How to make the most of a Virtual Career Fair
Mastering any virtual career fair can be as easy as following the five P's: Participate, Prepared, Presentable, Punctual and Persistent. Following these steps can help you elevate your experience in any virtual career fair by helping maximize your engagement and keep your focus where it needs to be, from the first session to the last.
Virtual fairs are no different from in-person ones in the sense that you want to separate yourself from your peers to gain the notice of recruiters. Turn on your camera. Itís a simple step but it can make a world of difference when engaging with recruiters or anyone else for that matter.
Moreover, attending a session isnít the same as participating in one. If the session is interactive, then interact. Be part of the conversation, donít just sit there and watch. If the setting is more formal like a presentation, or you are limited in your means of communication, you should still be able to ask questions, usually in the chat or however the event is set up. Start by thanking the presenter for their time and presentation then move into your question. Small gestures like that are noticed.
Itís great that you are participating, but being heard is only part of the battle. From experience, we can tell you that the vast majority of questions asked during sessions are related to what positions the employers are looking to hire for, and what qualifications they are looking for from candidates. While we understand the urge to want to ask such questions, recruiters have heard these many times over. You will get much more engagement by properly researching the company and their offerings ahead of time, and asking questions that will engage the recruiter more and start a conversation with them. Moreover, asking questions which you could have answered yourself by simply doing a little research ahead of time, could potentially reflect negatively on you as a candidate, so try to avoid those.
Being prepared is especially important for sessions where there are less candidates and more of the focus is on you, the primary example being a One.on.One. Most recruiters won't make crosslinks between your profile and what they have on offer at their company. If they ask you what roles you are interested in, being able to answer them clearly, especially with reference to their offerings, can make a great impression in your favor. Conversely, telling them you don't know, or anything will work for you can be seen as a lack of direction or motivation on your side.
On another note, being prepared also means making sure that all your technology is working, like your microphone and camera, and that you are familiar with the platform that is being used.
Be presentable. We all know that you are most likely participating in a virtual fair from the comfort of your own space, but that is no excuse to show up in your pajamas. There usually isnít a need to show up in full formal attire, but wearing something appropriate and looking presentable for employers, who have taken the time out of their day to come speak to you, can go a long way.
Another good tip, if possible, is to choose your environment ahead of time. Donít have a bright light source, such as a window or lamp, in the background as it will make you look dark and washed out, even with a virtual background in place. Moreover, if you are using a laptop, like most of us, prop it up on a box or some books to get the webcam at eye level. It looks much more professional than it pointing up at you. Last but not least, if at all possible find a quiet environment free of distractions so you can give the event your full attention.
Being late happens to the best of us, but should be avoided if at all possible. As previously mentioned, being familiar with the platform, and ensuring that all your technology is working ahead of time will reduce chances of last minute issues that could prevent you from joining a session.
Moreover, only sign-up to sessions which you know you can attend. It can be very tempting to sign-up to multiple sessions that are overlapping, either because they are of interest to you or because you want to reserve your spot in line. We would strongly advise against this as, unlike in-person events, with virtual events there is a lot of data which can be collected and analyzed later on, attendance being one of them. Signing up for a session and not showing up can have a more negative impact than not signing up for one at all. So if you know you arenít going to attend a session, donít sign-up to it, and if you are really torn between a few being held at the same time, try and make that decision as early as possible.
No matter how much you prepare for a career fair, staying attentive and engaged for the twentieth session at the end of a long day can be challenging for anyone. Sometimes the opportunity you are looking most forward to is at the end of the day and you want to be just as attentive, if not more so, as in all previous sessions. Setting yourself goals or listing what you want to get out of each session, or even the career fair as a whole, can give you a clearer view of what to focus on, and also give you an end goal. This can help you engage more naturally over longer periods of time, and reduce the strain you feel from the event. The more you know about what you would like to get out of a session, the more you will be naturally on the lookout for this information, and the more naturally questions will come to you to help better engage with the recruiter or presenter.
Following these steps should help you make the most of a virtual career fair, and increase your chances of being noticed by the right people. We hope this has been helpful and wish you luck in your future virtual endeavours.