Career Compass: Preparing for Virtual Career Fairs

It’s career fair season – and this year all career fairs are virtual! Employers are discovering that the virtual format makes career fairs easier, more efficient, and less time-consuming, so it’s likely that virtual career fairs are here to stay. At these events students can meet with employers for brief one-on-one virtual conversations to discuss job opportunities and students’ career interests & qualifications. Virtual career fairs are hiring events for currently active job seekers, so be sure to review the companies and job openings before you decide whether to attend. 

Follow these 9 steps to ensure that you’re prepared for success at your next virtual career fair!

1.  Know yourself – Employers prefer candidates who can articulate their strengths, skills and interests, and understand the jobs and career fields which fit them well. Take a career assessment such as Focus2Career and meet with a BCC career coach to assess and explore your career options.

2.  Prepare your resume – All students should have a competitive resume to share with employers at virtual career fairs. Use the BCC Resume Guide to draft your resume. Meet with your career coach to polish your resume or submit your resume for online resume review through UICcareers.com.

3.  Research companies – Study the list of companies which will be attending the career fair, as well as the positions for which they are hiring. Review the company websites and consider using UIC research guides for additional research.

4.  Create your target lists – Based on what you have learned through your company research; which companies interest you the most? Prioritize your list of companies and create an “A list”, “B list” and “C list.” This will help you plan which companies to target at the fair. Be ready to tell employers why you’re interested in their company and the job for which you are applying. 

5.  Prepare questions for recruiters – Strong applicants ask good questions! Avoid asking basic questions about what the company does or whether they are hiring interns – this shows a lack of preparation. Ask thoughtful questions about the company culture, types of projects to expect, and the most important skills/qualities they’re seeking in an applicant.

6.  Get your elevator pitch ready and practice! – Be ready to introduce yourself to the employer with a 30 second pitch in which you highlight your key skills and experiences, while also sharing your interest in the job/industry. Attend a Preparing for Virtual Career Fairs workshop to learn more and practice your elevator pitch.

7.  Learn the logistics – Virtual career fairs may operate differently, depending on the technology platform. Visit UICcareers.com and watch this video to learn how to access and participate in the Business Career Center’s virtual career fairs.

8.  Be “Camera Ready” – Dress professionally (at least from the waist up!), use a neutral or virtual background, check your lighting, internet connection, audio and  camera view in advance, and eliminate any background noise or distractions. The goal is to appear as confident, poised and comfortable on the screen as you would in  person.

9.  Follow up with recruiters – Send thank you emails promptly to the employers you spoke to and apply online for the positions which interest you. After the career fair employers may contact you to arrange an interview.

Remember that virtual career fairs are only one way to land an internship or full time job. Many employers use other methods and resources to hire interns and new graduates. To learn more about other opportunities and job search strategies, go to UICcareers.com and meet with your BCC career coach. Good luck!