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The Many Advantages of Attending a Virtual Career Fair

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By Leia O’Connell, MSW, GCDF
Corporate Recruiter, APUS

Register to attend the “Back-to-Work” Virtual Career Fair on May 20!

Working in the field of Career Services since 2016 has given me an advantage over other job seekers. I’ve had the opportunity to learn resume tailoring, discover how to ace an interview and gather endless networking tips.

After my first two years as a Career Coach and many successes helping students and alumni secure employment, I felt confident. But it wasn’t until I started working with recruiters as part of the Employer Relations team that I had a better understanding of what it’s like on the other side.

Recruiters are typically flooded with emails, LinkedIn messages, and resumes from their company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Picture being in a crowd at the largest rock concert you’ve ever been to. Now imagine that every person in that crowd is asking you for a job.

If I were actively on the job market tomorrow, I would hunt down each and every Virtual Career Fair (VCF) as the bridge to my next job. Why? There are four reasons.

#1: Attending a Virtual Career Fair Brings You to an Employer’s Attention

Recruiters attend a virtual career fair with a singular purpose: to chat with candidates about their career opportunities. Recruiters aren’t reading their emails or DMs; they’re chatting with you and you have their full attention. Don’t waste it.

#2: A VCF Provides the Opportunity to Outshine Your Competition

Being successful at a VCF is more than just starting a chat; you’re there to outshine other candidates. Remember the first rule of chatting with a recruiter; make the conversation about THEM and not you.

Go into each recruiter chat with a plan. Know the position for which you plan to apply (or have applied), and understand how your skills relate to the qualifications.

Create a quick summary of yourself to relay to a recruiter. In four sentences, share your value and what you’ll bring to the company. Even if the recruiter doesn’t oversee a specific position, they might pass on a great candidate to another recruiter.

Remember, recruiters are there at the VCF to fill positions for their company, NOT to find you a job.

#3: 1:1 Attention from a Recruiter during ‘Down Time’

I’ve seen it time and time again. VCF attendees see an empty booth within the virtual environment and leave quickly. Instead of seeing this opportunity to have a recruiter’s full attention, they pop out of the booth.

If you see an empty booth, this is your moment! Even if you’re not familiar with the position the company offers, do a quick search by geography and position title to see if there’s something that interests you.

You’ve been dying to have recruiters reach back out to you. Here they are waiting for you; take advantage of it.

#4: You Can Focus on Mid-Size Companies with Great Cultures

We’re all drawn to what’s comfortable and familiar. A virtual career fair is no different.

Big-name companies will always have bigger crowds. But I recommend that you focus on mid-size companies with a great culture.

Smaller companies with incredible opportunities are likely to be overlooked at a VCF because they don’t have name recognition. Job seekers targeting these mid-size companies, however, are more likely to get 1:1 attention. They may even move the conversation to the next step of being invited for a follow-up call or interview.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up after the Virtual Career Fair

We’ve all been there – sending out resumes into an ATS void and never hearing back. The best recruiters at a VCF will not only chat about their opportunities, but will schedule a follow-up call for later that week or even later that day.

Now that you know how a virtual career fair can lead to your next career opportunity, join us on May 20 for our Back-to-Work Virtual Career Fair. The Career Services Department is hosting this event in an effort to support students, alumni and members of the public who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Join us for this free event, and chat live with employers eager to share open career opportunities.

At the end of the day, the best job search strategy is a combination of efforts. Apply online, network electronically with friends and family to hear about career opportunities, and attend virtual networking events. The most important piece is understanding how to make the best of each and every one of these opportunities.

About the Author

Leia O’Connell has worked for American Public University System since 2012. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and a Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF). Leia has been an Academic Advisor for the School of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), a Graduate Academic Advisor and a Career Coach. In her current role as a Corporate Recruiter, she forms mutually beneficial relationships with diverse employers. Leia holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hartwick College and a master’s degree in social work from Binghamton University.

Leia O’Connell has worked for the university since 2012 and is currently a Corporate Recruiter. She has been an Academic Advisor for the School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, a Graduate Academic Advisor, and a Career Coach. Leia holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hartwick College and a master’s degree in social work from Binghamton University.

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