So, are you thinking about participating in the Northeastern University Virtual Career Fair on March 25th? Have you been to a virtual career fair? Are you wondering what to expect?
As an employer, I can say we ask the same questions. For many companies a virtual career fair is a fairly new experience. Over the past few years, there has been a shift in recruiting across the board from print media, online job postings, career fairs to social media and beyond. The in-person career fairs have seen a decline in popularity for a variety of reasons including tightening budgets, needing to target recruiting to specific skill sets due to shifting demand, and increases in applicant flow through traditional means. So why a virtual career fair?
It is easy, we want to meet you! Employers want you to have the opportunity to meet us and be connected to us for short-term and long-term opportunities. We have the opportunity to not just view a resume but to spend time with you answering questions and engaging with you. The best part is you don’t have to get all dressed up to attend.
I have had the opportunity to participate in several virtual career fairs over the last few years. It is a unique experience and I have found that individuals who are successful with this medium have the following characteristics in common:
- Strong Resumes: candidates’ resumes have been reviewed by career services and highlight key accomplishments and achievements in a concise manner.
- Research Conducted: candidates have researched the companies in attendance and know what the company does; this includes giving some thought as to how the candidate fits into the company from a skills and experience perspective.
- Engaging: strong candidates don’t just hover or lurk, they approach the employer and ask questions about the work environment and culture; however, they craft the questions to demonstrate their business acumen. Questions about vacation days may not be the best way to approach an employer.
- Prepared “Elevator Speech”: strong candidates know why they are strong and can articulate it in a short, concise way that links accomplishments and experience with the nature of the company’s work. Don’t have an elevator speech? Contact your career services office to help develop one.
- Avoid “Gotcha Questions”: don’t ask questions that may put a bad light on the employer especially in front of others; you may think you have a strong question, but it may end up being perceived as negative. Work with your career services office to develop questions that will put you in the best position.
- Be Patient: the employer is going to be outnumbered and we don’t want to brush anyone off so if the best candidates are patient. The employer will want to review resumes and finish out other conversations. You may not know how many conversations the employer is conducting at one time across multiple private chats.
- Smile: what? It is a virtual fair. Don’t let that stop you from smiling. A smile comes across in how you interact online. So, the best candidates don’t use all CAPS and are personable.
Above all, enjoy the experience. It is an opportunity for you to expand your relationships. You may not get a position immediately with one of the firms, but look to establish a relationship with those you engage. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and connect to those with whom you meet. A long-term professional relationship is a very valuable outcome.
Hope to see you at the fair!
Christopher Carlson is a s Sr. Manager of Talent Delivery Programs at Booz Allen Hamilton. Based in Florida, Christopher is a member of Booz Allen Hamilton’s People Services Team. He leads the firm’s university, transitioning military, social recruiting teams. He is responsible for building strategies and relationships for leveraging these channels to ensure Booz Allen Hamilton’s position as an employer of choice and to deliver the next generation of talent to the organization.