If you’ve been to job fairs, you know how frustrating they can be. You show up with a pile of resumes – just like hundreds of other people do. You talk with representatives from a few companies and give them one of your resumes – just like hundreds of other people do. You attend a few breakout sessions and watch a few company videos – just like hundreds of other people do. Then when it’s over you and those hundreds of other people leave, wondering whether your resume has landed in the right pile and whether you are going to hear anything from any hiring companies.
A Better Way to Find Your Next Job
Enter the virtual job fair. It takes the whole job fair experience online, and makes the whole process work better for both job-seekers and hiring companies. Why are virtual job fairs better? Here’s a quote from the University of Maryland’s website . . .
“Virtual job fairs are becoming the trend for many recruiting organizations, as they search for ways to effectively connect many qualified candidates with gainful career opportunities. The technology used to power this event makes the job search process more productive and very convenient. Throughout the entire day, you can access the job fair from any Internet-accessible laptop or computer to submit your resume to participating companies or chat with recruiters. If you are a full-time professional, you can apply for job openings without taking time off from work.”
That about says it all. But let’s see how to put these online events to work for you as you look for your next job.
Preparation Is Everything
You can’t just wander into a virtual job fair and expect to find your next job. But you can improve your chances of success by taking these steps . . .
- Make a list of the hiring companies that will be there. This step can be either easy or difficult, depending on the organization that is running the fair. You could simply find a list of companies on the page where you sign up for the fair. Or maybe you can view a list of participants after you register for the event. Or you might have to call the organizer on the phone and ask for a list of participating companies. Once you know who will be taking part, visit the websites of those companies – especially their job listings, if available online. Chances are very good that the hiring company will be at the fair so that it can fill those same vacancies, right? Knowing what they are will give you a big advantage over other job-seekers who will be taking part.
- Prepare separate resumes that are targeted for those hiring companies. When you are at the virtual job fair, you will have the opportunity to upload your resume for hiring companies to review and store in their systems. So create different resumes for different hiring companies and jobs. If one company is hiring for sales representatives in the Midwest, for example, put “Seeking front-line sales position in the Midwest” in the “Objective” section at the top of your resume. If you have several different resumes ready to deploy as needed, you can “slam dunk” them into the systems of the hiring companies who will be taking part.
- What if you can't get a list of the companies that will attend? If you encounter that obstacle, create several different resumes for the kind of jobs you are hoping to apply for at the virtual job fair – in IT, Website design, sales, store design, whatever.
- Create a virtual “elevator speech” to use at the job fair and store it in your computer. You’re going to be chatting online with representatives from different companies during the job fair, so have your elevator speech (a brief description of your strengths and skills and what you are looking for) ready to copy and paste into those chat windows.
- Dress well and create an uncluttered area for video chatting. More and more virtual job fairs allow employers to engage in on-the-spot video chats with prospective employees. So remember, you might not be invisible! Dress professionally so that you can make a good impression. Also –and this is critical – create a clean and clutter-free area behind where you sit, so that nothing will distract or detract from you. You don’t want your bed in the background, or a pile of stuffed animals, or a psychedelic poster, or a tangle of electrical wires hanging from an outlet. Prepare an area that is clean and uncluttered.
- Consider cleaning up your online personality too. This is a secondary point, of course. But if you’re about to start interacting with prospective employers online, this would be a good time to review your self-presentation on your Facebook page, your online photo albums, and any other places where you have created profiles. Because if you seem interesting to employers, chances are that they will click over to those places and see what kind of person you are. This might be a good time to remove any party pictures.
How to Find Virtual Career Fairs
We’d love to provide a list of upcoming virtual job fairs in today’s post, but we’re sorry to say that we can’t. There are simply too many of them, and a lot of them are sponsored by different states or regional entities. Example: The Pure Michigan Talent Connect Virtual Job Fair, which will be held on June 26th.
But that’s not going to stop you, is it? With a little online searching and plunking, you will find virtual career fairs in no time if you search by your specialty (search for “IT job fairs”) or by region (search for “virtual job fairs in Ohio.”) Also: If you are attending a college, contact its career placement office and ask about upcoming virtual job fairs.
Ready, Aim . . . Hired!
If you follow the above steps, you’ll find those fairs, prepare the right way, and stand out from the pack of other job-seekers. That’s a formula for job-seeking success. Good luck to you as you take the new, virtual approach to landing your next job.
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