Career fairs, a fall staple on college campuses across the U.S., are going virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since schools are changing the way they’re conducting their fairs this year, those who plan to attend them must also adapt to the new set up if they want to see success. Virtual career fairs are virtually unheard of for employers, colleges, and students alike, but there are several steps you can take to ensure you get the most out of them!
Research the companies beforehand
At on-campus career fairs, you have the freedom to bounce from table to table at your leisure. On the other hand, virtual career fairs are a bit limited in the sense that you have to schedule a specific time frame to meet with employers, so doing your research prior to the fair is crucial. Go beyond visiting their Handshake profile- find their company website and look to see if they have any social media pages to learn more about their culture and day-to-day updates.
Sign up for time slots as soon as possible
If your college is using a platform like Handshake, you will have the opportunity to register for group sessions as well as one-on-ones with a variety of employers. Group sessions provide you with a platform to learn more about company culture, the types of positions available, and the benefits of working for that particular company; one-on-ones will give you the chance to ask more targeted questions and really sell yourself as a future candidate. For this reason, it’s critical that you sign up for whichever sessions you’d like to attend as soon as you’re registered. If you find that your schedule conflicts with a company’s availability or you were too late to the game, reach out to them via email to set up a separate time to chat!
Prepare some talking points
Your individual sessions with employers will be a great opportunity to showcase your best qualities as a candidate and dive deeper into the company culture, potential for growth, and overall opportunities they have to offer you. It might be helpful to draft up an “elevator pitch” that highlights your studies, previous work experience, and what types of roles you see yourself in after graduation. Write down a few questions beyond basic company information as well to ensure you’re getting as much information as possible during these sessions.
Update your profile as much as possible
One upside to virtual career fairs is the ease of access for employers in terms of obtaining students’ resumes, contact information, and educational background. Take a few minutes to double check that your major, graduation date, desired employment, and other basic information is up-to-date. By doing this, you give potential employers more insight to how you might fit into their company in the future. Additionally, be prepared to forward along your resume and contact information after the session – see next paragraph!
Write down contact information and follow-up
If you’ve ever attended a career fair on campus, you probably remember heading back to your dorm room with a stack of flyers, brochures, business cards and free swag from all the tables you stopped by. With virtual fairs, it’s on you to take note of the most important information that you’ll need to remember from each employer, even if they state that they will follow up with you. In general, it’s always a best practice to send a follow-up email either the night of or the day after a career fair to remind recruiters of who you are, where they met you, and what job(s) they should keep you in mind for.
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