How to Find and Succeed at Virtual Job Fairs

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Attending a virtual job fair is a fantastic opportunity to connect with companies and hiring managers. But if you’ve never attended one, you’re likely curious about how virtual job fairs work and how to put your best foot forward.

We’ve gathered some strategies and tips to help you prepare for virtual job fairs and stand out to recruiters.

With a bit of preparation, you might discover that a virtual job fair is one of your favorite parts of your job search strategy.

What Is a Virtual Job Fair?

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To start, let’s talk about what is a job fair, or more specifically, what is a virtual job fair.

Similar to in-person job fairs, a virtual job fair is a recruiting event with multiple employers in attendance. You’ll generally see a list of companies attending so you can do some research before the event.

Employers will be represented by team members. Most often, that’s recruiters, but it might also be other employees, such as HR representatives or senior members of the team with job openings.

Company representatives will connect with job seekers to share the company culture, current openings, and employment benefits.

While there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a second interview or a job offer, it’s a fantastic networking opportunity and a chance to bring your resume to life and let your personality shine a bit.

How Do Virtual Job Fairs Work?

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After you’ve found a virtual job fair you’d like to attend, such as through virtual career fair platforms, events highlighted on company websites, or professional platforms like LinkedIn, you’ll need to register for the event. Depending on the career fair, group or one-on-one sessions may be available.

Once you register for the career fair, your information is sent to the recruiters attending. If they have free time on their calendar and you match the skill set and experience they seek, they can invite you for a one-on-one session.

You’ll be able to connect directly with a recruiter or senior employee at the company, and they’ll be able to answer your questions about internships, returnships, jobs, and flexibility.

On the other hand, virtual job fairs with group sessions can feel like group interviews, but they’re more like presentations. The recruiter will generally cover current job openings and company culture. You’ll be able to ask questions, so prepare a list of thoughtful questions and keep it with you during the job fair.

If you’re registering for an event on virtual career fair platforms such as LinkedIn or Handshake, ensure you update your LinkedIn profile beforehand. That’s often the most straightforward way for recruiters to review your background quickly.

8 Virtual Job Fair Tips

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If this is your first online job fair or you need a refresher, here are tips to help you shine during the event.

1. Ask Questions

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Use your company research to have some well-thought-out questions ready for each employer.

Ideally, you’ll have questions that are unique to each company. That way, you can stand out from other job seekers by highlighting that you’ve carefully considered the company.

Ask questions that help the recruiter understand your interest in finding a great job that fits your career goals, work-life balance needs, and personal values.

According to FlexJobs’ career experts, “Crafting questions ahead of time can help you better understand how to present yourself as a strong fit for the role you’re interested in while tactfully showcasing that you took the initiative to do your homework.”

2. Check Your Tech

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There’s nothing worse than signing in to a virtual job fair only to discover that your Wi-Fi isn’t working or you’re confused by the functionality of the platform hosting the event.

Test your tech before attending a virtual job fair to let your skills and experience shine, not your tech issues.

3. Get Dressed

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Even though the job fair is virtual, it’s still important to dress in professional attire appropriate for your industry.

“Be sure to set yourself up for success not only with your technology but also with your clothes. Dress for the virtual job fair just like you would if you were going for an in-person interview,” offer FlexJobs’ career experts.

“Looking professional and pulled together not only shows potential employers you are up to the task, but it also helps you get in the right frame of mind to talk with employers and exude confidence in the process.”

To be on the safe side, dress entirely — not just from the waist up! You never know when you might need to get up from your seat while speaking to an employer during a virtual career fair.

4. Look Into the Camera

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It’s tricky, but try to look at the webcam, rather than the person interviewing you.

When you focus on the screen during a video interview (rather than your potential employer), your eyes will look away from the person on the other end versus giving eye contact. Keep your eyes on the camera to show your interest and enthusiasm!

While you’re at it, set your other notifications to silent so you can focus on the conversation, rather than let your mind get sidetracked by the email notification on your desktop.

5. Opt for Your Home Office

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Although you can attend a virtual job fair from anywhere, ideally, you should log into an online job fair from your home office, where you can stage your video background so it looks professional.

