Career fairs are a great way to learn more about companies and discover your next employer. By bringing them online, employers are making it easier than ever for you to chat with their representatives, find opportunities, and uncover details about their cultures.
Ryan Healy, President and Co-Founder of Brazen Careerist, a platform often used to host online virtual events, explains some of the benefits of attending career fairs online, “Online info sessions and hiring events allow employers to reach top talent by granting them access to their organization. Changing the call of action from “apply” to, “lets chat”, opens the door for candidates to engage with existing employees and ask questions about culture and specific positions.” He points out that this type of engagement is appealing for any type of candidate – even those of you who aren’t actively seeking a new job – because it lets you interact with a company and learn about life inside.
Despite the convenience of finding your dream job without ever leaving your desk, there are still some things you need to accomplish as a job seeker. Not unlike a traditional career fair, you need to be prepared to put your best foot forward and make an impression on the recruiters. Online career fairs make it simple to register, boast an interactive and engaging user experience (that you might not even find in person!), and allow you to follow-up with ease. However, if you really want to take advantage of the experience to earn a job you care about, try incorporating these into your practice:
Before you attend your next online career fair, here are the top five things you should do:
Practice makes perfect, right? Do your research on the companies and their open positions. Determine who you’re interested in talking with, and what you bring to the table in your conversation. This is a great chance to make a strong first impression and be memorable, so make your interaction with recruiters worth their while and yours by having questions prepared and background research complete. To find a fulfilling career, you need to find a position that suits your skills at a company where you’re aligned with the culture; to best way to prepare for your next online career fair identify these ahead of time.
Kerry Noone, Employer Brand Program Manager at Amtrak, prepared attendants before Amtrak’s last online career fair by explaining, “We listed essential functions in the jobs we highlighted and I tried to make it clear that it was important for [participants] to get right to the point – what type of job are you applying for and what is your related experience. Additionally, for those who had railroad experience, I suggested they let the recruiter know up front what company and what position they held.”
2. Elevator Pitch
Like any sophisticated job seeker, you have this ready to go at the hint of a compelling opportunity. Online career fairs are definitely a great time to test them out! Your elevator pitch is your hook, your self-introduction that says who you are professionally and compels your listener to do the same. This allows you to uncover how you can help one another, and sparks conversation. Consider it like a personal branding statement- it opens the gates for someone to ask questions and share their own. You should come prepared with it (see #1) and share it readily!
Noone warns participants in Amtrak’s online career fairs that, “Each session is timed to 6-8 minutes. My advice to those waiting “in line” was to not waste precious time with niceties like, “how are you doing today?” and instead suggests getting right into your elevator pitch – why are you there and what makes you an interesting candidate with whom recruiters want to speak?
3. Dress the Part
You could totally do this in your pajamas, yes. However, when most people slip into their favorite sweatpants it signifies nap time or Netflix binge-watching, not networking with your potential employer. Get dressed to impress so that you’re not distracted. If you feel confident, you’ll be more focused on the task at hand. Even online, dressing the part gets you in the mindset to present yourself accurately and interestingly. People hear what they see, so your picture should be professional. Whether you’re sitting on the couch or in an office when you participate, you should dress as smart as you are. It will help you keep the emphasis on making meaningful connections.
Do you know how to operate the software? Have you tested to make sure your Internet connection is working? You want to take advantage of as much time as possible in the online career fair, so don’t waste it trying to refresh your browser or get cut off mid-conversation. Make sure you spend a little time beforehand familiarizing yourself with the program. No matter how easy it is to use, you don’t want to be caught off guard by any glitches. It never hurts to be prepared (See #1).
5. Update Your Information
When you interact with a recruiter or hiring manager and find yourself happily envisioning a day in the life at their company, you will want to be ready to share with them your updated resume, cover letter, or examples of your work. By giving yourself the time to revise and rework your application materials or work samples beforehand, you will save yourself the stress of scrambling to procure them on the day of the event. Plus, this will allow you the time to ensure your most recent jobs or training are reflected accurately and that you’ve perfected your format. Armed with these materials, you’ll be able to quickly supply them to representatives of interested employers when the time comes.
Above all else, don’t be afraid to dive into online career fairs. With the Internet enabling connections and expanding networks like never before, it’s a great time to engage in the space with your dream employers. You can connect and chat with ease, and position yourself for advancement in your career, making your professional satisfaction possible with just a few clicks of a button.
Want to attend an upcoming online career fair?
Amtrak, in collaboration with the platform Brazen, invites you to attend their upcoming event! An employer recognized for its hiring efforts with Veterans, achievements in diversity, and a member of Forbes magazine’s first-ever America’s Best Employers 2015, Amtrak is excited to welcome new applicants and candidates to its online career fairs.
In their last event, Noone explains that participants even had the opportunity to network among themselves during the very active event, “bonding over their desire to work for Amtrak, while some even offered their own advice.” If you’re excited by the idea of building your network, want to meet key decision-makers within Amtrak, or experience your first online career fair, register here for more information!