In our increasingly digital world, you’ll find yourself relying on technology for more and more of your job hunting. From posting on job websites to staying in touch with potential employers via email, your ability to get a job relies on technology more than any time in history. This can provide more job hunting options than ever, but also raises issues that are new to the world of job hunting.
Case in point, virtual career fairs. You’ve probably heard of career fairs already, where numerous businesses send representatives to meet with potential employees. It provides the chance for such would-be employees to meet with actual people from the business, to make some in-person contacts, and (hopefully) get their resumes to actual people. Virtual career fairs provide an interesting twist on the career fair concept. You are still talking with representatives from various companies and have a chance to talk with them and get them your data, but you’re doing it online, using a chat room (and possibly video chat) technology.
I went to one myself last week, and found it quite helpful to my job hunting process. There are some advantages to virtual fairs. It’s easier to log into a website and fire up a webcam than to travel to a real-life career fair. Since it’s easier for the companies as well, such virtual career fairs can have far more participants. sometimes from a far larger range. With ready access to your computer, it’s also easier for you to do backup research than if you are in the midst of a fair.
It’s far from a perfect method, though. There are some considerations you need to take into account if you are planning to attend (so to speak) a virtual career fair, which brings us to these
7 Ways to Succeed in a Virtual Career Fair
1. Find a Fair – Before you can attend a career fair, you need to have a fair to attend. There are various ways to find a fair: you could look at upcoming fairs hosted by career fair sites (Careereco being the host of the one I attended, for example) You could check out some organizations in your field to see if they know of anything. Or you can take advantage of all that available technology and just do a search for ‘virtual career fair’ and any key words that apply to you and your job search.
2. Do Your Research – When you have a fair or two scheduled, it’s time to research: you need to know who is going to be there, what sort of positions they are offering, and what data they need from you. Most virtual career fairs are forthcoming with the needed data, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting the basic data. To be truly prepared, though, you should make sure that you look into the companies that are attending and be sure that you understand their backgrounds, needs and current job openings; doing so will help you be prepared for chatting with the job representatives.
3. Make Sure You’re Properly Registered – Most virtual fairs require you to submit your resume ahead of time; it’ll help the businesses to learn who is attending and prepare themselves for the people who are going to be there. Ensuring that all your data is properly posted will also guarantee that you have no problems logging in when the career fair starts.
4. Prepare For Video Interviews – Here’s probably the biggest thing to consider when going virtual: you’re likely to have to engage in webcam interviews with the employers. You might not end up doing any video interviews (I didn’t last week, for example), but it’s important to be ready to rock a video interview. In order to do so, there are several areas where you need to prepare:
- Technology: Make sure that your connection is solid, that your webcam works, and that your computer is in good shape; you want to make sure that you don’t need to deal with technical complications mid-interview. (If you don’t have a webcam, you might still be able to attend; just double-check that you can chat without using video and be clear with potential employers that you can can’t do a video interview. Hopefully, most will understand.)
- Location: If you are video chatting, you need to be sure that you, and your work area, look appropriate. Be sure that everything behind you is clean and tidy (and preferably business oriented), and dress appropriately, ideally in business clothes.
- Speaking: It’s important that you are able to talk to the representatives online. Be ready to answer likely questions and have some good questions of your own to ask. Also, if you have trouble talking to other people, it’s good to practice your speaking as best you are able.
5. Treat It Like a Real Career Fair – Make sure that you behave like you would during a regular career fair or interview. Address the representatives politely, ask good questions, and be sure to find out about the jobs you are most interested in getting. This may be the first step towards getting a good job, and should be treated as such.
6. Take Notes – If it’s a good career fair, you’re going to get plenty of information. Currently available jobs, company background, contact information; you’ll get of lot of new data. It’s important that you take notes of everything to ensure that nothing slips your attention. Luckily, it’s easy to do this when you’re on the computer; copy and paste any text and just make sure to keep track of anything that’s been said. (It’ll help if you are being attentive in general.) Take particular note of all the contact details; you need to be sure that you:
7. Follow Up – You need to follow up with all your contacts following the job fair, just as when you finish a job interview. You won’t accomplish much if you just drop in to the job fair and don’t ever respond to any of the companies that spoke with you. Be particularly sure to write back to anyone whose contact data you manage to get; it’ll not only help to show that you are serious about working at the company, but also give you someone who can (possibly) help you along in the job filling process. If the career fair is the first step to getting a job, then following up with your contacts is the inevitable second step.