How to Win at Virtual Job Fairs and Get More Offers
It is clear to see that attending virtual events from home is here to stay.
A virtual job fair is the same as your average careers fair. The only difference is that it happens remotely. Virtual job fairs are time-effective, easy to promote, remove any need for travel, and allow all records of conversation and valuable information to be saved for later reference.
That being said, a lot of people are not taking full advantage of this resource. Or, more specifically, they are not sure how to. In this article, we will be looking at the best ways you can stand out at virtual job fairs to ensure that employers make you an offer for your dream role.
DON’T ALLOW YOUR TECHNOLOGY TO LET YOU DOWN
One of the most annoying aspects of working from home is having technical issues. This can be anything from devices and software to internet troubles. Of course, sometimes these things are not your fault. But, you should do everything in your power to mitigate these issues.
The best way to do this is by testing everything before the event. Here’s a checklist that you can follow:
- Device – whether that’s a phone or computer, make sure they are updated and fully charged.
- Hardware – This includes your webcam and microphone. If either is faulty, you can purchase external ones.
- Software – Is there any specific software the careers fair requires you to download? And if there is, do you know how to use it? And if you don’t, make sure you contact the fair organizer early.
It’s likely that virtual careers fair recruiters will be offering remote positions. So, if your technology lets you down during the fair, this could be a red flag in your application.
This means that if you want to increase job opportunities for yourself, you should invest in some long-lasting, high-quality equipment. For example, noise-canceling headphones that keep away distractions, or a large monitor. Research shows that the best monitor size is between 24 and 30 inches.
KNOW WHO YOU’RE MEETING WITH
Carrying out sufficient research is one of the most important things you can do to nail a virtual career fair. There are two main reasons you should put research at the top of your priority list:
- It shows the employers and recruiters that you are keen and interested in the role and their company.
- It will help you to decide whether or not this company is right for you, which can save you a lot of time and prevent you from making the wrong choices.
Your first step should be finding out who is attending, such as agencies or company representatives. The biggest mistake candidates make is only researching the role via the job description. Every company is different, even if they are offering the same position title. The best candidates research both the role and agency.
Information like whether they have won awards or had any success can be useful to know if they ask questions like “why us?”. If they’re a software development company, did they, for example, win an award for creating the best screen sharing app software of 2020 or the best employee management software? You mustn’t just state facts. Reference their achievements by mentioning why they are relevant to you.
The main thing you are trying to discover is what the company culture is. It’s no secret that employers want to work with people they like and think their other employees would like. Almost 80% of executives say that whether or not someone is a cultural fit is among the top five attributes they look for.
Where should you research?
To find the information mentioned above, a great place to start is the company’s website. Look at what they highlight and their mission statements. These are the things they value the most.
- Social media is also a great source to see how they engage with their customers.
- Job boards can let you know how they treat their employees, what benefits they get if there have been any negative incidents and whether the employees received fair compensation.
SPEND TIME ON YOUR CV AND PROFILE
Now that you have researched externally, it is just as vital to research internally. This means looking at your own skills and experiences, relating them to the role, and updating your resume accordingly.
Often, virtual careers fairs have a portal that asks you to complete a profile. This isn’t some sort of form that you fill out so that the careers fair organizer takes your email and sends you spam. It is actually very important.
This form of application is often made visible to the recruiters, so to give yourself the best chance, treat it as if you were creating another CV. Make sure that you fill out all the details using as many relevant keywords as possible. This is because employers at careers fairs use these profiles to filter out the candidates they do or don’t want to reach out to.
Here are a few tips you can use to complete your profile:
- Make sure that the details you input are up to date. This means there shouldn’t be any gaps in your CV/profile.
- Make sure that you have completed every section. Don’t just assume that you have covered an answer to the question in another section. Read the question clearly. “Why did you apply for this role?” and “Why did you apply for this role at this company?” are two very different questions. For example, the first one asks why you are applying for ecommerce jobs, and the second asks why you are applying to a specific company.
- Make sure that you upload a picture. It adds a friendly face to your profile and humanizes you as a candidate. Only upload an image of yourself in a suit or formal wear if the industry you are applying to requires it.
BE PREPARED TO SELL YOURSELF
The elevator pitch is often overcomplicated. There are no secret phrases recruiters are looking for that will make them hand over the role to you instantaneously. The key to a good pitch is keeping it brief and mentioning your most impressive and relevant achievements—For example, your degree, your last role, an internship, or placement year. Don’t talk about being head of the chess club.
The good thing about virtual job fairs is that, in most cases, you are communicating in a written format. So, you can prepare your pitch earlier on and copy and paste when necessary. But, in some scenarios, you may be asked to talk a bit about yourself, so make sure you have it memorized and practiced.
GET READY TO ASK SOME QUESTIONS
One of your primary objectives from attending a virtual job fair, aside from acquiring a role, is to learn about the recruitment process and your dream companies. There isn’t a better time than at a job fair to ask some well-thought-out questions that will be informative to you and show the recruiter that you are keen to work with them.
But, similar to this article’s theme so far, they shouldn’t be off the cuff or obvious questions. Prepare!
For example, if you’re applying to a contact center customer service role, you shouldn’t be asking questions like “how do VoIP phones work?” and “how do you use automatic call distribution software?” if this knowledge is required in the job description.
Additionally, you should be staying away from topics related to salary, benefits, and vacation time. Here are a couple of examples of questions you can ask:
- Is the role you are recruiting for a new position, and what is the structure of the team?
- Do you provide any opportunities for training and skill improvement?
A critical mistake some candidates make is forgetting or feeling too embarrassed to ask about the next stages in the recruitment process. You need to ensure that you have a point of contact that you can follow up with. Acquiring their name will also be very helpful for addressing emails and finding them on LinkedIn.
But, it’s also wise to check the platform layout before you ask. Often, recruiters will have their contacts and LinkedIn on their profiles.
MASTER VIRTUAL COMMUNICATION
Okay, so now you’re at the stage where you’ve carried out enough preparation. The next step is making sure that you make the most out of the event while you’re there. The crucial thing you need to have nailed down is communication practices.
As mentioned above, virtual job fairs often rely on written communication. This means that you need to be a proficient note taker and typer. One of the most significant advantages of virtual job fairs is that no one needs to hear you if you don’t want them to. So, during a seminar, workshop, or Q&A, it can be useful to mute your mic and dictate your notes. Research shows that dictating is three times as efficient as typing.
When you’re communicating directly with recruiters via text or chat, you must use formal business communication but ensure that it’s also engaging for the employer. Don’t forget to double-check everything you send for grammatical errors and tone of voice.
Here are examples of the right and wrong way to communicate:
- Correct way – Thank you very much for your advice. In your opinion, what is the best way for me to acquire cloud native platform experience?
- Wrong way – Thanks. Where can I get experience for that?
It is also not uncommon for there to be face-to-face verbal communication. This is an excellent opportunity to present yourself as a confident candidate by maintaining eye contact with the camera and showing open and engaged body language.
SOME ADDITIONAL ETIQUETTES AND TIPS
Attire and background
As mentioned above, there is often a chance for face-to-face communication. The worst thing would be having to decline an interested recruiter’s offer for a private conversation because you were not prepared to be seen.
Whatever you would wear to a real-life job fair is precisely what you should wear to a virtual one. Not only that, you have the additional duty to ensure that your background is clean, neutral-colored, and well-lit.
Get ready for the event
It’s essential to get yourself in a positive headspace before the event. Whether it’s a job fair with small businesses that develop software that allows you to fax without fax machine access or a huge virtual convention that includes the likes of Apple and Google, you should treat them the same. Here are a few tips:
- Give it your undivided attention. There’s no point in attending if you plan to multitask.
- Keep a hard copy of your CV handy, or keep a window open on your computer. But, ensure that you place the window near the camera so that you still maintain eye contact.
- Register early and arrive on time. It shows employers that you can meet deadlines.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO AFTER THE FAIR?
If you’ve carried out the steps above, it’s likely that you’ve come away with some valuable information about the recruitment process, or if you’re really fortunate, some specific advice about your resume. The first thing you should do is to summarize your notes and update your CV.
The next thing you should have gained from the virtual job fair is some recruiter contacts. The day after the fair is when you should take the opportunity to follow up with them. Your follow up should include this information:
- A thank you section, where you talk about what you enjoyed and your interest in the role and the company.
- A quick summary about why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.
- Your attached resume, samples of work, and your website if they don’t already have it.
TO SUM UP
In the current climate, virtual job fairs are one of the best opportunities for you to meet employers, learn more about the recruitment process, and hopefully get an offer. So, you must take full advantage and brush up on virtual job fair best practices. Let’s quickly recap the main points:
- Stay on top of your technology. This includes devices, hardware, and software.
- You need to become a stalker. Find out everything you can about the event, platform, and organizations attending.
- If you don’t know why you’d be right for the role, neither will the recruiters. Present this information clearly in your CV and profile.
- Write and learn an elevator pitch.
- Be interested. Preparing and asking questions could provide you with invaluable insights.
- Check your grammar, make eye contact, and tidy your workspace.
- Make sure you’re dressed appropriately and that you’re in the right frame of mind.
- Follow up and reiterate your enthusiasm.
Elea Andrea Almazora– RingCentral US
Elea is the SEO Content Optimization manager for RingCentral, the leader in global enterprise communication and collaboration solutions on the cloud. She has more than a decade’s worth of experience in on-page optimization, editorial production, and digital publishing. She spends her free time learning new things.
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