COVID-19 has unfortunately resulted in many people looking for jobs, and for various reasons – such as being laid off from a previous role or being a 2020 graduate who has had their post-graduate position delayed or cancelled.
Since most of the world is still practicing physical distancing, it may seem like a near impossible task to search for jobs solely online when you’re competing with hundreds of thousands of other people.
While job searching websites such as Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor etc., were one of the most popular ways to look for open positions before the pandemic, in-person events such as career fairs were (and still are) an extremely effective way to network and apply for multiple jobs at once, bringing out hundreds and even thousands of eager job seekers.
Thankfully, recruiters and businesses have adapted to this “new way of life” by offering virtual career fairs. Virtual career fairs aren’t an entirely new concept; a Globe and Mail article from 2011 highlighted the biggest Canadian virtual career fair hosted by Monster.ca, which had over 10,000 people sign up.
Many technology and knowledge-based businesses have offered online job fairs for a while – but as we’ve seen these last few months, businesses that were not typically “up-to-date” and using the latest and greatest online platforms are adapting to the current circumstances.
What Could a Virtual Career Fair Look Like?
Virtual job fairs take place online. Organizations with jobs to fill set up “booths” full of information about everything from job openings to advancement opportunities, compensation, and culture. The “booths” are often “staffed” by recruiters and hiring managers. Companies’ booths may provide a wealth of information on the companies or they may host links to their websites and a list of job openings.
Like a non-virtual career fair, you will likely register to enter, upload a resume, and often fill out a questionnaire about your interests and experience. The career fair may generate a list of employers that match your skills. You may use that list or browse the companies.
Employers and job seekers meet in a virtual environment, using chat rooms, webcasts, teleconferencing, webinars, and/or email to exchange information about job openings.
A virtual career fair could look very similar to a non-virtual job fair. Like real-world job fairs, they may be focused on a certain industry, profession, or geographic area. For example, if it is sponsored by a University, it may be geared toward recent graduates. Companies that participate in virtual job fairs usually have multiple openings and locations.
It is important to remember that just because you’re a part of a virtual career fair doesn’t mean that all the jobs available will be full-time remote positions. Sure, today there may be more people working from home than usual, but once businesses get back into their offices, the positions you’re applying for may require time in the office.
Tips for Job Seekers Attending a Virtual Career Fair
Most tips for a virtual career fair would be similar to an in-person event. Some extra preparation could help you stand out among the crowd though and make for a seamless experience given all the extra added tech elements.
- Research employers beforehand: This may seem obvious, but it is important. It will increase your confidence while speaking to that employer and help you generate questions you may have regarding the role or company itself. If you are interested in jobs in different industries, practice multiple introductions and ways to describe your past roles for a tailored approach.
- Clean up and dress professional: Many recruiters will want to speak via webcam, so take the time to tidy up your surroundings. Make sure to test your camera and note how much of the room will be visible in the video. As always, professional attire is recommended. While the virtual atmosphere may seem more casual, treat it as you would be meeting people in person and dress for success.
- Check your resume: Try to tailor your resume to each industry or employer if possible. Have each version saved in an easy-to-reach location on your computer so you can distribute them as needed. As always, make sure to check for spelling and grammar mistakes and check for accuracy with your previous jobs, whether it’s the position title, years you worked there, job duties, etc.
- Take notes: Whether it’s an online or in-person career fair, it may seem like information overload speaking to so many people in a short amount of time. Take notes on the companies you’re interested in and what the job entails. This will help you establish questions to ask and articulate how you could provide value to their team.
- Check your tech: It’s safe to say we’ve all experienced a tech glitch at least once in the midst of all these video calls, but there are still preventative steps to take. Before logging on, make sure your battery is fully charged or plugged in and that you have a good internet connection. If you already know the video conferencing platform the event will be using, take the time to look up some tips and tricks of how to best use the tool.
- Follow-up: Sending thank you notes to those you spoke to will impress the recruiter. They are also talking to hundreds of eager job seekers during these career fairs so simple, effective, and professional ways to bring more attention to your resume will give you a leg up.
Virtual Career Fairs to Attend
If you are currently job searching or are a business looking to hire, virtual career fairs are happening right now. Here are some upcoming events you may want to take part in:
- Power to Fly Virtual Job Fair for Women – Wednesday, June 17, 2020; 10:00am to 6:00pm EST
- #FirstFridayFair (#FFF) Career Fair: Business, Data, and Tech in Toronto – Friday, July 3, 2020; 11:00am to 3:00pm
- In-TAC: Canada’s Largest Virtual Job Expo – September 22, 2020 9:00am to September 23, 2020 9:00pm EST
If you were planning to attend an in-person career fair this year, keep in mind that it may be delayed or shifted to a virtual event.
Recruiting Resources to Find Top Talent for Your Workforce
Finding the right employees can be challenging and employers often find it overwhelming when trying to look for potential candidates. If you’re unable to attend an upcoming virtual career fair, there are still other opportunities for you to learn more about recruiting top talent. Developing a strategic hiring process ensures your business can attract and retain employees that will help you grow and succeed.
Download Mentor Works’ How to Find and Recruit Top Talent slide deck to discover recruiting methods and opportunities for your business.