will get you first in line ahead of most other attendees.
DURING THE EVENT
Dress up and find an appropriate background
While it’s not always possible to have a dedicated room for all your professional calls, you still want to avoid calling in from a distracting environment. Virtual career fairs that require video expose a part of your life that recruiters would otherwise never see. Look at anything you show as a part of your own branding and clean it up to reflect the “you” that you want to highlight. A t-shirt and dirty dishes lying about just don’t give a good impression.
Also, even at a virtual career events there is the possibility of a video chat with an employer, so we recommend dressing the same way you would for an in-person fair. We encourage students to dress in “smart” casual or business casual attire etc.
Visit a Booth
Enter a company booth from the event lobby. Once in the booth, you can participate in a general booth discussion, view the company representatives in attendance, enter a recruiter’s conversation queue, or leave your resume and a note for company representatives to view.
If there is a wait, you can be entered in the queue of multiple company booths at once. When a recruiter is available, you will receive a notification dialog and audible alert to accept the next conversation. Once you are in a chat, your position in the other booths will be held while you are chatting.
Rehearse your unique story
In addition to a solid resume, strong LinkedIn profile, and good background knowledge of employers, it’s also wise to rehearse your unique narrative. That means crafting a verbal personal statement that precisely explains your professional history, present, and desired future. The more honest and truer to yourself you stay, the more you’ll stick out as a unique candidate. Recruiters have heard just about every recycled pitch in the book, so think about how you can make yourself memorable.
The one-on-one timed chat sessions are similar to instant messaging. The interaction allows you to “meet” with the company representatives, so be ready to type. Don’t wait for the recruiter to start typing, introduce yourself right away! You will be able to review the recruiter’s contact information and also see how your profile looks to the recruiter.
Zero in on a sector
Rather than preparing multiple resumes for distinct career paths, focus all your attention on a specific sector, industry, or position. By tailoring your resume and elevator pitch to a narrower selection of jobs, you’ll be more confident in communicating exactly what you need to say.
Take Notes on the Conversation
After each chat, write down any pertinent information that will help you best remember that conversation, including the recruiter’s name and contact information. This will be useful in jogging your memory when following-up after the event.
AFTER THE EVENT
Don’t just swoop into a chat and disappear after asking a single question! A vital part of the process is following up after a virtual career event to seal the deal. Recruiters will talk to hundreds of candidates in a short time frame, but after it’s over, you’ll get much more undivided attention.
Send an email thanking the recruiter for his or her time. Include any unique details that you found helpful from your conversation or webinar they led to provide some context of who you are. Lastly, you can discuss your excitement to continue the conversation offline and apply for upcoming positions.