As the pandemic makes in-person job fairs a risky endeavor, the virtual job fair has grown into an even more significant way for job seekers to generate job prospects, and for employers to identify potential candidates.
What is a virtual job fair?
A job fair is a recruiting event for employers to meet with potential candidates, and for job seekers to meet with employers’ representatives to learn about current and future job opportunities, and get a sense of different organizations as a potential workplace. While job fairs vary in size and scope, they are a great opportunity to connect with multiple employers at one time.
A virtual job fair provides these same opportunities online rather than in person. Online – or virtual – job fairs have existed for a number of years, but during the pandemic, they have risen to a more important means for job seekers and employers to connect.
What can you expect to happen at a virtual job fair?
In most virtual job fairs, you can expect to interact with a variety of employers in some kind of chat feature, have the opportunity to ask them questions and present your resume, and learn about their mission, goals, current job openings, and how to apply. Depending on how many participate, you may have 1:1 time with an employer representative, or share a group conversation.
At the beginning, the virtual job fair staff will greet you and make sure you have necessary information, then they will likely assign you to different chat sessions with specific employers. You may complete a conversation with one employer, then request to meet with another. Typically, there is a staff contact to reach out to if you have questions or concerns.
Some fairs will also hold some kind of educational event, such as a workshop on a related topic.
Who participates in virtual job fairs?
Job fairs may target job seekers interested in a particular industry or include a variety of industries. Many are open to the general public, some target current college students and recent graduates, and others serve veterans and transitioning military service members or other niche groups such as entry level workers, older workers, etc.
How can you prepare for a virtual job fair?
Most of the steps to prepare for a virtual job fair are identical to those for an in-person event. While the pandemic has shifted so many aspects of the economy and workplaces, it’s important to remain professional, polite, and positive.
This is your opportunity to make an impression, so while it may make sense to acknowledge the challenges of the current times, keep your focus clearly on moving forward and embracing the opportunities now and ahead.
Follow these steps to gain the most from the experience:
- Most virtual job fairs require registration in advance. Some charge a fee, most do not charge participants.
- Update your resume if needed, and write up your “elevator speech” or professional introduction. Practice it to feel confident in how you describe yourself and what you are looking for.
- Research the participating employers, and explore which are likely to hire people with your skills and background.
- Develop a “plan of attack” for your time at the virtual job fair; choose your top priority 5-10 employers to meet with, and focus your time on connecting with them.
- Make a list of questions for employers. Ask about how they recruit and hire people with your skill set.
- Dress professionally down to your shoes. Although you are online, doing a thorough job dressing professionally will affect your mindset and how you present yourself, and prevents any unanticipated wardrobe mishaps.
- In conversations, be sure to get contact information to follow up. After your conversation, make note of details discussed and any contacts mentioned.
- After the job fair, send a thank-you e-mail to contacts you met with. Mention a detail to remind them who you are and any points you discussed. Thank them for their time and ask about next steps.
Where can you find a virtual job fair to attend?
A variety of companies organize virtual job fairs. You can do a search online for “Virtual job fairs” in your local area, with local employers.
Many colleges and universities are setting up virtual job fairs now; contact your college career center to find out their plans.
Jobfairsin.com coordinates job fairs in local areas around the country at virtual job fairs. Many target specific industry areas, and some are specifically for veterans.