Winning at Virtual Career Fairs




#Careerfairs are still on my mind…and I am guessing since the time is approaching for your school’s fair that they may be on your mind as well. If not, I highly recommend you seek out your school’s career services office to learn more. Whether virtual or in person, these are great ways to learn about employers in your industry, network with recruiters, and be invited to interview for jobs or internships. Isn’t this why you are working so hard to earn a degree?


While some schools are resuming in person career fairs, many are still hosting them virtually. If you have not already ventured into a #virtualcareerfair you may have some questions about how to sign up, interact with employers, etc. Recently, I reached out to a good friend of mine, Kathy Livelsberger, Director of Employer Relations for Oakland University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science. She has helped thousands of college students prepare for interviews, write resumes, master networking skills, and develop moxie (as she likes to call it). In addition, she has helped these students master the art of navigating in person and virtual career fairs with confidence and ease. I am eager to share her tips and strategies with you.


It seems to be that the majority of virtual career fairs are hosted through Handshake. Handshake is a database of student profiles that allow for students to connect with employers and for employers to post job/internship opportunities, recruit students directly, and host virtual recruiting and networking events-aka Career Fairs. Because employers widely use it to recruit students for job and internship opportunities, it is important for you to create a profile in Handshake so that you do not miss out.


To help give you the best picture of navigating a virtual career fair, I thought it would be most helpful to list out the strategies for before, during, and after the fair.


BEFORE:

  • Create your #resume. Your resume is your story of accomplishments, experiences, skills, etc. Make sure that these are highlighted accurately and optimally, and formatted correctly.

  • Create your profile in Handshake and link it to your school. Make sure to upload your resume.

  •  Research posted career networking events. Take a few minutes to peruse the participating employers and the types of meetings they will be hosting. Learn if they will be group meetings, individual interviews, networking events, or all of the above.

  • Make a list of employers you want to meet. Note their event times and registration requirements, and plan accordingly. A spreadsheet works great to organize this information.

  • Create your “elevator pitch”. An elevator pitch is a 30-60 professional introduction about yourself.

  • Register for the fair. Most likely registration will take place in Handshake. Check with your career services office to verify.

  • Research which employers will be participating in the fair. Learn more about these companies on their web site, LinkedIn, and other media channels.

  • Set up your technology. Make sure you will be able to participate with a strong internet connection, earbuds, and in an environment with no visual or audible distractions. Test your video and audio functions on your device. Make sure you have the correct software/app for video and audio that will be used during the meeting. For example, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet could be used.




DURING

  • Make sure to participate in a place with a strong internet connection, no visual or audio distractions in the background, and use earbuds to minimize any outside noise. For example, if you will be participating in your room let the background be simple, clean, and free of objects. Make sure to have good lighting. The back of your door can sometimes be conducive since it may not have anything hanging on it.

  • Speak professionally and appropriately using correct grammar.

  • Adhere to scheduled event times. Sometimes events run over. Whether it is a group or individual event, understand that you can politely and professionally excuse yourself from the event to ensure on time arrival for your next event. If you arrive late to the event following and it is an individual event, politely apologize for your delay, let them know the previous event ran over and thank them for their patience.

  • Use the “chat” features during your sessions. Ask questions, participate in discussions, share thoughts through the “chat” features. It will help you stand out, be remembered, and be noticed by the employers.

  •  Smile and maintain eye contact with the speaker.

  •  Obtain contact information from each of the employers you visit or learn the best way to stay in touch.



AFTER

  • Utilize LinkedIn to connect and stay in touch with employers you met.

  • Follow through on any suggestions employers made to you such as applying to a specific opportunity.

  •  Write thank-you notes or emails to those that you met. I can’t emphasize enough the amount of power an expression of gratitude has on others.



Now that you have gained some insight and strategies to navigating a virtual career fair, I hope you are eager to get registered and meet what could be your future employer. If you are ready to up your game and get results, I invite you to connect with me. Together we will level up your #resume, compose an awesome #elevatorpitch, create an attention-grabbing LinkedIn and Handshake profile, and prepare you for an #interview. Best Wishes, Jodie



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