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How to prepare for virtual career fairs

College Students: How to Prepare for Virtual Career Fairs

Are you a Gen Zer who’s about to attend your first virtual career fair? With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, attending virtual career fairs is a great way to get your foot in the door and network with potential employers. But let’s face it – virtual events can be daunting, and it can be challenging to stand out in a sea of job seekers.

As a career coach, I help students prepare for virtual career fairs, to help you feel good about how you present yourself to employers. In this post, I’ll show you how to prepare for virtual career fairs that are geared towards Gen Z and the current hiring market. Get ready to make a lasting impression on recruiters and have a blast while doing it!

Dress to impress (well, on top anyways)

Since virtual career fairs usually involve video conferencing, it’s important to dress professionally. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable or sacrifice your personal style. In fact, one of the perks of virtual career fairs is that you have more flexibility with your attire since you’re only visible from the waist up. They key here is to look good AND feel good- whatever that means to you.

To have some fun with your outfit, consider wearing a nice top or blouse in a color that complements your skin tone or makes you feel confident. You can choose a fun pattern or design that showcases your personality or opt for a classic look that’s always in style. Make sure that the top is comfortable and fits well, so that you feel confident and at ease.

As for your bottom half, you have a few options. If you prefer to wear traditional pants or a skirt, that’s totally fine. However, if you want to add some extra comfort and fun to your outfit, consider wearing comfortable pants or even pajama bottoms. Just make sure that they’re not visible on camera, and that you can easily transition to a more professional outfit if needed. This advice applies to virtual or Zoom interviews too so get yourself an outfit you love and can wear a few times.

Research the companies

Before the virtual career fair, do some research on the companies attending. Check out their websites and social media profiles to learn more about their values and mission. This will help identify which companies align with your career goals. You’ll also want to create a few talking points on each employer too.

Once you determine which employers resonate with you, apply to open positions, and develop questions to ask the recruiter about the role to show your interest and seriousness of your candidacy. Then, customize and practice your elevator speech or pitch towards the specific role and organization using your market research to highlight values, skills, and abilities the employer is seeking. If you aren’t sure what those are- read the job descriptions! The answers are there.

Prepare your elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a brief summary of your skills, experience, and goals. It’s important to prepare this ahead of time, so that you can confidently and succinctly introduce yourself to recruiters. Remember, career fairs are social events for humans to connect socially. No one wants to hear a boring or robotic resuscitation of facts.

Your elevator pitch is like the introductory paragraph to yourself, and just like an introductory paragraph, you need a hook to get their attention. Some people may do this with a joke or an interesting fact about themselves, or the moment itself may serve as your hook. Be sure to get comfortable with your elevator pitch and rehearse it aloud until you can say it organically and confidently. The more comfortable you are with speech the better it will sound. This will allow you to pull it out at any opportunity and hopefully nail that important meet que.

Update your resume/LinkedIn

This one should seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t update their resume or LinkedIn profile before career fairs! Make sure your resume is up-to-date and tailored to the specific companies you’re interested in. Consider creating a digital version you can easily share with recruiters during the virtual career fair. If you are feeling fancy, consider creating a QR code in Canva and posting that as a picture in virtual chats so recruiters can scan it quickly to access your documents.

Get your tech ready

I know you don’t necessarily need an elder millennial career coach telling you to check your tech before a virtual career fair but trust me, check it. Before you dive into the virtual career fair world, make sure your tech is ready to rumble. Don’t be the one with the spotty internet connection or the camera that’s pointed towards the ceiling (we’ve all been there).

Let’s cover some basics. Make sure your internet connection is strong enough to handle video conferencing without freezing up like a penguin in Antarctica. Test out the video conferencing software beforehand so you don’t end up fumbling around like a seal trying to juggle a ball. You’ll feel like a pro when you join the meeting, adjust your settings, and use cool features like screen sharing and chat.

Be sure to check your audio and video quality before the big day. You don’t want to look like a pixelated mess or sound like a robot. Lastly, be sure to have a backup plan just in case your tech decides to play hooky. It could be as simple as having a phone number or email address for the recruiter, or having a backup device on hand in case your primary device fails.

Network and have fun!

Remember, career fairs are about connecting with people humanly. Don’t be afraid to network and connect with other attendees too. Use the chat function to ask questions and engage in conversations. And remember, career fairs can be fun! Take breaks, enjoy some snacks, and don’t forget to have a good time.