A virtual career fair is simply a job fair that is online. Different employers have their own “booth” or chat room where you enter and chat individually with a recruiter. You may wait in a virtual line until it is your turn to speak to a representative. There can be a time limit on how long you can chat with an employer.
One advantage to attending a virtual fair is that you can stay in the privacy of my room and talk to employers. But preparation is still needed to get the most out of the event. Here are 9 tips to get the most out of a virtual career fair.
1. Check Your Internet Connection and Browser
Be sure that you are sitting in a room with a reliable internet connection and that your browser is up-to-date. It is best to use a desktop or laptop during the virtual career fair.
2. Research the Companies and Positions Before the Virtual Fair
It is not enough to just glance at the names of companies at the career fair and start chatting with a recruiter. Remember that you are speaking to a real person from the company, who expects you to know what their company is and what positions are open. By being knowledgeable, you can present your best self to someone who might be the one reading your resume and cover letter.
I made the mistake of going into a company’s chat room without doing much research. The recruiter began talking about home health aide positions, which I was not interested in. By doing proper research, I could have avoided this awkward conversation.
3. Make a List of the Top Companies and Positions
Remember there are other people who are interested in the same companies you are. It is best to immediately sign up to speak to the companies you are most interested in at the beginning of the fair. Only one person can engage with one representative at a time, so you want to sign up early before the “line” gets long. The good thing is that you can sign up for multiple chat rooms at a time.
4. Wear A Professional Outfit
The virtual career fair I attended did not allow for video chat, but some do. If there is a chance you might be talking to recruiters through video, be sure to wear a professional outfit at least from the waist up.
5. Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile
Employers may click on your profile and look at your LinkedIn page and resume. Be sure that they are updated and ready to go before the virtual career fair.
6. Use Professional Language
You still have to be professional in a virtual career fair! Use complete sentences and do not be tempted to use shortened words or internet slang in the chat room. Use emojis sparingly.
7. Have a Pitch Ready
To save time, have a brief pitch on who you are and what you bring to the table as a potential employee. A possible pitch can be, “My name is __________. I graduated from ________, and I have experience in public health research and data analysis.”
8. Ask, “What are You Looking For In A Successful Candidate?”
How often do you get a chance to talk to someone from Human Resources? Take initiative and ask how you can stand out amongst the competition. Remember that companies are eager to get to know you and are open to telling you what they are looking for. I found it helpful to ask about how to make my cover letter standout because I struggle with that the most.
9. Ask For Contact Information and Follow-up
You want to continue the conversation beyond the virtual career fair. Ask the recruiter for their contact information to further discuss the position and to send them your resume and cover letter. Put yourself out there!