Virtual Career Fairs: Virtually painless

So what’s the deal with all these virtual career fairs?  What are they like and how can you make a good impression in one?  If you’re anything like me, when I first heard the term virtual career fair, I imagined webcam interviews on a mass scale and was a bit freaked out.  However, once I realized what virtual career fairs are actually like, I realized how beneficial and easy it can be to participate in one.  Virtual career fairs are becoming increasingly popular, so don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from checking one out.  Here is some information about them and what you can do to succeed at one.

A virtual career fair is where job seekers and employers meet online through a private virtual meeting or online chat.  Often, companies can use these virtual career fairs as a prescreening to an interview.  Candidates can interact with employers by exchanging information in real-time chat windows.  Companies can set up virtual booths so candidates can find them, can create online marketing brochures, and can accept applications online.  Sometimes the fairs will be in 3D and you can create a 3D avatar to walk around to the different booths of companies.

Some tips for a virtual career fair:

There are different things candidates need to do to ensure they make a good impression.  Be aware that communicating through instant messaging can take away a lot of the benefit of verbal charisma.  So if you’re a naturally well-spoken person, you may need to focus extra hard on making sure your text demonstrates that and if you have trouble with your writing being blunt, plan for that and take time to re-read what you typed before hitting enter.

Just like in real life, make a list of the companies you want to talk to and do your research on them.  A cool thing about a virtual career fair, is that you can potentially have a window open on your screen with talking points or information about each company so you don’t have to try and memorize everything about every company.

Prepare answers to generic questions.  Think about what questions the companies could ask you and type up your answers in a Word document prior to the event.  Make sure to spelling and grammar check everything.  You may need to tailor the answers when replying to the specific companies, but having this prepared will give you a head start on your answers.

Don’t forget to upload your resume.  When you register it should ask you to do so.  Don’t pass this up because companies can refer to your resume before, during, and after the fair.

Be formal in your conversation; don’t use text talk.  Use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.  This is a professional event, not just any old online chat room.  Saying, “I wuld luv 2 wrk 4 u,” is NOT going to get you the job!

Request a follow-up interview.  During the fair, the companies may have a limited amount of time they can talk to you, so if you’re really interested in a company use the time you have to set up more time to follow-up!

Virtual career fairs are virtually painless.  (See what I did there?)  Remember not to freak out about signing up for one.  Treat it like a real life career fair where you can use Word to edit and spell check all of your grammar before sending, and where you can have cheat sheets up on the screen with each company as you talk to them.  You don’t even have to get out of bed or off your couch.  What do you have to lose?

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