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Conquering Virtual Career Fairs (Part I)

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Virtual career fairs are increasing in popularity. Virtual recruiting events can be very appealing for both employers and jobseekers. For employers, connecting virtually reduces travel related costs, printing costs for displays, and eliminates the cost for branded giveaways. For jobseekers, travel related costs are also eliminated, professional dress may not be required, and resumes can be shared electronically.

Technologically driven fairs can take a variety of formats. Some vendors allow for creation of a virtual space that looks similar to a traditional fair and employers and jobseekers can operate avatars that represent themselves. Some virtual models rely on video chat so personal appearance and physical environment may still be a factor. Still other virtual career fair vendors are chat-based so job seekers need to make a great impression relying solely on the typewritten word. Virtual fairs may also have a combination of these features so recruiters and job seekers have some options in terms of how they interact. The key to virtual career fair success is to be prepared. Below are some tips for job seekers on how to prepare for a virtual fair experience. In a later post, I will share some tips on surviving and thriving during and after a virtual fair.

Before the fair ...

Research the employers attending and the positions available
- This is a must for traditional career fairs as well. Go to the career fair prepared to connect with employers. Create a target list of employers you want to connect with and familiarize yourself with the positions available and the schools themselves. For example, knowing a school's mission and even reading a school newsletter that may be available online can give some great insights into the institution and perhaps help provide some valuable conversation starters.
Update your resume, highlight relevant skills and accomplishments
- Showcase skills and qualities you have that connect to those listed in a job description. Also, use the knowledge gained from researching the organization to help you tailor your resume.
Test your technology, create a career fair day game plan
- Make sure you have access to technology that can run the programs needed to support the virtual career fair platform.
- Participate in any tutorials related to the virtual fair model used, so you know what to expect on the big day.
- Find a quiet space where you can be on the day of the career fair that will have a stable internet connection. If you are participating in a fair which has video chat capability, make sure you have a working webcam and microphone. Additionally, be sure the room you are in has nothing in the background that could distract an employer and appear unprofessional.

Next posting: some tips on surviving and thriving during and after a virtual fair

-Kristin Nisbet-White, Assistant Director
Career Center, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois

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