Whether you’re a seasoned employee in your industry, a recent college graduate or somewhere in between, job searching at a virtual career fair is new territory for all. How are you supposed to make a great first impression, create meaningful connections with potential employers and stand out from other candidates when you can’t meet recruiters face to face?
The key here is to take the same concepts you would use at an in-person career fair but modify them to fit in the virtual world of recruiting and job hunting. You can still create those personal connections with employers despite being separated by a computer – it will just take some getting used to!
Here are 7 tips to help you find a job during a virtual career fair.
- Do Your Research
- Update Your Resume
- Schedule Interviews with Employers
- Practice Your Elevator Pitch
- Create a List of Questions
- Stay Organized
- Follow Up
Do Your Research
Once you’ve decided to attend your association’s virtual career fair, research the employers that will also be attending and looking to hire qualified candidates like yourself. Visit their employer profile (if they have one with your association) and check out the jobs they have posted on the career center. From there, you can easily view the types of positions they are looking to fill and you can determine if any of them are of interest to you that you’d like to interview for.
After you’ve made a list of the potential employers and jobs you want to pursue, browse their websites and LinkedIn pages to learn more about their company, what products or services they sell, company culture and more. A helpful way to find out more about their company culture is to read online reviews from current and previous employees. This will help you better understand the environment, management and co-workers you’ll be working with and determine if this is still a good fit for you.
Update Your Resume
When was the last time you updated or refreshed your resume? If it’s been a while, be sure to take a look and update it with any information or work-related experiences that will make you stand out from other candidates. Recent graduates should consider any internship experiences they’ve had, class work or projects that are relevant to the position, or other jobs held where those skills would translate to desired positions in your industry. Also consider any online courses or certifications you’ve received that would make you a more marketable candidate. Things like software or program certifications will be very attractive to recruiters since they won’t have to spend as much time training you in the programs they use regularly.
Another option is to create variations of your resume that are tailored to specific employers or job descriptions. For example, if you are applying to a few different jobs within the same industry, but have different job descriptions and desired skill or work experiences, you can develop different versions of your resume so you hit on all the major points that a specific company is looking for.
Schedule Interviews with Employers
Now that you have your list of employers and an updated resume, start reaching out to employers to schedule interview times with them. Be sure to keep track of who accepts your requests and get them scheduled in your calendar so you don’t accidentally double book. This will help you plan out your days and give you enough time to prepare for each interview.
Also, be on the lookout for employers reaching out to you for interviews. If you have a job seeker profile set up through your associations job board, make sure your updated resume is readily available and share your contact information.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
As cliché as it may sound, practicing your elevator pitch in front of the mirror or with a friend will help you nail that first impression. It’s important to capture the recruiter’s attention and efficiently convey your qualifications for the position. When you feel comfortable with what you want to say, the message will be concise and you’ll sound more professional. It also shows that you have invested time and energy into the interview, which many recruiters will notice and appreciate.
Start your pitch by sharing the relevant work experience and highlight the skills you have that the recruiter is looking for in a candidate. Be sure to reference the job post to use keywords and phrases that pertain to your qualifications. This shows once again you’ve taken the time to research the position and prepare for the interview. If you are a recent graduate, your pitch will be slightly different. You’ll want to introduce yourself and follow with your major, year in school and area of interest, followed by any work-related experiences you’ve had that qualify you for the position.
Once you feel comfortable and confident with your pitch, you’re ready for the real deal!
Create a List of Questions
As you interview with multiple employers, have a list of 2 to 3 questions to ask them, but be sure to tailor the questions to each employer and job description. This helps you better understand the role and the company so you can make an informed decision about your career path. This is where your research from earlier will come in handy, but also make sure the questions you ask could not be easily answered from their website. Well thought out questions go a long way with recruiters and shows you put in the time and effort to prepare.
Some examples of insightful questions to ask are:
- What kind of challenges have previous employees faced in this role or what challenges do you believe a person in this role will face?
- Are there any growth opportunities within this position?
- What skills or characteristics do you believe it takes to be successful in this role?
- How will success in this role be measured?
If you are a recent graduate, some questions you may also want to ask are:
- How has your degree prepared you for your current position?
- What do you like most about your role and working at (insert company name here)?
- How have your college experiences prepared you for your career?
As stated before, keep your calendar updated so you can keep track of your interview schedule and attend other workshops during the career fair (if offered). This helps take the stress out of your week and easily see what you need to do next.
Since your interviews will be conducted virtually, test any of the video conferencing tools you’ll be using the day before to make sure they are working correctly so you’re prepared for any mishaps that could take place. Familiarize yourself with the platform and any functions you’ll need to use like muting, screen sharing, and more.
During your actual interviews, take notes of your conversations with the interviewers. Write down things you liked and disliked about the role or the company. When you refer back to your notes later, this will help determine which roles you want to pursue and the pros and cons that come with each position.
Following up with employers after you’ve interviewed or talked with them is a crucial step in landing a job. A day or two after your interview, send the recruiter a follow up email thanking them for their time. Since they have probably interviewed many people in that short period of time, reintroduce yourself and use your notes to include personal anecdotes within the email so they can also easily recall your conversation. If you have examples of your work, be sure to link to them or include them as attachments.
Some examples of personalizing your email are including a topic you discussed that you both had interest in or a memory from, or anything you enjoyed about the conversation that was memorable. Let them know if you’d be interested in moving forward with any potential next steps in the interview process with something as simple as “I look forward to hearing back from you about any next steps.” This helps speed the process up so they know you are interested in the position.