Acing the In-Person & Virtual Job Fair
A job fair (also called career fair, career expo, or job expo) is an event where various employers and recruiters gather in a central location to give information to potential candidates. Job fairs are a great way for people to jump start their career and present opportunities for the advanced professional. Job fairs allow potential candidates to make a first impression to multiple companies, speak face-to-face with recruiters, fill out job applications, and ask questions to further examine the company.
There are two types of job fairs: in-person and virtual. This article will examine both types of job fairs and provide guidance on how to master them.
In-Person Job Fair
In-person job fairs are the traditional venues for these events where you will physically travel to a designated place and collaborate face-to-face with various companies. Companies will typically have established booths where they will meet with people, collect resumes, and exchange business cards. When you visit one of these employer booths and meet with a recruiter, be prepared to potentially have a first interview. Some considerations to keep in mind when participating in an in-person job fair include:
- Research – Research which companies will be at the event that you’re interested in and find out as much as possible about these companies before it starts. Be prepared to talk about the company and why you would be a great asset to them.
- Registration – You should register early to give employers enough time to review your qualifications before the event starts.
- Attendance – Although a career fair will run for several hours and there is no specific time you need to arrive, showing up when it begins will help you avoid the proverbial lines that occur to speak with employers. Additionally, some employers will leave earlier than the allotted time, especially if they’re not receiving much traffic towards the end.
- Dressing – Dress for the job fair as if you were dressing for an interview.
- Bring Your Resume – Although most resumes today are submitted in electronic format online, you’ll want to print out multiple hard copies of your resume on a good quality paper so you can personally hand them to each recruiter you speak with.
- Prepare Your Elevator Speech – Your elevator speech is a very brief “commercial” of who you are and how you can benefit an organization. Your elevator speech is very similar to your resume summary and is a great way to introduce yourself to the recruiters.
- Speaking with the Recruiter – Show the recruiter your enthusiasm for potentially working at their company. Ask relevant questions and be prepared to answer the most common interview questions that the recruiter may ask. Once the conversation is over, be sure to thank the recruiter for their time and request their business card. You’ll want to keep organized on exactly who you met with and any key points discussed.
- Follow-up – Send a follow up letter to each recruiter you met with that reiterates your excitement to potentially work for their company and briefly highlight why you would be a great fit. Also, be sure to follow the recruiter’s instructions about applying online for the position, which should be done quickly after the event.
Virtual Job Fair
Virtual job fairs are online events that are similar to in-person job fairs, which are scheduled events that begin and end at designated times. Online job fairs meet in a virtual live environment that are fully interactive and utilize chat rooms, messaging, teleconferencing, webcasts, webinars, and email to exchange information. People attending virtual job fairs will upload their resumes and may be matched with employers or browse the virtual company booths that are in attendance.
Online job fairs have been gaining popularity since 2005 and have many advantages for both employers and candidates over in-person job fairs. Employers save money by not having to physically set up booths and sending their recruiters to the events. Candidates save time and money by not having to physically travel to the events. Also, there is no geographic boundaries like in-person job fairs and the initial stages of recruiting are accelerated.
You’ll want to be well prepared before attending a virtual career fair. Signing up for an event and then being clueless on how to navigate correctly will reflect badly on you. Some considerations to keep in mind when participating in virtual job fair include:
- Research the Companies Attending – Just like in-person job fairs, it’s best to do your homework and see exactly which companies will be attending. This way, you can focus your efforts on a few select companies that you’re qualified for.
- Reviewing the event user guide – Virtual job fairs will usually have detailed instructions on exactly how to use their online platforms. Their user’s guide will show you how to set up your profile, attach your resume, locate the companies in attendance, request chats, network with the employers, and read the company materials.
- Test Your Equipment – Regardless of whether you’re planning on participating using a desktop, laptop, or mobile device, you’ll want to make sure everything is working correctly with a fully charged battery and reliable internet service. Ensure your camera and microphone are operating correctly so you can avoid any hassles once the fair gets underway.
- Designated Space – You’ll want to have a distraction-free environment that is clean and orderly. The lighting should be well enough where your face is clearly visible to the recruiter over video chat. The last thing you want is to have a video chat with a recruiter in a messy space with children screaming in the background.
- Dress Professionally – Dress as if you were going to an in-person interview.
- Take Notes – Just like in-person job fairs, you’ll want to keep detailed notes for each company/recruiter that you met with.
- Use Perfect Spelling and Grammar – In addition to connecting with recruiters via video conferencing, messengers and chats will be another key aspect of speaking with recruiters. Do not respond in haste or as if you’re texting a friend. Use well thought out responses with 100% accuracy in spelling and grammar. Remember, the recruiter can always scroll back and examine the dialogue to measure your professionalism.
- Prepare Your Elevator Speech – Prepare for your elevator speech just like you will for in-person job fairs and interviews.
- Communicating with the Recruiter – Treat the virtual job fair the same as an in-person job fair. Show the recruiter your enthusiasm for potentially working at their company, ask relevant questions, and be prepared to answer the most common interview questions. After your conversation. thank the recruiter for their time and request their business card. Keep track of exactly who you met with and any key points discussed.
- Follow-up – Send a thank you note to each recruiter that demonstrates your excitement to work for the company and quickly highlights why you’re a great fit.
Job fairs are great ways to network and potentially meet with 20+ hiring managers in a single day. Virtual job fairs are becoming increasingly popular and aren’t restricted by geographic limitations.
Regardless of whether you choose to participate at an in-person or virtual job fair, you’ll want to adequately prepare by researching the companies in attendance that you’re interested in, writing a professional resume, rehearsing your elevator speech, developing a list of questions to ask, being prepared to answer any questions confidently, and quickly following up.
Most candidates won’t receive job offers at job fairs; however, you should consider job fairs like a first interview that gives you a chance to sell yourself directly to the hiring managers.
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