During the pandemic, we have seen a massive shift onto online platforms for many things. Career fairs are no exception, with almost 80% of recruiters planning to leverage virtual strategies in the spring of 2021.
These events are a valuable part of your job search toolkit as they allow you to connect and network with potential employers and training providers in your industry. In turn, this helps hiring managers to find skilled individuals like you to fill important vacancies. Don’t take my word for it, according to SHRM, 330 people attended 15 virtual career fairs that they had organised, resulting in more than 50 interviews and 30 hires. Here are some key steps to help you get the most from a career fair:
- Firstly, prepare beforehand. Preparation is key to making more connections and linking with potential employers. Sign up ahead of time. Research the organisations and employers who are attending the event and decide which ones you’ll target and what help you need form each one; e.g. CV feedback, training, details of vacancies, contacts within HR or finding out about new and upcoming contracts, their pain points (what you can do for them) or the company culture.
- Reach out to exhibiters. They want to help you so visit their booth, have a chat, ask questions, explain what you have to offer and proactively make those vital new connections to build your network. Update your CV and LinkedIn profile and practice how you might go about answering questions they could ask. This can give you a much-needed confidence boost and is great preparation for interviews.
- Make a good first impression. If you are taking part in a Zoom call, live event or similar, be aware of your body language. A survey by CareerBuilder found that 68% of hiring managers said that failing to make eye-contact was the biggest body language mistake one could make. Dress for success. It may be an online fair, but no-one will expect you to turn up in your PJs or T-shirt. It’s a professional event for professional people. First impressions count!
- Network & Build New Connections. The objective of the event is to meet new people in your industry, so do not be afraid to put yourself out there. Explain your situation and ask their advice. Prepare questions beforehand to show a genuine interest and gain valuable insight into what exhibitors may be able to offer you in terms of job opportunities, inside info on the company, or training courses to build your skill set. This is a sure way to make a good impression. Communicate clearly with recruiters and tell them about your ideal role and what you can bring to the party.
- Follow Up. What you do during the career fair is important, but there are also some things that you can do afterwards to follow up. Connect with the people you’ve met such as recruiters, company reps, CV writers or training providers via LinkedIn. Drop them an email to thank them for meeting you or helping you at the fair. This may help them remember you. Contact the hiring managers they may have suggested, explaining how you were impressed with the Company at the fair and the potential opportunities you’d discussed. This is a critical piece of work which can make a huge difference to your job search.
- Finally, take some time to reflect on the career fair. List what you did right, what you could do to improve, what useful advice or information you have come back with, and what actions you need to take moving forward.
Good luck at your virtual career fair and enjoy the experience!
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