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Career Monday: How to Succeed at Virtual Job Fairs

You’re probably used to job fairs where you walk through row after row of booths staffed by recruiters, and collect free pens with company names. Today, the scene is changing.

Virtual job fairs allow you to hunt for opportunities without leaving home, but you may need to update your approach. Study these tips before you attend your next virtual event.

Steps to Take Before a Virtual Job Fair

1. Plan ahead. Virtual job fairs can be more convenient, yet more challenging, than the traditional format. The ease of participation means more events, recruiters, and information. Establish priorities so you know where to concentrate your efforts.

2. Edit your profiles. Does your LinkedIn summary need tweaking? If you’re making your Twitter account public, ensure your comments are suitable for the office.

3. Beef up your website. Go a step further to showcase your talents and samples of your work. Even a basic website or blog gives you a venue to write about your industry and show that you’re keeping up with the latest news.

4. Take a headshot. Pictures make a strong impression. Depending on your budget, visit a professional photographer or ask a talented friend for help.

5. Test your equipment. At a minimum, you’ll need a reliable internet connection. It’s also a good idea to try out your webcam and microphone in advance.

6. Review your materials. If you’ve been looking for a new position, you’ve probably already researched keywords for your resume and proofread it at least once. Now that you’re sharing your documents online, you’ll also want to check that they can be viewed correctly on mobile devices.

7. Work on your introduction. Some fairs will offer video chats while others will support text messages only. Rehearse your elevator pitch for both formats.

8. Prepare for interviews. One of the reasons employers like online career fairs is that they speed up the hiring process. You may be invited for an impromptu video interview so clean up your work space and wear a suit.

Steps to Take During and After a Virtual Job Fair

1. Act professional. If you’re used to communicating in a casual tone while you’re online, stay alert. In most industries, you’ll want to avoid slang or trendy text abbreviations.

2. Budget your time. Traditional and digital job fairs have at least one thing in common. You may run into long lines at the recruiting booths for popular companies. See if you can drop off your resume instead of waiting around. It also helps to arrive early and allow some extra time in case of delays.

3. Take notes. Write down your observations and comments. You’ll be able to refer to them later when you’re reviewing your day and deciding how you want to move ahead.

4. Broaden your education. Many career fairs offer extras like webinars and workshops on job hunting or industry topics. Take advantage of programs that could add to your knowledge and skills.

5. Gather contact information. Recruiting events are also an ideal setting for networking. Read over the list of companies who are attending and look up their key staff on LinkedIn. Introduce yourself to other participants, and follow up with phone calls or coffee dates.

6. Say thanks. Remember to thank others for their time and assistance. Send an email to the company representative who gave you a valuable referral. Post a comment online letting the hosts know how much you appreciated their event.

As virtual career fairs become more popular, they’ll play a larger role in your job search. Learn how to make a strong impression online so you’ll be ready to land your next position and advance your career.

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