NEWS + ADVICE
Tips From Recruiters to Help You Excel in a Virtual Job Fair
Virtual job fairs are a valuable tool in your cleared job search, offering the ability to interact with multiple cleared employers without any physical or geographical limitations. While there is much to gain from participating in these virtual events, don’t let your experience fall flat because you don’t put your best professional foot forward. Consider these tips from recruiters to help you prepare for the event, excel in your chats, and send effective follow-up communications.
Just as with in-person job fairs, we can’t stress enough how important preparation is. The more legwork you do prior to the event, the better you’ll perform when it’s show time. Take these key preparation steps before your next virtual job fair to maximize your limited time during the event and present yourself as a prepared professional:
RESEARCH THE COMPANIES AND POSITIONS
Always take time to prepare for your chats by researching the participating companies and their available positions before each job fair. “Just as we get an opportunity to prepare by reviewing resumes in advance, candidates should take advantage of whatever lead-time they have,” advises Rob Stout, Lead Recruiter, Lumen.
You can do this research by reviewing the job seeker handbook (sent in your confirmation email), which details the employers and the jobs they’ll be seeking to fill during the virtual job fair. Once you’re registered on the event platform, Brazen, you can log in and take a look at the virtual employer booths in advance to learn more about each company.
“Research the participating companies and do your best to get an understanding of what the companies are all about—how their products, services, and the technologies they employ apply to your background,” adds Rob Stout.
In addition to having some knowledge about the company itself, identify some specific jobs that interest you. “It helps you and the recruiter jump right into what jobs you’re interested in and qualified for,” explains Amy Hargrove, Senior Technical Recruiter, SAIC. “If you come in ready and say I want job XYZ, then we know exactly what screening questions to ask and what next steps to give you.”
COME PREPARED WITH QUESTIONS
As you research the companies and identify positions that you’re interested in, think about the questions you’d like to ask recruiters at the job fair. They can be specific to each employer you hope to chat with, or more general, such as questions about remote work opportunities.
“Come with questions that you don’t necessarily see answered on the company’s career page,” suggests Daniel Kim, Recruiter, PAE. “For example, company benefits, opportunities for upward mobility, what the company’s culture is all about—something that will help you realize if you’re a good fit for the company or not.”
Thoughtful questions not only help you gain the information you’re seeking, but they can also exhibit your level of interest and in some cases show a recruiter that you’ve done your homework. If you don’t see a position that matches your interests or skills listed with an employer’s openings, ask them. Companies often can’t list all of their job openings on their job fair page. There might be an opportunity that suits you, but you won’t always know if you don’t ask.
PREPARE A CHEAT SHEET
Since your chats will be text-based, you have the opportunity to prepare clear, concise responses about you, your experience, and your goals that you can easily copy and paste into the chat window.
“In a Word document ahead of time, type up some of the things you know you’re going to type multiple times, to make it easy on yourself,” says Rachel Bozeman, Manager Talent Acquisition and Diversity Recruiting, Lumen. This could include your introduction, any expected responses, and the questions you plan to ask.
“If you have a pre-canned or pre-packaged elevator pitch, it will be easy to cut and paste from a document into the virtual platform’s chat,” adds Rob Stout. This groundwork will help you jump right into your conversations and maximize the efficiency of your timed chats.
CHECK YOUR TECH
The final advance preparation step of any virtual event is checking your technology. Make sure you’re using the most updated version of your browser and that you have a good internet connection. Run this service check link to make sure you can access the event without firewall or other issues. Also run this service check link to check your audio and video capability.
Excelling on the Day of the Event
When it comes to the big day, “Prepare as you would for a regular in-person job fair,” advises Daniel Kim. “Dress up, have your resume available to you, be focused with the recruiters that you’re talking to, and try to keep all other distractions to a minimum.” Keep these tips in mind:
ARRIVE EARLY AND SET THE SCENE
You can log in to Brazen before the event goes live. Arrive early to check your tech again and also ensure that your computer has already done its updates for the day, so it doesn’t do it during the event and possibly boot you off during a great conversation.
Close unnecessary browser windows and other applications, and set up in an area with limited distractions. “Try not to be in a public place,” urges Rob Stout. “You want to do everything you can to minimize interruptions, to give the best impression you can without distractions.”
This will be especially important if an employer asks you to video or audio chat on the platform. So dress professionally and be prepared to be on camera. Even if you’re unable to participate in a video chat, getting dressed professionally will help put you in the right frame of mind.
