Today’s job interview is evolving. Companies that once recruited solely from a local talent pool are expanding their talent searches beyond the radius of their home cities, identifying top performers through virtual career fairs and diversifying their workforces through remote hiring.
Your college or alma mater is a great place to start when looking for virtual career fair opportunities. The University of Arizona Global Campus held two virtual career fairs in 2020 and plans to hold more this year. In the meantime, read on and find out how you can prepare for any virtual career fair. And as always, reach out to Career Services for more help in your job search.
What Is a Virtual Career Fair?
Typically, when you register for a virtual career fair, you will have the opportunity to engage with a number of employers inside their respective chat rooms. Participating employers will provide a window of time as well as a list of posted jobs, as well as required qualifications or academic experience. By doing so in advance, they are giving you a chance to prepare and develop specific questions about specific positions.
Usually, you won’t be alone in these chat rooms, and other participants will be there asking and responding to questions. However, there typically are opportunities for private chat and some employers will be ready to conduct one-on-one video interviews on the spot.
4 Tips on How to Prepare for a Virtual Career Fair
So, how can you become one of these virtual hire success stories? Here are four ways to prepare for a virtual career fair.
1. Get your resume up to date and optimized
Unlike a conventional career fair, you won’t be carrying around copies of your resume to hand to recruiters, but you still need one. At a virtual hiring fair, a recruiter may ask you to send a resume directly via email or submit it via the company’s online hiring portal.
In both cases, you’ll want to update your resume and ensure it includes these basic components:
- Contact Information
- Professional Experience
- Community Involvement (if applicable)
- Professional Organizations (if applicable)
- Summary of Qualifications
If you’ve been asked to submit your resume through an online hiring portal, you’ll want to be ready for the “resume robots,” Resume robots are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that scan your resume for keywords and phrases relevant to the position, and determine whether it will be forwarded to a database for hiring managers.
While you already know that you should always tailor your resume to match the company and position you’re seeking, overcoming an ATS requires an optimization strategy. Services such as Tagcrowd, or Jobscan can help you identify essential keywords that should be included within the text, so that a hiring manager combing the resume database for those keywords will find yours at the top of the search results.
2. Get a head start with a resume book
It’s important to know going into a virtual hiring fair that a recruiter may not be able to spend time with every potential applicant. If you want to boost your chances that your optimized resume will be seen, upload it to a resume book.
Resume books are online databases developed by universities to connect recruiters with students and alumni who are searching for work. Once your school has uploaded your resume, employers can search the book for specific criteria, including academic background, technical proficiencies, work experience, and specialized skills.
UAGC students are given the choice to opt-in and include their resume in one of five books:
Alumni: This book provides recruiters with resumes of UAGC alumni who are actively looking for a job.
Military Affiliated Students & Alumni with Security Clearances: Designed for employers who are looking to hire transitioning military personnel and veterans, this is the primary option for service members to consider. Uploading your resume into this book will allow Career Services to connect recruiters to students and alumni with security clearances (e.g. DHS, DOE, PUBLIC TRUST, SECRET, SECRET POLY, SECRET/SSBI, TOP SECRET, TS/SCI, TS/SCI CI POLY, TS/SCI FS POLY, TS/SCI POLY, TS/SSBI, etc.).
Opt-In Resume Book for Military Spouses: This book provides recruiters and hiring managers exclusive access to resumes of Global Campus military spouses seeking jobs or internships.
Opt-In Resume Book for the College of Arts and Sciences: This book provides recruiters and hiring managers with easy access to students completing degree programs through the College of Arts & Sciences.
Opt-In Resume Book for the Forbes School of Business & Technology®: This book provides recruiters and hiring managers with easy access to students completing degree programs through the Forbes School of Business and Technology. Job seekers using resume books also gain an additional advantage in that they eliminate unconscious bias – prejudices that aren’t outwardly projected and are sometimes subconscious – from the hiring process.
3. Do your research and prepare to ask questions
Just like an in-person career fair, you’ll know in advance which companies will be participating. Recruiters or hiring managers in the chat rooms will want to see that you’re prepared, so do your research by looking up the company and posted position online. You’ll want to write down specific questions related to the job you’re seeking, and make the connections between the job requirements and your skills and experience.
There’s more. You can start networking in advance by connecting with present or past employees on LinkedIn. With the right connection, you can learn more about the company or even start a conversation with a hiring manager before you join the career fair.
You should also do some research into the company’s culture. Look for reviews of the company on sites such as Glassdoor, and use them to inform your questions.
4. Practice your pitch in a mock interview
In a virtual hiring fair, you may only get a few minutes to talk to a hiring manager, so you need to make them count. Rather than practicing your elevator pitch in the mirror, try an online mock video interview. These simulation exercises will give you an opportunity to practice your technique, overcome camera shyness, and receive feedback on your performance.
Just as you would in a real-life job interview, you’ll want to go into your mock exercise completely prepared. Before you press record, make sure that you:
- Research the opportunity
- Check your background and computer settings
- Know where to direct your eye contact
- Keep your notes close by
When the interview is complete, you should send the recording to trusted colleagues that can provide feedback on your performance.
There are multiple websites that allow you to practice your video interview skills, and you may already have easy access through your college. The Global Campus Career Services team, for example, allows students and alumni to practice their interview skills via My Career Powered By Symplicity.
For more information on career advice or networking opportunities, contact Career Services.
* Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus