How to Impress Recruiters at a Virtual Career Fair

virtual career fair
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virtual career fair

Due to the ongoing pandemic, virtual career fairs continue to grow in popularity. According to a survey by Yello, nearly 80% of recruiters plan to leverage virtual strategies in the spring of 2021. In addition, 31% reported that they will be exclusively virtual in their recruiting practices.

Attending a virtual career fair can be intimidating, but it’s a great opportunity to focus on what really matters — connecting and meeting with recruiters to discuss your qualifications to help you land an interview (and hopefully a job).

Wondering if these online events are worth it? Consider this. In May, SHRM shared that Mercy — a not-for-profit health system in St. Louis — reported more than 330 people attended their 15 virtual events held since February. The result: more than 50 interviews and 30 new hires!

To up your chances of standing out to recruiters, you need to do more than just sign up and log on. Follow these tips on how to successfully prepare and navigate a virtual career fair before, during, and after the event.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Before the virtual career fair

If you want to have a good experience at a virtual career fair, you’re going to have to tackle a little prep work. Here’s what to do:

  1. Sign up ahead of time

To start, don’t be afraid to sign up! Since virtual career fairs are a new concept, it may feel like you are entering uncharted waters. But these virtual events provide great opportunities for you to get your foot in the door and learn more about industries that interest you. Plus, signing up ahead of time gives you more time to prepare — which leads us to our next point.

  1. Research participating employers/organizations

Once you’re signed up, review the participating employers and highlight which ones you are interested in meeting with. Then, do a little research on each company and create a list of questions. Showing that you are prepared and have some knowledge of the company already will make you stand out from other candidates!

  1. Update your resume and practice your elevator pitch

Before you log on to a virtual career fair, check that your resume is updated. This includes your social media resumes as well. Recruiters attending virtual career fairs have the advantage of being able to search for your LinkedIn resume during the event — so make sure everything is ready to go beforehand.

Keep your resume handy during the virtual event, too. That way, you can quickly send it off to any potential recruiters who express interest.

Lastly, practice your elevator pitch. The most common question a recruiter will ask you is, “Can you tell me a bit about yourself?” Be prepared and practice how you will introduce yourself. Having a clear idea of what you want to say will make you feel more comfortable and confident when talking online.

  1. Don’t be afraid to reach out

If you see a company that really catches your attention before the virtual career fair, don’t be afraid to reach out prior to the event to coordinate a time to meet at their  “booth.”

Tip: Don’t communicate through the general contact form or email address listed online. Be sure to look up and identify the right contact to connect with at the virtual career fair. This will impress recruiters and prove your attention to detail!

Just don’t spam the employer beforehand. You don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons before the event starts by bombarding their inbox.

The benefit: Virtual career fairs allow you to reach more employers without leaving the comfort of your own home. You may have to do a little more prep work, but the access to a bigger network makes it more than worth it.

During the career fair

Time to sign on! Here’s how to confidently stand out and showcase your skills and qualifications:

  1. Dress to impress

Just like at an in-person career fair, first impressions count. Dress properly and professionally — these things matter even through a computer screen. 

  1. Focus on strong communication

Maximize your time during a virtual career fair by communicating clearly with recruiters. If you’ve done your prep work, you should already know exactly how you want to present yourself and what you want to find out from employers.

Many virtual career fairs will provide tools such as chatbots to help participants better connect with each other. Use them to elevate your virtual experience and to get the most out of your interactions with recruiters.

  1. Maintain eye contact and body language

According to a CareerBuilder survey, 68% of hiring managers say that failure to make eye contact is one of the biggest body language mistakes to make during an interview. Staring at a computer to interact with recruiters can seem unnatural, so here are some virtual tips to help you feel more comfortable:

  • Match the recruiter’s eye contact and body language. You don’t want to appear nervous or inauthentic by staring in an unnatural way.
  • When you’re speaking, look at the camera and not the person on the screen. This small adjustment will help eye contact feel more direct and natural for the recruiters.
  1. Put yourself out there

To make an impression and make connections, put yourself out there! Don’t hold back on asking questions. For example, if an employer really caught your attention, ask for the recruiter’s contact info. Take it one step further and set up a time to do a follow-up call. 

The benefit: Attending a virtual career event can be less nerve-wracking than an in-person one. For example, you won’t be overwhelmed by crowds of people to get the attention of a recruiter. Less stress = more opportunities to impress.

After the event

It’s time to move on with the rest of your day now, right? Not so fast — don’t forget about these two crucial steps:

  1. Follow up

It’s always a good rule of thumb to send a thank-you note to recruiters who really got your attention and interest. In the note, include specifics about why you liked meeting them and how you could benefit their company. Don’t forget to attach your resume!

  1. Reflect

Virtual career fairs aren’t going away any time soon. Ask yourself what you could do better or differently to stand out more at the next one you attend.

The benefit: Attending a virtual career fair can provide great insight into jobs and industries you may be interested in. Hopefully, learning from employers and companies in the industry will get you excited for your future career!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.