Virtual Career Fairs

Attending a virtual career fair is much like visiting an in-person career fair, only from the much more relaxed setting of your private office or home.

Virtual career fairs have been the go-to screening strategy in many professional fields, such as education, design and sales for several years now, with other fields following suit, as the internet has radically altered the process of hiring across the board. Virtual career fairs have many advantages that can help you to locate your dream job in an easy and stress-free manner. Prepare for your virtual career fair experience by digitizing all vital job documents, such as your resume, cover letter, recommendations and college transcripts. Be prepared for possible webcam interviews, and know the basics of the companies that will be present so that you can answer questions knowledgeably and effectively.

Pros of a Virtual Career Fair

There is a variety of rare benefits associated with virtual career fairs. The first and most obvious benefit is the high level of convenience that virtual career fairs afford in allowing you to meet with hiring managers and human resources personnel from the comfort of your office chair, or even your sofa.

There are no travel expenses incumbent upon attending a virtual career fair, and it is possible to interview with companies from all over the world. Some virtual career fairs impose a small registry fee to be paid upon entry, but most are completely free of charge.

There is also typically only a very minimal amount of computer savviness necessary to attend a virtual career fair. You do not need to be a computer whiz to participate in simple point-and-click activities, to listen along to presentations, nor do you require special software to get the information available at virtual career fairs.

Another perk of virtual career fairs is that they eliminate immediate physical bias in hiring. While companies are legally prohibited from discrimination, first impressions do matter. In a virtual career fair you have the opportunity for your resume and supporting documents to speak first and impress administrative personnel before they ever get a chance to look at you, and this can mean a higher success rate in getting offered an interview or position, simply because it takes the human factor out of the equation.

Virtual career fairs also give you the advantage of being able to meet directly with recruiting personnel from companies to which you might not otherwise have had direct access. It can be hard to get your foot in the door if you don’t have a contact or someone to make a recommendation on your behalf.

Virtual career fairs level this playing field and open the door to job postings you might never have known about any other way. Whether you come away from a virtual career fair with a job or not, you nearly always come away with new contacts in your area of expertise, which is invaluable for growing your professional network.

Cons of a Virtual Career Fair

There are some negative aspects of virtual career fairs that you will want to be aware of so that you can navigate common pitfalls and make the most of your experience.

One of the biggest drawbacks to a virtual career fair is that there is a distinct absence of the kind of human contact that often serves to formulate the unspoken attributes of a recruiter’s first impression of you. Without eye contact, verbal cues and body language, it can be hard at times for hiring managers to see your true personality shine. To avoid having this come to bear negatively on your application process, make sure your resume contains personal touches and creativity. Include details about aspects of your personal life, such as hobbies and pastimes you may share with your family and friends. Be personable, affable and open as you “chat” online with administrative personnel. Overly formal or stodgy language will generally only contribute to the impersonal atmosphere you are trying to prevent.

By contrast, because written language is almost exclusively the agent of communication between you and potential employers at a virtual career fair, use your best grammar and spelling, making sure to check and double check anything you type before you send it because, unlike in face-to-face conversation, you cannot retract or reword something you have misspelled or misspoken. Grammatical errors can make you look less-educated than you are, and can harm your chances of being offered an interview.

Remember the basic fact that a virtual career fair is largely a pre-screening event, more than it is a hiring festival, though a great deal of hiring does occur on the spot through virtual career fairs. It may also, at times, be difficult to feel as though you are getting as much one-on-one interaction at virtual career fairs. Often times, recruiters speak to two or three people in a group chat or address the entire assembly with basic information.

Do not be shy about politely asking for more time or a private phone call/email from any hiring personnel with whom you feel you need more individual time, or with whom you had a strong connection. Remember to be polite and straightforward, but never demanding. The ultimate goal of a virtual career fair is to help companies find suitable candidates in the fastest manner possible, and thus, everything that you do or say while logged in to the fair can impact your ability to land a job.

Tips for Success at a Virtual Career Fair

What are the secrets for success at a virtual career fair? The main component is to show up prepared and show up as you, yourself. Let your personality shine through in the questions that you answer. Make sure that your resume stands out for being the most polished, the most personal and the easiest to read. Write a glowing cover letter that is specifically relevant to the field being hired for at the virtual career fair. If you have a professional portfolio, lookbook or other formalized record of your previous work, digitize those documents, and have them ready to showcase at the virtual career fair. The same holds true for letters of recommendation and any awards or accolades that you have received in your previous experience.

Make sure to do your homework on all of the companies that you plan to engage with at the virtual career fair, and never show up not being able to answer simple questions about company policy or history. Register early, as virtual career fairs often have an entry cap and can fill up quickly. If you are not technologically savvy:

  • Spend a little time prior to the virtual career fair getting familiar with basic procedures surrounding the app or platform that will be utilized for the fair.
  • Know how to work the camera and microphone on your computer.

Remember that a virtual career fair is no different than an in-person fair, in that you have to present yourself in a way to get noticed in the crowd. The best way to convey your top qualities at a virtual career fair, and possibly even come away with a job, is to make certain that you are representing your full qualifications by being eager, open and digitally adapted.

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