Navigating the Virtual Career Fair

October 20, 2014 Diane Cobbold

The traditional Career Fair has existed for many years. Job seekers come in droves to a conference centre or hotel with the hopes of directly talking to a company representative about their skills and how they may be a good ‘fit’ for their organization.  The good news is many job fairs are industry specific, which can further refine both the onsite organizations and job seekers that attend.

The effectiveness of the traditional job fair can be very subjective.  It’s a great way to practice your networking skills, try out your ‘business introduction,’ and see ‘who’ is hiring.  Remember, to set realistic expectations as many career fairs have a large percentage of placement agencies/recruiters participating who may be taking resumes to grow their database vs having active open opportunities.

Not surprisingly, the evolution of job fairs has leveraged technology and now “Virtual Career Fairs” are slowly becoming more popular.  Where they initially focused on the IT sector, their scope has widened to include all industries.

So, what is a “Virtual Career Fair”?  An event organizer assembles companies and agencies to come together on a specific date(s)/time. They pay a fee to attend, promote their organization, advertise their opportunities, and connect with job seekers.  Many online job sites like monster.ca and working.com have had successful virtual career fairs attracting thousands of participants.  As a participant, its standard to pre-register for the event and to complete a brief career profile and/or a skills/competency assessment to narrow down your options compared to the participating organizations.

Advantages and strategies for the job seeker:

  • representatives and job seekers can be anywhere in the world to participate,
  • attendees can browse the catalogue of participating organizations and conduct prior research,
  • pre-registration may allow you to upload your resume prior to the event, or be ready to do so during the event and take advantage of any filters to tag your resume to specific industries, or organizations
  • during the virtual career fair, show active participation; take advantage of any opportunity to participate, share ideas, and post advice and questions
  • attend and participate in live webcasts from your target organizations,
  • network and connect with other attendees sharing leads and advice,
  • investigate if the virtual career fair has an online chat function to connect with HR professionals and sponsoring companies,
  • if your resume has attracted attention, be prepared for an immediate online request for a mini-interview either via phone or Skype.

While the approach seems more casual, remember that any opportunity to network and interact with potential contacts and organizations needs to be professional, so take it seriously.

  • set up a Skype account prior to the event; practice your business introduction and be prepared for spontaneous mini-interviews,
  • ensure your online professional profiles like LinkedIn are updated
  • increase your confidence and success, by preparing questions and conducting an online practice interview with a friend

I expect we will see more virtual career fairs in the years to come which could also change how we conduct the traditional face-to-face interview.  Be prepared to leverage technology in all your job search efforts!

About the Author

Diane Cobbold

Diane Cobbold is a Principal in Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge’s Career Solutions Practice. Diane has over 20 years of experience working with HR teams to develop career solutions that support departing and retained employees to realize their career goals through traditional programs and virtual resources.

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