Tips for Attending Virtual Resource Fairs
The Tennessee Departments of Labor and Workforce Development and Human Services are here to help our state succeed. Our goal is to assist both employers and job seekers in finding the resources and connections they need to enhance our state’s economy and viability. Click a topic subject below to find the information you need to assist in your job search.
Attending a resource fair for the first time can be a little overwhelming; however, like many experiences, you will get as much out of the event as you put into it. The best way to ensure a successful fair and increased job prospects is to be prepared. In the case of a virtual resource fair that means:
Exercising best practices for online interviews and resource fairs: Having a professional on-camera dress, choosing a good setting with minimal noise and making sure your network connected device is interview ready are all important best practices for conducting online interviews and speaking with employers and support organizations through a virtual portal. Click Here for additional tips for online interviews.
Having thoughtful questions pre-prepared: Having a few questions prepared for potential employers and support organizations will not only help start conversations, but will also let employers and support organizations know you’re engaged and serious about your career goals.
Having a polished resume or seeking the resources to enhance your resume: Virtual resource fairs are a great place to share your resume or get help developing your resume. Your resume should highlight your skills and accomplishments and be error-free, concise and graphically pleasing. PDFs are a good file type for sharing digital resumes as there is less risk of formatting shifts between users’ platforms. To prepare for the virtual resource fair, have the best draft of your resume prepared for review or submission. If you need help getting started with your resume, Click Here to register to use the Jobs4TN.gov resume builder tool.
Setting goals for your resource fair: Goals may include landing an interview, connecting with job trainers, getting the information needed to continue education/training, improving interview skills, discovering the next steps in your career development path. Deciding what you’d like to achieve through a virtual resource fair is a great way to help focus your energy. Note: Most recruiters are not authorized to hire candidates on the day of the fair. Have your “elevator pitch” ready. Named for the time it takes to ride an elevator a short distance, your “elevator pitch” is a brief verbal synopsis of who you are as a job candidate. In 30 to 60 seconds, you should be able to clearly articulate your previous experience as an employee or student, and share what your career goals/intentions. Developing your pitch means mapping what you can say in a brief period to make recruiters, employers and support organizations want to explore hiring or assisting you. You are an investment for them. Learning to sell yourself by creating and practicing an elevator pitch can go a long way in helping you on your career journey. Employers’ goal are to be exposed to as many job candidates as possible, therefore having an elevator pitch helps maximize their time.
Target Your Top Companies/Organizations: Considering what industries and organizations you are interested in as an employee is also great way to be prepared for a virtual resource fair. This will help you decide which organizations to spend time with during the virtual resource fair. Listing and researching the organizations in which you are most interested will also help focus your efforts and guide your registration process.
A virtual resource fair is similar to an in-person resource fair in the fact that candidates who prepare and focus on having positive professional social interactions are usually more successful. Here are a few tips for having a successful fair:
Use the Right Equipment Properly: Virtual environments have their own challenges. Here are some tips for selecting and using network connected devices for interviews and virtual resource fairs:
- Exit other applications that play audio and video during the interview as they could interfere and cause distractions.
- If possible, sign into the online conferencing platform the day before the interview or resource fair to ensure your device meets systems requirements
- If possible, sign onto the meeting platform at least 15 minutes early the day of the interview or virtual resource fair to take needed steps to access the interview.
- Make sure your network and network connected device meet the necessary requirements (camera, microphone, connection functions)
- Ensure you are in a well-lit, (avoid background light) quiet space to ensure your video is clear and uninterrupted.
- Make sure you have a strong network connection. Networks work best when you are close to the WIFI access point or hard-wired to the modem (the goal is to minimize opportunities with internet interruption).
Introduce Yourself, Smile, Speak Clearly and Give your Full Attention: In many ways, a resource fair or job interview is a test of your social skills. While employers are almost always friendly, professional and outgoing, they'll expect the same of you. If you haven't done much ice breaking before, practice in advance with a career counselor or friend. Here are few parts to a focused interaction:
- Introduction: Introduce yourself, offer a smile and, if you have not done so, share your resume.
- Objective: Tell the employer why you are there and what sort of employment or related skills enhancements you are seeking.
- Summary: Briefly summarize your education, experience, strengths, etc.
- Listen: Listen to what the employer or support organization representative has to say and ask thoughtful questions.
- Give your full attention: It’s easy to become distracted or tempted to multitask during an online interview. However, if your attention is split between other applications, games or outside distractions, the employer or resource contact may notice, and feel you are uninterested in the opportunities they are offering.
- Closing: Reiterate your interest and thank the employer, and, if you have not done so, exchange contact information.
Dress Appropriately: Although virtual resource fairs differ from in-person fairs in that participants have limited visual access to one another, in most cases, it’s still important to dress appropriate for the job so that you have a professional presentation on screen. When in doubt, overdress.
Ask Intelligent Questions: If you've studied up on the organizations, you'll probably have some questions you'd like to ask. Not only will you get some answers, but you'll also show yourself to be someone who does his research.
Ask one or two meaningful questions without monopolizing the employer’s time. However, questions on salary should be reserved for later.
Network with Everyone: View other job seekers as valuable networking contacts, not as competition whenever you have the opportunity to meet other job seekers.
Focus on What You Can Offer: You'll be a refreshing change to most company representatives if you tell them what you can do for them and their organization instead of asking what they can do for you. Remember, you are an investment.
Leave Your Resume and Share Contact Information with Each Representative: Make sure that each potential employer or organization has access to your resume. Also collect their information so that you can follow-up following the resources fair.
Take Notes: After the fair concludes, jot down notes about conversations you had with company representatives. If you wait too long, the conversations will start running together in your memory, and you'll forget what you said to whom. It’s best to write down your thoughts on the fair as soon as possible.
Follow Up on Promises: If, for example, a company representative expressed interest in looking at your web site, make sure to email the URL like you said you would.
Send Thank-You Notes: Write or email each of the people you met and thank them for their time. Reiterate your interest in their company or their services and your relevant skills and experience. Most job seekers fail to take this simple step, often losing out in the end to those who did express their thanks. Remember when you attend a job fair: there will be few other times in your life when employers will make such a concerted bid to get your attention so when they participate in a nearby career fair, make the most of the opportunity to present yourself favorably, gather useful information and meet new contacts. Your small investment of time and effort -- before, during and after -- might very well turn into an opportunity you wouldn't have otherwise had.