How to make the most of a virtual job fair
Technology offers new and inventive ways for employers to find qualified candidates. The latest innovation is a virtual (or online) job fair where job seekers have the opportunity to apply for job postings and speak directly with multiple employers from anywhere in the world.
What is a virtual job fair?
Virtual job fairs allow job seekers and employers to meet online and discuss employment opportunities. Just like in-person job fairs, these events are scheduled at a particular date and time. They utilize a range of technologies, including written chat or messaging, and may include video or teleconferencing tools.
Preparing for a virtual job fair.
Online job fairs require job seekers to register for the event in advance. Registration may require submission of a resume and a series of qualifying and information questions that will help employers decide on the suitability of the candidate. Once registered, job seekers will receive a username and password to log into the event. They may even have an opportunity to review the positions advertised by each company before the event, and decide which positions they would like to apply for.
Preparation for a virtual job fair isn’t that different from an in-person one. Prior to “meeting” with employers, job seekers can research companies and learn about their values and the work that they do.
Just as with in-person interviews, job seekers need to be ready to talk about themselves with the employer, to demonstrate their strengths and accomplishments. Here are some sample interview questions and answers to help you prepare.
Before the event begins:
- Complete the registration as required
- Find a quiet space where you can focus on the interviews
- Make sure your computer, microphone (if needed) and other equipment are working
- Research the companies you want to speak with, and review job descriptions for each position you want to apply for
- Prepare a short introduction (an “elevator pitch”) targeted at each company that you can use when you first connect to a representative
- Prepare 2-3 questions to ask each interviewer
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and accurately describes your skills and experience
- Check your social media accounts and make sure your online presence is up-to-date and professional
- Prepare a folder of information (paper or electronic) that you can refer to during the interviews; include your resume, answers to interview questions, questions you want to ask, and company research
What happens at the virtual job fair?
At the designated start time, log in with your username and password. The website will direct you to chat rooms or booths where you can talk to the employers of your choice. Depending on the sophistication of the platform’s software, some job fairs look like a live in-person fair complete with booths. Other simpler virtual fairs might just include a list of companies which you can click on to review and start a chat.
Tips to maximize the opportunity.
- Type slowly and have spellcheck on; review what you write before pressing send/enter
- Use formal language – don’t be too casual; stay away from typical text abbreviations (e.g. don’t use “u” instead of “you”)
- Keep your answers short; long blocks of text can be overwhelming to the reader. Use paragraphs to break up blocks of text
- Choose your words with care; have your resume ready as well as scripts that you can copy and paste from (e.g. your elevator pitch)
- Answer one question at a time and only include the relevant information asked for
- Avoid redundancy; do not repeat information
- Be polite and avoid trying to be funny; humour, such as sarcasm, is hard to communicate online
At the end of the interview…
Thank the interviewers, express your enthusiasm about the job, and ask about next steps in the process. Ask for contact information from your interviewer so you can send a thank you note and follow up if you don’t hear back.
After the job fair…
- Send a brief thank you email (same day)
- Write down some of the questions you were asked in order to review later and learn from
- If you don’t hear back from an employer, call or email them to check on your application status after the deadline set by the employer
Remember, everyone is learning how to use these new technologies and everyone is bound to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, apologize, correct yourself, and keep going. Don’t let the technology intimidate you. By using it, you are showing the employer that you are adaptable and able to learn new skills.
Now that you’re ready, put your new skills to use at JVS Toronto’s Virtual Employment Connections Fair happening tomorrow! Register online at jvstoronto.vfairs.com