How to prepare for a digital or physical job fair?
Spring season equals (virtual) job fair season. But what makes such an online fair so interesting? What are the differences between a traditional job fair and a virtual one? How can you get the most out of it? Let’s get down to business and find out where to pay attention to!
In comparison with physical job fairs - where you have to be on-site in order to gather information - virtual job fairs are awesome time-savers. You can join within seconds and if you’ve gained enough information, you can exit easily. Virtual career events are a must during times like these, but they could play a big role in the future too. In that way, geographical distances are no longer an obstacle. This means that you don't have an excuse to lose out on valuable networking opportunities. Job fairs in a virtual format also include easy-to-navigate virtual lobbies, webinar-friendly auditoriums, and custom-designed booths that facilitate the connection between attendees and participating employers.
The main aim of attending a job fair is to get to know certain companies and gaining unique first-hand insights into how they operate. Traditional real-life job fairs have the advantage that you can meet the representatives face-to-face and that you have the chance to charm potential employers with your confidence and personality. It’s also easier to meet other job seekers and boost your network when you’re not talking through a screen.
However, the need to reorganize physical job fairs into an online alternative has led to innovations in digital platforms. The door of technology integration at job fairs has been opened: much more and much easier technologies are being implemented. This was also the case at Usights’ most recent job fair in March. Usights is a marketing and sales-oriented community and e-learning platform that organizes lots of different events; such as conferences, miniworkshops, afterwork meetings, podcasts, and of course: job fairs.
They implemented myCareerCompanion in their job fair, by giving the first 150 people who registered a free code to create an account. We spoke with Dylan from Usights about the first edition of their online job fair. “I got to know the platform when I was a student at KULeuven. I even co-organized workshops with Eva, which was always a pleasure! I really liked the refreshing content of those workshops, so it was an easy decision to collaborate with myCareerCompanion when searching for a real added value to our job fair.”
Preparation is key
The key takeaway from the collaboration between Usights and myCareerCompanion is to be fully prepared! Don’t try to wing a virtual job fair and ‘walk into it’ without having done anything to get ready. Just like a physical job fair, you need to do some research. Dylan told us that “It would be a pity if everyone attended a job fair without knowing what they want. Starting to apply for a job is an important step, so it is good to know which companies and which type of vacancies suit you best.” There are a few important things you need to do before taking part in a job fair. The first tips we can give you are:
Update your resume and social media profiles: Since many recruiters will screen you, it’s important to check if everything is presentable and your CV is up-to-date.
Get to know yourself: It’s important to know your strengths and your interests. If you’re not sure how to put it in words, then the myCareerCompanion platform could be a great help! When you make an account on the platform; your input will be funneled into concise keywords that you can use to define yourself and your skills. Moreover, you can discover which types of job functions and company cultures suit you the most! Smart tip: don’t forget to use this information for your job fair preparation.
Prepare your elevator pitch: This should be a 30-second summary about yourself. Give a quick synopsis of your skills, background, and experience. Tell them what you’re passionate about and what you’re looking for. Be yourself and make your story stick! The more you practice saying it, the easier it will be to say.
Try to network: People do business with people they know, like and trust. Make sure to exchange names and add them on LinkedIn.
Research the company and the people that will be present, if possible: It’s important to know who is in front of you and you’ll be familiar with the participating employers. You are more likely to ask relevant questions when you have background info. Boost your knowledge and check their websites and social media accounts. For example, the mission statement of each company of interest and the openings listed on the career page.
Dress for success: You can better be overdressed than underdressed. Wear neat and nice clothing but make sure you’re comfortable in it. You have to keep in mind that this also counts for online job fairs!
Be in the driver’s seat
During the job fair, you have to take the lead and let them know you are there to make good connections and apply for possible job opportunities.
First of all, you have to set your goals. Who are you interested in? If you prepare relevant questions and subjects to talk about, it will make you stand out from the crowd. Of course, that’s what you want to accomplish. The best questions to ask at a job fair include "What skills do you look for most in a candidate for X position?" and "What is one of the biggest challenges of the job?". If you personalize your list of questions before the job fair, you can learn more about the topics that interest you the most.
Secondly, you have to be as enthusiastic as you can be. Ask your questions and grab their attention. At the same time, show interest by listening and paying attention to what they have to say. Try not to spend too much time with one person. Now is your time to shine and let all the people know what you’re capable of. Besides your verbal communication, you should be aware of your non-verbal communication. A small tip: be a real professional and don’t look at your phone.
Thirdly, choose quality over quantity. If you focus on 3 companies you’re truly interested in, you will get more out of it.
Don’t miss the boat
When you attend a job fair, write down the names of the people you’ve spoken with, to be able to connect with them afterwards. You can use a follow-up mail on LinkedIn. The ideal timing is the day after the job fair. Why? In this way you’ll remind them of yourself and leave a positive mark.
Job fairs are great opportunities to make the next step in your career. Whether they are online or in real life; it’s important to always come prepared. Dylan agrees on this statement, he believes that other organizations would also truly benefit from a collaboration with the myCareerCompanion platform. The tool is designed to help its users define what they want, in order to make better connections on the labour market. A good preparation for a job fair, can lead to the best possible preparation for the job market later on in life.