Utilize these career tips to navigate a virtual career fair effectively as a candidate.
Since you will likely be in a video chat with an employer, consider using a laptop or desktop that is resting on a desk or table. This ensures that your screen does not move while you are talking to the employer. If you decide to use your mobile device, find a way to prop it up so you don’t need to hold it. Even if you are blessed with nerves of steel and steady hands, a table or desk location will always provide better video, and you will feel more comfortable if you can speak freely without worrying about moving or dropping your device. Whatever device you choose to use, make sure the camera works, and that you are either plugged in or are fully charged, with several hours of battery life.
For the best experience at the fair, you will need a steady and reliable Wi-Fi or internet connection with download and upload speeds of at least 2 Mbps to support video chats. If you do not have access to a good connection in your residence hall, home or library, ask your career office to see if they have any suggestions. Wired internet connections are often more stable and reliable than wireless.
If you plan to video chat with an employer, remember to quickly scan your surroundings to make sure that things are orderly. You don’t want to be embarrassed by compromising items in the background, such as open bottles, controversial materials, or a pile of dirty laundry. Also consider finding a quiet place where you can concentrate and not be disturbed by roommates, family members, or pets. If you do not have access to such a place in your residence hall, home or library, schedule an interview room with Career Services. Lighting is also an important consideration. If there is a bright light behind you, your face will not show up well on camera. Avoid having bright sunny windows directly behind you. Try to have some light on you, so that the employer can see you when you are talking. Bright sunlight directly behind your screen is another hazard to avoid; you will appear much more professional if you are not constantly shielding your eyes.
Since a virtual career fair enables employers to see you on camera, professional attire will help you to make a good first impression. Some experts advise dressing as if you were attending an interview; others say that business casual, such as a button-down shirt or blouse is appropriate. Avoid t-shirts with logos, ripped clothes, or tops that are revealing. From a video perspective, it is also good to wear solid colors, avoiding clothes with lots of patterns, stripes or plaids. Your goal is to have the employer to focus on you as a person and not to be distracted by what you are wearing.
While you participate in the fair, focus your attention on connecting with the employers. To avoid being distracted, consider turning off notifications for social media, news, and other applications. If you are busy looking at the notifications for other applications, you might miss that opportunity to video chat with your employer of choice.
While you may have already uploaded your resume for employers to see, you should have a copy of your resume nearby. An employer may start your video chat by asking you something specific on your resume, and you will want to be able to talk about it. Video chats are short and timed, so you want to make the most of every minute you have with the employer.
Both group and one on one chats can be great ways to interact with an employer. Which one you choose depends upon your immediate goal. Group video chats are a great way to learn about a company, ask general questions, and hear the responses to other students’ inquiries. If you have found an employer of interest, a one-on-one video chat is the best way to identify if there are opportunities for, and to advance to, the next stage of the hiring process.
Similar to in-person career fairs, you can get more out of the experience if you have researched in advance the employers who will be in attendance, their profiles, and jobs that they are offering. Use that research to create a prioritized list of companies with whom you would like to speak, so you know exactly which employer lines to select when the virtual career fair opens.
Similar to an in-person fair, it’s best to arrive on time to be the first in line. Unlike a physical fair, you can stand in multiple lines at once, so arriving when the fair starts means you will get top spots for the employers on your prioritized list.
When you have finished a video chat with an employer, make sure to take notes. You may talk to many companies over the course of the fair, and you will want to remember specific information about each employer for follow up after the fair.
If you enjoyed your video chat with an employer, then check out the organization's openings. Show your enthusiasm by applying to the positions immediately after the fair.
After the fair is over, you can retrieve the names of company representatives, emails, and notes that you have taken. Use this information to send thank you notes to the representatives, expressing your interest and gratitude for taking the time to video chat with you. Making this extra effort can help the representatives remember you in a positive light.