TALK TO EVERY COMPANY
Each company you speak with at the virtual event could be your next potential employer, so maximize your opportunity by talking to all of them. It’s in your best interest as a cleared job seeker to wait in as many chat lines as possible. Don’t worry, the software algorithm will automatically sort you to the next available representative. Just be sure you keep your volume up while waiting in line, so you don’t miss the alert that you’ve been connected to an employer.
This is your first step in the interview process—an important one to learn more about what an employer looks for and if it matches your cleared job search requirements. Make the most of your time in each chat to form a great impression, expand your network of recruiters, and gain consideration for the next step in the hiring process.
BE OPEN TO AUDIO AND VIDEO CHATS
While virtual job fair platforms rely heavily on text-based chats, Brazen also allows recruiters to initiate audio and video features within the chats. Christian Corpuz, Senior Recruiter at ERPi says, “Both parties get much more from a video or audio chat vs. only a text chat. It’s more organic and there’s more flow, more rapport, and more personality.”
If a recruiter asks if you’d like to move the conversation over to either an audio or video chat, try to say yes unless you have a legitimate reason that prevents you from doing so. Participating in an audio or video chat “demonstrates that you are ready to do what’s required in jobs today, where virtual video conversations are happening all the time,” adds Christian Corpuz. It’s also “a great way to practice your interviewing skills before you get to the hiring manager.”
More than once, Christian has experienced candidates simply ignoring the question about the video chat, and the candidates would continue typing in the text chat as if the question had never been asked. If you really don’t want to accept an invitation to video chat, consider asking the recruiter if they’d be okay with an audio chat instead—it’s a good comprise.
“It’s okay to not use video, but if a recruiter asks, type a response instead of acting as if they didn’t ask you,” urges Christian Corpuz. Whatever you choose, just be sure to practice good “netiquette.”
ASK FOR CONTACT INFO
Each recruiter will have a copy of your resume, but you won’t automatically have their information. If you want to be sure you’ll be able to reach out to them after the event, “Get the recruiter’s contact information up-front,” advises Amy Hargrove. “It’s really important to, right out the gate, try to ask for their email so you can follow-up.”
Many recruiters will be happy to share their email address if you simply remember to ask. “If the recruiter is hesitant to give you their contact info you can go to LinkedIn and try to contact them that way,” suggests Rob Stout. And if the recruiter added their LinkedIn URL when registering on Brazen, you’ll see a LinkedIn icon on the right side of the chat, near their name. It’s not a bad idea to bookmark those as you go.
Save a few minutes at the end of your chats to discuss next steps with the recruiter, and get their contact info if you haven’t already. When your chats end, note any follow-up actions you plan to take. Do you need to send an updated or targeted version of your resume? Do you plan to apply to the position?
You can rate your chat and take notes on the chat conclusion page, which you can review after the event to help with your follow-up efforts. Keep in mind that any audio or video chats you participated in will not be transcribed, so take any additional notes you may want to refer back to.
Once all is said and done, it’s time to start working on following up with all the recruiters you chatted with. Even if a job opportunity isn’t the right fit, send a thank you note or connect on LinkedIn to expand your network of recruiters. Consider these tips for successful follow-up:
Follow the directions the recruiter has given you, but don’t be afraid to give them a call or send an email. As you prepare to write your follow-up notes, refer back to your chat history in Brazen.
You’ll be able to log back in for up to two weeks to review your chat transcripts and any notes you took—but don’t wait two weeks to reach back out to the recruiters you talked with. A good timeframe to wait before you send that follow-up is about 24 hours.
“I love a good thank you note,” says Amy Hargrove. “The virtual job fairs are not for us, they’re for you. We want candidates that no longer have these job fairs to go to and meet face-to-face with employers to still have that opportunity.”
Wondering what should be in that follow-up email? “Send a quick thank you note to the recruiter for taking the time to speak with you,” says Amy Hargrove. You can add any additional key information you forgot to mention, something you can give further detail about, or refer back to something you chatted about to help them recall who you are.
“And attach your resume even though you’ve already uploaded it to Brazen,” adds Amy Hargrove. “I appreciate it coming through because then I can easily forward it on to a manager. I also think it’s a best practice to then go and apply for the jobs that you’re interested in.”
Anyone can show up to a virtual event, simply say hello, and ask about what positions are open. But if you take the extra initiative to prepare yourself, shine in your chats, and connect with recruiters after the job fair, you’ll stand a much better chance of landing your next cleared job sooner than later.This entry was posted on Friday, January 22, 2021 4:22 pm