You’ve been through face-to-face interviews. You’ve talked with prospective employers on the phone. You’ve walked down the aisles of traditional career fairs. But as more and more companies turn to virtual job fairs, you will need to make a good impression through chat rooms and instant messages as well, and spot an opportunity virtually.
A virtual job fair is a great interactive channel to find employment. You get exposure and access to many companies immediately. A Bayt.com survey entitled “Employee Retention in the MENA Workplace” (February 2013) revealed that 32.5% found their last job online.
But as with any job interview or traditional job fair, being prepared is key. Here are some tips for making the most of a virtual job fair:
1. Test your computer before the event: Test your computer and webcam to ensure your experience is as smooth as possible. It sounds simple, but you don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute trying to login or have a proper video interview with a prospective employer.
2. Make sure your resume is up-to-date: Your resume is one of the first things that potential employers see first, it’s important to proofread it carefully and highlight your top accomplishments clearly. Poor format, sloppy grammar and spelling mistakes are all a no-no, so pay attention to that.
3. Research employers: You never want to enter a conversation with an employer without knowing about them. See the list of participating employers, then go to their company websites and do your research. This is knowledge that will serve you well during the fair.
4. Set some career goals: Instead of saying that you’re ‘open to any opportunities’, mention your professional strengths, specific skills and interests. This will increase your chances to land a job. You may also create an elevator pitch or a short personal brand statement that will help you explain the value you can bring to an employer.
5. Prepare a script: At a traditional job fair, you must be spontaneous and think on your feet. But a virtual event means you can consult your notes during conversations. Your notes could include details about past projects, facts about the organization and a list of questions to ask the employer.
6. Be professional at all times: Virtual job fairs are more relaxed than in-person interviews, but the general rules of professional decorum still apply. Once you’ve engaged in a conversation, avoid using emoticons, slang and internet abbreviations. Follow the same guidelines as when you’re writing a business email.
7. Check your digital footprint: The virtual environment allows employers to look up your online profiles, browse your Facebook page or read your tweets – all during your interview. So before attending a virtual job fair, search for yourself online, update your social media profiles, and hide inappropriate photos or posts from public view, because chances are employers will be googling your name as you speak.
8. Get ready for a close-up: It’s tempting to dress casually for a virtual career fair. But a promising conversation with a recruiter could lead to a Skype conversation with a web camera in minutes. So dress your best from head to toe just in case. Bayt.com’s “Influence of Personal Appearance on Hiring Decisions” survey (March 2013) revealed that 76.4% of people in the MENA region believe that hiring decisions are influenced by a candidate’s physical appearance. Also make sure your background is clean and tidy. Remember, employers will be looking for the same level of professionalism, preparedness and vigilance as in a physical interview.
9. Follow up: Take notes on every job you applied for and every person you spoke with. Write down their names and any key details from the conversation then send a thank you email that mentions something about your discussion. If you don’t receive a response within a couple of weeks, be sure to follow up. 70% of employers consider that following up is essential and gives a candidate an edge over other applicants, as shown in Bayt.com’s “Hiring Practices in the MENA Region” (February 2012). Let the company know you’re still available and interested in the position, and find out the status of your application.
10. Be enthusiastic: Remember, 28.8% of employers in the region are looking for hunger, drive and ambition as the most important thing when making hiring decisions. The best way to stand out is to express sincere interest in the job opening and knowledge of the organization. Be sure to share this with the company representatives!