With thousands of students attending the Virtual Career Fair, it can be intimidating and challenging. Confidence is the key to acing the Career Fairs and interviews. While the career fair in a virtual setting helps you save time and effort compared to attending an in person career fair, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Use the following tips to help you prepare and stand out at the Career Fair.
1. Get your Resume Ready
Use the resume template shared by Career Center- https://careercenter.tamu.edu/Documents/Resumes-Cover-Letters/all-resumes. A recruiter spends anywhere between 5- 30 seconds scanning your resume. Having a standard simple format makes it easier for the recruiter to scan through your resume. Once you have your resume formatted you can upload it to Vmock, our automated resume platform for instant feedback. Need more help? Use our step by step guide to build your resume.
2. Practice your Pitch
With time restriction being imposed on the meetings with companies, make sure you have revised and practiced your 30 second elevator pitch. A good elevator pitch should have content that interests the recruiter but does not give away too much information due to the time limit. You can watch our video which will help you in developing a compelling elevator pitch. To be confident at the career fair, first try out your elevator pitch to 2-3 smaller companies before you approach the important ones. This will help you get your confidence up.
3. Register ahead of time
Since the virtual career fair is new to all of us, it is advised to register ahead of time to avoid any last-minute hiccups. It is also necessary that you familiarize yourself with the platform by navigating through the virtual career platform prior to the fair. Browse through the list of career fairs on the HireAggies (Symplicity) platform.
4. Research the companies
Read information about the company that you are interested in through their website- Find out the products/services offered by the company, the clients they serve, the office locations and the projects they carry out.
Read any recent news articles related to the company. Browse through their social media to find interesting nuggets of information
Pay attention to the mission and vision statement of the company, which will reveal the company’s service/business philosophy and perhaps information about the organization’s goals or planned projects/expansion.
Check out the company’s annual report which entails all the projects, profits, and progress for that particular year.
Make notes of information that you find will be to help you prepare for conversations you will have with recruiters at the job fair or interviews. If the content of your discussion with a recruiter reveals to him/her that you have done your homework and possess a working knowledge of the organization, he/she will be more likely to treat you as a worthy applicant.
5. Dress for success
Although it is a virtual career fair, make a professional first impression by dressing up professionally and appropriately- Find out what the dress requirements are for the career fairs you are attending and also research to understand the expectations for the employers you will be talking to at the fair. If you will be interacting with employers who have a very informal culture with their employers wearing casual attire to work then you don’t need to wear a suit, but a button down shirt/ a formal blouse is still recommended.
The most you can dress down in a career fair would be a business casual. Most importantly, do not get casual since the fair is virtual and make sure to dress appropriately from head to toe just in case you need to stand up in the middle of a conversation due to an emergency. Wear subtle make-up and avoid anything flashy. Learn more about dressing for success here.
6. Prioritize companies
Juggling between online/in-person classes and career fairs can be time consuming. Under-estimating the duration of your time with each company or the time that you will attend the career fair can hamper the number of companies you can approach for a job/internship. Of the list of companies attending the Career Fair, prioritize the ones that you are most interested in and attend the rest in chronological order as time permits and try getting early in line to have shorter wait times. However, if the company you are interested in has a long wait time, you might want to squeeze in a few smaller firms with shorter wait time so that you can talk to more companies. The list of employers participating in the fairs can be found on the career fair websites ahead of time.
7. Prepare questions to ask
Recruiters usually always end or start with “Questions for me”. Prepare a few interesting questions to ask the companies that will not only answer your question but also showcase your knowledge of the company. Refrain from asking basic questions about the company which you can find on the internet. The biggest turnoff for an employer is when a student asks “So tell me about your company”. Use your research to develop questions based on your existing knowledge of the company. For example, you can ask “I read on the news that you are launching a new product xxxx in the next month, how do you see this product evolving in the future or how is your team involved in this product”.
8. Attend company information & virtual events outside career fair
Attend events that’ll help you know more about the companies, the jobs they are offering, the current vacancies etc so that you will have some topics to discuss with them during the fair and after the fair. Continue to attend information sessions by employers even after the fair. Find upcoming employer events under events>information sessions on the HireAggies portal.
9. Sit fully prepared for the fair
A virtual career fair can still be exhausting! Make sure you have all the necessary items with you- a book, pen, water, charger etc. This will ensure that your career fair participation is uninterrupted. Keep some snacks handy so you can recharge your batteries and stay energetic throughout the fair. Make sure you have tested your technology ahead of time and have a headset/mic/earphones to help with better better audio quality. You can do a test run with your friends or family to ensure you have a strong and reliable wifi in your location. Ensure that your surroundings that will be visible in video are neat and organized. If the meeting is in Zoom or Teams you can use a professional virtual background. You can install the desktop applications for Zoom and Teams in advance to practice since most employers will be using either one of these platforms.
10. Make notes
Make notes after you are done conversing with each company before you approach another. This will help you in remembering the conversation and important points to address when following up with the companies after the career fair. Make notes of any action items such as applying for positions and their deadlines.
11. Join company group chat
To engage the students waiting in the queue, most companies have a group chat. Join the group chat as it has information that the company representatives want to share, any positions that you can apply to and/ or email contact of the representatives from the company.
12. Follow-up with the companies after the career fair
Follow up with the companies you met at the career fair. Remind them where you met, what you discussed, and the position that would suit you. Following up after the Career fair shows the companies how interested you are in working with their organization.
Hope these tips help you make the most out of the career fair. Tough times don't last, tough people do. Have a great virtual career fair, Good Luck!
Written by Trishla Jain, Graduate Assistant for Graduate Engineering students, Texas A&M Career Center.