Attending a virtual job fair is a relatively easy way to get in touch with recruiters, hiring managers, and career professionals. They are offered by an increasing number of job board websites such as Flexjobs.com, Industry associations and member associations AARP to the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC). Some companies also host their own virtual job fairs. You can search on “virtual job fairs” LinkedIn A list of upcoming events can be found on the website.
The truth about virtual job fairs
But getting a job at a virtual job fair goes a long way. Employers typically use the trade shows to collect CVs that could lead to future telephone and possibly face-to-face interviews.
Most virtual trade fair operators have technical assistants to help you with problems.
Another caveat: Virtual job fairs are a mixed bag in terms of navigation and content. Some are elegant events that feature Zoom on-site interviews and lively discussions. Others are merely repositories for superficial information about employers and references to website job boards. Unfortunately, you won’t have those casual, face-to-face conversations with recruiters and other job seekers that you can have at face-to-face job fairs.
AARP is the giant of virtual job fairs for job seekers over 50; It has been hosting them since 2014. (Full Disclosure: I have served as an expert on AARP in its live chat rooms). AARP’s next virtual career fair, which is scheduled for September, will feature employers who have signed their employer promise and say they value experienced workers. Participants can also meet in network chat rooms.
“People need support now, and if you lose a job for the first time in your fifties or sixties you will be unemployed and your world will be upside down. Supporting others is really important, ”said Susan Weinstock, AARP vice president, financial resilience programming.
For advice on how job hunters can get the most out of virtual job fairs, I interviewed several insiders. And I threw in my own tips.
Virtual job fair logistics
First, the logistics: registration is usually free. You will likely be asked to fill out a profile and upload a photo and basic résumé.
When you receive your confirmation you will be given a link to check your computer to make sure you are ready to enter the show when the digital doors open.
If you are unable to set the live date, when you register you typically have 30 days to visit the website, view employer-listed jobs, and watch webinars.
Virtual job fair technology
Now for the technology, once you register, you will likely receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to determine if your computer meets the system requirements. Test the technology before the event, said Manolita Moore, vice president of exhibit sales and operations at NAVC.
In general, a Mac or PC desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet is fine. And if you have a technical glitch, don’t panic. Most virtual trade fair operators have technical assistants to help you with problems.
While some virtual career fairs have video chat built into their platform, many rely on text. To avoid typos or misspellings, type slowly and read your question or answer carefully before clicking Submit. Avoid emoticons.
“Make sure you are in a place where you are relaxed and free of distractions so you can focus,” said Moore. Use headphones for the sharpest sound and to avoid feedback or echoes. Small wired or bluetooth earbuds work great.
Check your camera view when you log in to make sure your face is well-lit from the front. Pro tip: I use two desk lamps, but you can add a ring light as well.
As a reminder of where to look, place a sticker next to your camera at the top and center of your screen.
“Maintain eye contact and practice active listening,” said Christine Cruzvergara, vice president of higher education and student success at Handshake, a digital job search platform whose products enable over 500,000 employers to conduct virtual recruiting and events.“For many of us, it doesn’t feel natural to stare into a camera – because it isn’t. “
As a reminder of where to look, place a sticker next to your camera at the top and center of your screen. Skip the playful zoom background of a beach or the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s distracting. Additionally, your actual office background can provide positive subliminal information about you and your personality that can work in your favor and help you stand out as a candidate.
Make a good impression at a virtual job fair
And now how to do your best:
“Preparation is key,” said Moore. “Run dry. Register in good time and check the type of jobs and the list of participating companies. “
Once you know which employers will be represented, visit their websites and social media pages and do online searches for the latest news about them. This will help you ask smarter questions and show your diligence.
“It’s not just about knowing the position you’re applying for and the company you’re interested in, it’s also about having ideas for the larger industry you’re entering,” said Cruzvergara.
She said you should be able to speak credibly about emerging trends or pressing issues this industry is facing – if you can, use technical jargon – and ask thoughtful questions about how the company will contribute to that conversation.
Create multiple versions of your résumé to suit the jobs you want to apply for or are applying for Highlight keywords and phrases used in job postings.
Also, check your LinkedIn profile before the event and update it if necessary, Weinstock said. “Employers will use LinkedIn to view you.”
One way to get excited about the virtual meet and greet event is to pull out your old performance reviews.
Weinstock said, “These will remind you of accomplishments that you have probably forgotten. Make a bulleted list and put it in front of you. It can calm your nerves because when a recruiter or hiring manager asks about your previous challenges and how you solved them, you won’t be thinking on the fly. “
A clever idea: post sticky notes on your desktop to inform you of three key selling points. This way, when a chat conversation with a recruiter or employer reps starts, you can focus.
“Be ready with your elevator slot,” said Weinstock. “Think for a minute, ‘This is me and this is what I do.'”
And emphasize the soft skills that you bring with you. She added, “Older workers have these wonderful soft skills. You are a problem solver. You’re calm under pressure. You are empathetic. You have a great ability to listen and make decisions. You can’t train for that. Emphasize these skills. “
Look at the part
Recruiters may ask if you can start a video interview on site, usually Zoom or Skype. So you want to be dressed like you would if you met in an office.
“Not only do you put the part on, but bring the same energy and enthusiasm to the virtual interview that you need for a face-to-face interaction,” said Cruzvergara.
She added, “Remember to smile and nod occasionally, as you would in a face-to-face conversation. And limit any distractions around you so you are not tempted to look away from your computer screen. “
After the virtual job fair, send “thank you” emails to recruiters and HR managers you’ve spoken to along with your résumé. Mention something from your conversation as a prompt or reminder of who you are.
One last thing about virtual job fairs, “Be open to new opportunities when you look at the job openings,” said Weinstock. “Given the economy we now live in, you need to think about your skills and see how this can be applied outside of your normal area of expertise. Think creatively about ways to use your skills in new ways.
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