Online career fairs have become a really popular way for job seekers to get the attention of hiring employers. It’s simple, free and can be done from your couch! It’s an opportunity to stand out from the hundreds of other applicants and really make an impression on an employer. But given the limited time you have one-on-one with each company (5-10 mins), how can you give yourself the best chance of building real career opportunities? Use these five steps to ensure you get the most out of the event:
Update your resume – Make sure both your resume and any social profiles (LinkedIn, Instagram, personal website etc.) are up-to-date. Given that on average there are 250 applications for every job and recruiters spend approx 6 seconds reading each resume, it’s crucial that you make your resume easy to scan. Clearly highlight the most relevant skills and achievements to get you noticed. Search online for tips on creating effective resumes and identifying your most relevant and valuable skills and work experience for the types of jobs you're searching for.
Learn about the companies – Research the companies that are attending and their current open positions. The most common complaint from job seekers at online career fairs is being pointed towards the company website by the recruiters. Recruiters are far less likely to do this if you can show you have done your homework. Login to the online career fair in advance and click on each company’s booth to see their information and any job postings. Go a step further and research what the company’s objectives are. What developments and changes have there been through the company? What growth and progress is forecast for the future? Demonstrating your understanding of the company in your conversations, and how you can add value to achieving their goals is a surefire way to get the recruiter’s attention.
Prepare for interview screening - Your goal with an online career fair is to talk one-on-one with recruiters and hiring managers – see this as a screening interview. Be professional. Introduce yourself, summarize your background and explain what positions/ job field you are interested in. Approach employers as professionally as you would in person. Because the event is text chat based, save yourself some time and type out a brief summary of your background, skills and goals. Then cut and paste during your chat to cut down on typing time and having to think on the spot. Even just preparing a few key points that you want to ensure you get into the conversation can help. Remember your time is limited with each company.
Pre-write some questions - Think carefully about what you want to ask, while also showing the recruiter you’ve done your research about the company and why your skill set and experience makes you a great fit! Researching the company and asking relevant questions will ensure you use your 10 mins with the recruiter wisely. Ask questions to understand who their ideal candidate would be and explain how your skills and experience match what they are looking for.
Some example questions:
- What skills and abilities are most valued in your company?
- What is the corporate culture like?
- Do you have any internship opportunities?
- What advice do you have for me as someone interested in this particular career field?
- What is the best way for me to follow up with you about open positions with your company?
Check the accommodation process on their company website - All employers should have information on their website of how applicants can request accommodation to access the application form or additional testing, if experiencing difficulty due to a disability. For example if the online application isn’t screen reader friendly for visually impaired candidates, or the hiring process includes a telephone test, inaccessible for deaf candidates. So look into what the application process is like for the position you are interested in and you can use this opportunity to raise any questions/ concerns that may arise when applying.
Just remember to be prepared, be positive and make an impression!