How to Prepare for and Stand Out at a Virtual Career Fair

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In the virtual world, it is easy to slack on preparation for an event that you’ll likely be attending from the comfort of your home. While the perks of online career fairs are plentiful, don’t mistake convenient for informal or unprofessional; just like attending an in-person event, you still must prepare and do your homework.

Anyone who has ever applied for a job online also knows it can be hard to catch an employer’s attention without being physically face to face. While there are many forms of communication at virtual career fairs (e.g. chat, video chat, or text messaging) these tips can be applied to all forms. Here’s what you can do to stand out as a candidate before attending a virtual career fair (much of this advice can also be applied to virtual job interviews.)

  1. Be prepared and do your research
    Before the virtual career fair, review the list of employers and their job opportunities. Make a list of the employers that interest you and spend some time gathering background information on the company. Research the companies using different resources such as their company website, LinkedIn profile, online articles, and any other social media profiles.  This will help form questions that you can ask the employer, and allows you to highlight your related skills. Preparation also impresses the employer as it shows you have a genuine interest and took time to get to know them.

  2. Update your resume and social media profiles
    Remember that your resume should be simple, clean, and up to date.  Have various file formats of your resume ready to submit online to recruiters and hiring managers, as some employers may ask for specific formats of your resume – a PDF is safe to have on hand because it avoids any digital re-formatting issues. Also, remember information flows both ways – the employer is also at their computer and can easily look you up. So, take the time to update your social media profiles (such as LinkedIn) and make sure they closely match the information presented on your resume. If you have an online creative portfolio, may sure it reflects your current work and that it is hosted on a reliable server and with a working link.

  3. Practice your introduction
    Prepare a brief introduction about your education, skills, and relevant career goals. Think of it as a statement on your personal brand. Also be ready to talk about your career interests as well as academic and extracurricular experiences to showcase your skills and strengths.

  4. Use professional communication
    Being a virtual career fair, most often, much of your communication will be done through written interactions in chat or texting form. To make a great first impression, you’ll want to demonstrate strong written communication skills. Spelling and punctuation matter, and slang or shortened spelling of words won’t typically be appropriate.

  5. Keep organized
    Create a spreadsheet or make a list of all the companies you submitted your resume to, including the names of the company representatives you made connections with. When companies follow up with you, you can refer back to your list and remind yourself of how the conversation went and what you spoke about.

  6. Send thank-you notes
    At the end of the chat (or after the virtual career fair), thank the company representatives for their time. To take it a step further and make yourself memorable, reach out to these connections through another means. Whether it’s a LinkedIn message or a hand-written note, this is a good way to remind hiring managers why you’re a good candidate, and the skills or experience you bring to the table.

Remember, just because virtual career fairs are held virtually doesn’t make them less important or less of an opportunity to make connections. Follow these tips and you will navigate the waters of virtual career fairs with ease.

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