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Insider Tips: Succeeding at the Next Virtual Career Fair

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By Kass Williams
Career Services Coordinator, APUS

and Roxanne Ferreira
Career Coach, APUS

Our Business and IT Virtual Career Fair (VCF) is just around the corner on October 21, 2020! Whether you’ve never attended a VCF before or were left dissatisfied at a previous one, we want to make sure your next experience is a success.

Why Should You Attend a Virtual Career Fair?

You might be wondering whether a Virtual Career Fair is right for you. Attending a VCF is an excellent way to network with top employers in your industry, especially for introverts who find in-person engagement difficult. But its benefits extend far beyond engaging in a casual, virtual environment.

At a VCF, you have the chance to chat with recruiters and make a good first impression, putting yourself, rather than your resume, before employers. You can also ask questions about specific positions and discuss how your unique background, education, and skillset could support the company.

Even if featured positions are not applicable to you, there are still many benefits to attending a VCF. These events are unique opportunities to network with many people as well as review and learn about available positions. But if you want to have a rewarding experience at a Virtual Career Fair, there are a few tasks you should consider beforehand.

Register now for the Virtual Career Fair on October 21!

Perform Focus-Based Research

Our Virtual Career Fairs feature various employers spanning several industries. While performing preliminary research before attending a VCF is a good idea, reviewing every employer who will be at the VCF can be overwhelming.

Focus on a select few employers in your target area and industry. Then research the companies’ missions, locations and available positions. This research will help you:

  • Determine which employers you are interested in
  • Tailor your resume to their position(s)
  • Impress recruiters

Recruiters want to speak with qualified and prepared candidates, so be sure to apply to open positions prior to the Virtual Career Fair. When you’re chatting with a recruiter, indicate that you’ve already applied to a specific job. This knowledge will help you guide the conversation.

Remember: if you haven’t performed any research on an employer but want to enter their booth during the event, you can always perform an impromptu Google search. Don’t let a lack of preparation deter you from a job opportunity!

Craft a VCF-Friendly Resume

The resume you upload for the event should be concise and easily scannable. Keep your resume one page in length, including your most relevant information and top qualifications. A concise resume will help recruiters locate important information while they’re chatting with you.

However, you should tailor your resume to the job description when you’re applying to a specific position. Showcase your relevant experience, skills and achievements. In addition, you’ll want to include keywords listed in the job description to ensure your resume is optimized for applicant tracking software.

To apply to a position during or before the event, click on the link that takes you to the company’s job page. Then, apply on their site so they can easily track your application. Before you apply to a position, consider contacting a Career Coach for help crafting a top-notch resume.

Define Your Goals for the Virtual Career Fair

Have you pondered what your goals will be for the VCF? The goal of attending a Virtual Career Fair is not to receive a job offer, but to accomplish other goals, such as:

  • Receiving recruiters’ contact information so you can follow up with a thank-you note or inquiry.
  • Requesting an email address or phone number for the appropriate point of contact if the recruiter for a position in which you’re interested is not present. Most recruiters will not answer questions about positions for which they do not recruit, so be sure to ask for contact information instead.
  • Arranging a follow-up to discuss employment with the organization.

Before asking for contact information or scheduling a follow-up from a recruiter, you will need to introduce yourself and begin a conversation. You cannot begin a direct chat with a recruiter. Instead, you must deliver a message in the group chat first, then the recruiter may engage with you one-on-one.

Introduce yourself to the recruiter by using the past-present-future formula. Then ask specific questions about the positions in which you are interested. By following these steps, you will present yourself as a prepared, confident and inquisitive candidate.

Remember What Your Responsibilities Are for a VCF

Attending a Virtual Career Fair can feel disorienting if you’re unprepared. Knowing how to use the platform and interact with recruiters will help you feel more confident during the event. Keep the following things in mind before and when entering the event:

  • It’s not the recruiter’s responsibility to find you a job. Employers give recruiters specific positions to fill, and then recruiters seek qualified candidates for those positions.
  • Your job is to apply to open positions, find the contact information for the appropriate recruiters and introduce yourself as an excellent candidate.

The first step in ensuring a rewarding VCF experience is to discern the difference between your and the recruiter’s roles. The second step is to prepare for the event. To successfully prepare for a VCF, follow this simple guide.

Anna Hosey VCF Infographic
Image courtesy of Anna Hosey, Career Services.

Your Virtual Career Fair experience may or may not resemble this process, but even if it doesn’t, it can still be rewarding. Networking with professionals, having conversations with recruiters and reviewing the qualifications for positions in which you’re interested will help you in the long run. If you aren’t ready to apply to a position right away, the VCF experience will prepare you for the moment you are ready to apply.

For assistance, contact Career Services. Our team of expert coaches can help you pinpoint employers to research, review your resume and prepare you to speak with recruiters. Partnering with a coach can make the preparation and research process easier, so get started today!

The event begins on October 21, 2020 from 9 a.m. ET – 3 p.m. ET. Register today, and be sure to check your email for reminders and other information.

About the Authors

Kass Williams serves as the Career Services Coordinator for APUS, 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.

Roxanne Ferreira has been a Career Coach at American Public University System since June 2019 and has over nine years of experience in education. Prior to working for APUS, she was a lead teacher at Ocean State Montessori School in East Providence, Rhode Island and a teacher for Killingly Public Schools in Killingly, Connecticut. Roxanne has a B.A. in elementary education from Rhode Island College.

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