by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC
If you feel that your job search has stalled or companies don’t seem to be hiring near your home, you may want to add virtual career fairs to your toolbox. Many companies are using the Internet to save on recruitment costs while broadening their ability to reach qualified candidates. Expanding your approach to the job search will diversify your network and increase your odds of finding the perfect position!
Finding Virtual Career Fairs
A simple Google search using the term “virtual career fairs” is a great place to start looking for opportunities. You can also find out about career fairs on company websites and social media sites. In addition, there are companies that specialize in hosting virtual events as well as large corporations and regional Chambers of Commerce that organize virtual career fairs. Knowing that career fairs can be stand-alone events or staged as part of larger conference events will help broaden your ability to find them. Professional organizations and annual conferences often host career fairs as part of these events and many are expanding beyond the physical venue, making the career fair component accessible even if you are unable to travel to the event.
“Attending” the Fair
Specialized equipment or software is typically not necessary for job seekers participating in virtual career fairs. You can participate anonymously by simply gathering information or you can choose to have direct contact with recruiters.
Each exhibitor with open positions will have an online booth with information about the company and a list of available positions. You can click on positions of interest to you for additional details, post your resume, and often interact directly with corporate representatives, almost as if you were physically attending a career fair. Most virtual career fairs also allow you to upload information in addition to your resume, such as work history, skills, or certifications.
A video or Skype interview is likely to be part of a virtual career fair, so you will want to be certain to prepare for that eventuality. More rehearsal of your key points may be necessary for the Skype interview or video upload since you will be “on camera,” as compared to phone interviews where you can more easily read any notes you may have prepared.
Online chats with company representatives are often available even if the video option is not. Similar to customer service chats at online shopping sites, some candidates may feel more comfortable chatting via text, e-mail, or instant message rather than using video. Representatives can view your resume immediately and reach out to you with questions. But remember to keep your communications professional, regardless of the format. You are forming important networking contacts even if you don’t receive an interview offer.
Recent surveys indicate that over 80% of hiring managers want applicants to follow up within two weeks after submitting their resume or job application. Your follow up communicates your interest in the position as well as your positive work habits. Many job seekers make the basic mistake of posting a resume at an online site and never following up. The advantage of the virtual career fair is that you have a specific contact with whom you can follow up. Increase your chances of being remembered positively and called for an interview by conducting appropriate follow up.
Take advantage of every tool available to improve your job search and increase your chances of landing an interview. At the very least you can expand your network, which is still the most effective way of landing a new job. Be productive by attending a virtual career fair from home to score that all-important interview!