By Rachel Dhaliwal
Senior Career Coach, GCDF, CCSP, EQ-i 2.0
and Kass Williams
Career Services Coordinator
If you’re attending our Nationwide Virtual Career Fair (VCF) on May 26 — open to the public as well as university students and alumni — you may have given some thought to what materials you’ll bring and what you’ll say to recruiters at the event. But have you considered what to say to a recruiter after the Virtual Career Fair?
Virtual Career Fairs give participants the opportunity to speak directly with recruiters and other company representatives to learn more about an organization and potentially be invited to interview for a position. But attending a VCF is only part of the process. While these events help you develop connections with industry leaders, growing and nurturing these connections beyond the VCF is crucial to your continued success.
After speaking with recruiters at a VCF, it’s best to follow up with them within 24 hours. This strategy helps to ensure those recruiters remember who you are. It also reinforces your interest in the employer and helps you cultivate a relationship with someone within the company.
Before contacting a recruiter directly, follow the company and connect with the recruiter on LinkedIn. You can then send a follow-up message using the contact information you received during the VCF.
The Various Goals of a Follow-Up Message
Depending on the conversation you had with a recruiter and your unique situation, the goal of your follow-up message may differ. If you’ve applied to a specific position, for instance, you might want to discuss the position in more detail or, if applicable, discuss next steps in the hiring process.
But sometimes, establishing a connection with a recruiter is the entire point of sending a follow-up message. Recruiters will post updates about new job positions, so following them on LinkedIn can introduce you to more job opportunities. A recruiter could even leave one company to work for another, broadening your access to available positions.
What to Include in a Follow-Up Message
It’s not uncommon for us Career Coaches to hear VCF participants say, “What do I even say? I don’t want to talk too much, but I also don’t want my email to fail to capture their interest.” These concerns are valid, but fortunately, composing a brief follow-up message that covers the necessities is simpler than you might think.
When you’re writing your follow-up message, try to incorporate these elements:
- Thank the recruiter for his or her time at the VCF.
- Briefly recap your previous conversation.
- If applicable, remind the recruiter of the position to which you applied, including your confirmation number if you received one.
- Express your interest in the company and position(s).
- Discuss your next steps.
Here is an example of what all of these elements might look like together:
Thank you for your time and expertise yesterday at the Virtual Career Fair. Your insight on the Junior Programmer II position was just the information I needed, and I’m happy to report that I applied last night!
As you requested, the confirmation number I received is #RX107F9. I look forward to discussing our next steps together as soon as possible and to learning more about working at Generation Won. I can be reached at 123-456-7890 or email@example.com at your earliest convenience.
Again, thank you for all of your help!
Using Different Platforms to Follow Up
You may not receive the recruiter’s contact information at the VCF — and that’s okay. Make sure you jot down the recruiter’s full name and the company’s name so you can find the recruiter on LinkedIn and send a follow-up message there.
Often, job seekers don’t know how to communicate with recruiters, especially on sites like LinkedIn. If you plan to follow up with a recruiter via LinkedIn, we encourage you to send an accompanying message with your connection request. Remember, LinkedIn limits your character count in a message, so it will need to be brief but purposeful.
Your goal should be to express your interest in the company and ensure the recruiter remembers you. Don’t forget to thank any recruiter for the time spent at the Virtual Career Fair!
If a recruiter gives you an email address to reach out once you’ve applied to a specific role, send a follow-up message that incorporates all or most of the elements we recommend. You should still send a connection request on LinkedIn before emailing the recruiter.
What If You’re Not Looking for a Job Right Now?
Many students and alumni attend our Virtual Career Fairs to find and apply to job opportunities. However, other participants attend the VCF to network and establish relationships with recruiters for future professional development opportunities.
For example, imagine that you’re a transitioning servicemember who won’t be seeking a job for another few months. Attending a VCF can be useful in developing a relationship with a recruiter for a company in which you’re interested; that relationship could be useful later on when you’re actively seeking a job.
For someone attending the VCF who is not an active job seeker, the follow-up message would be different. It would still incorporate most of the recommended elements, but the goal would be to develop a relationship. Here’s an example:
It was a pleasure speaking with you yesterday at the Virtual Career Fair. Thank you for your advice on how I can prepare to transition to an HR position with First Flight when my active-duty service ends in November. I’ll be keeping an eye on the company and will reach out to you directly as that time draws near.
In the meantime, is there anything I can do between now and then to make your job easier when we get to that point?
Thanks again for your time, and I look forward to keeping in touch!
Three Details to Consider before Sending Your Follow-Up Message
Before following up with recruiters — and before attending a VCF — consider these important details:
- Some companies delegate specific positions to different recruiters. Those recruiters want to fill their assigned requisitions, and often, they won’t have information about a role for which they don’t recruit.
- If you’re interested in a position and the attending recruiter does not have sufficient information, you can still make and maintain a connection with that recruiter at the event. You can also ask for the contact information of the appropriate recruiter for the position that interests you.
- Before applying to a position or sending a follow-up message to a recruiter, research the company and the qualifications a candidate will need to have for that job. It is important to ensure you have the right education and experience for the position, but even more important is your interest in the company. If you like the organization’s mission and culture and think you’d be happy working with them, then apply.
If you’re nervous to send recruiters a follow-up message, don’t be. Their job is to fill assigned requisitions with top-notch candidates. They will be eager to receive a message from someone interested in one of those job opportunities.
Tips for Maintaining a Connection with a Recruiter after a VCF
Once you and a recruiter are connected, stay in touch. If you’re discussing a particular opportunity, keeping in touch will entail direct messaging back and forth. But for those situations that require a “long game” of networking, there are still actions you can take to keep your name foremost in recruiters’ minds.
Like, share and comment on their social media posts. Send them the occasional direct message, such as when you see something great about them or their company. Remember: they can see your other LinkedIn activity, so consider the impact on your brand each time you post or comment on something.
Be genuine. Don’t just interact with them when you need something. They’re recruiters; they know you want a job. But if you remember they are human, you can form a stronger connection.
If you have any questions about following up with recruiters, networking and maintaining connections, university students and alumni can reach out to a Career Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to helping you get to your next goal!
About the Authors
Rachel Dhaliwal is a Senior Career Coach and serves as the point of contact for those interested in applying for the Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) program. In addition to supporting students and alumni throughout their career journeys, she trains and mentors coaching staff. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Troy University, as well as the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), Certified Career Services Professional (CCSP) and the EQ-i 2.0/EQ 360 Certification credentials.
Kass Williams serves as the Career Services Coordinator, employing her communication, editing and project management skills to support the Career Services Department with content creation. She holds a B.A. in English with a Writing Concentration from Davis & Elkins College.