While you might be tempted to participate from your cellphone, it sometimes has a different quality (and connection) than your home computer.

Plus, if you need to reference something quickly from your resume or cover letter, it can be more challenging if you’re already holding your phone in one hand.

6. Practice Your Elevator Pitch

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Get comfortable making a high-impact statement about your experience, skill set, and career goals.

Meeting with recruiters is the perfect opportunity to tell them precisely what you can bring to the team. You don’t want them logging off from your interview thinking, “Well, they were nice, but I’m not sure how they fit with our organization.”

7. Research the Companies

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Don’t let the fact that you don’t have to travel for a job fair lure you into thinking that you don’t have to prepare. You’ll still need to treat a virtual job fair just as you would an in-person one.

That means researching the companies that will be in attendance so you can impress potential employers with your industry and company knowledge.

FlexJobs’ career experts share this tip: “Asking what the company is hiring for isn’t the best first impression. Take time to familiarize yourself with the company’s open positions first.

“You can ask targeted questions about positions that align with your skills, experience, and interests.”

8. Take Notes for Follow-Up

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Even though you’re talking to each recruiter once during the day, that recruiter is talking to numerous job seekers. Ensure you’re a memorable candidate by following up — ideally, that same day.

Try to get contact information if you don’t already have it. Then, ensure that you jot down some notes after you connect with a recruiter before you move on to the next one.

Doing so ensures your follow-up email includes details that can quickly bring you, your conversation, and your qualifications to mind.

5 Benefits of Virtual Career Fairs

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Whether you already have a virtual career fair on your calendar or you’re simply exploring the idea of attending one, learn about the benefits of online job fairs and tips to prepare yourself for success.

1. Easier for Introverts

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If you shudder every time you consider searching, “job fairs near me,” there’s a good chance you’ll prefer the calmer atmosphere of a virtual job fair. After all, there’s nothing like big crowds to send your inner introvert into overdrive.

Virtual job fairs offer all of the advantages of a traditional job fair without dealing with large groups. You can process all of the information at your own pace and from the comfort of your home.

2. Expand Your Boundaries

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Let’s say you’d like to attend a job fair, but for whatever reason, you can’t find enough time to participate in the event in person. Fortunately, a virtual career fair lets you connect with multiple employers without leaving home.

Virtual job fairs are accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

So if you’re disabled, live in a rural area where job fairs aren’t commonly held, or you’re a military spouse in between locations, for example, you can attend a virtual job fair and reap all the benefits as if you were attending a traditional one.

3. Network Growth

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When you attend an in-person event, you’re generally limited to employers and attendees who are local to you. With an online job fair, the employers could be Fortune 100 companies or smaller employers on the other side of the world.

You’ll grow your network in a way that may not be attainable at a local, in-person job fair.

So, if you’re looking to work for a company overseas or one that lets you work from anywhere, your chances are even greater at a virtual event.

4. Enjoy a Quicker Hiring Process

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Attending a virtual job fair, you can quickly submit a virtual copy of your resume. If you’ve researched before the event and made a list of target companies, you can quickly move through the hiring process.

With an online copy of your resume and your application already in the company’s database, the recruiter can quickly set up the next round of interviews and connect you with potential hiring managers for the roles that you’re interested in.

5. Short Time Commitment

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Going to a traditional job fair takes some time. You commute to the location, spend the better part of your day waiting in line to talk to a prospective employer, and then travel back home again.

But with a virtual job fair, you can pop in and out as needed without extra commuting time.

“Unlike traditional job fairs, virtual job fairs make it easy to focus on the companies and the jobs available because you don’t have to worry about things like your travel time or getting stuck in a traffic jam,” the career experts share.

With these benefits in mind, it’s easy to see how a virtual job fair can be a key part of your winning job search strategy.

Connecting With Experts

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Virtual job fairs provide a unique opportunity to meet with companies and connect with industry experts without having to leave your home.

Use these tips to level up your job search with a few fantastic remote companies at the next online career fair. Share your brand and unique skills in a more personal way, making it easier to land a job faster.

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