Are you hiring or seeking your next opportunity? On Thursday, 14 October, IABC will host a virtual career fair. This event connects job seekers and employers from the comfort of their home or office via desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Job seekers can sign up here to attend, and employers can sign up to exhibit. If you’re a job seeker, review these 10 tips to make the most of your virtual career fair experience.
If the past 18 months have shown us anything, it’s our tremendous capacity to pivot. We work differently, we shop differently, we connect with friends and colleagues differently, and now we meet with potential employers differently. Enter the online career fair — the digital shopping mall for jobs. What makes it different is also what makes it great. No longer must you stand in line in a stuffy conference room to wait your turn to be interviewed. Now, you might still wait, but chances are you’ll have a comfortable seat.
Your goal is to present in a certain way at the career fair — professional, knowledgeable, reliable — and to be remembered for your positive qualities. This may seem like a challenging task when each participant is relegated to a small square where they only appear from the shoulders up. Although the format serves to standardize each candidate, there are some things you can do to stand out and make yourself memorable.
1. Remember you are talking to people — people just like you, only they work where you want to work.
Think of something positive and look that person in the eye when you speak with them. And by eye, I mean look them in the camera. While you may experience interview jitters, remember there’s a person on the other side of that screen, one who’s seeking a trustworthy, reliable future teammate. And that person could be you.
2. Set your work station up to maximize your presence.
This means positioning your device at the correct angle so you can look straight into the camera. Address your lighting situation. (For example, avoid using a ring light if you wear glasses, as the reflection in your lenses can be very distracting). Declutter your background and — I cannot emphasize this enough — wear a headset with a microphone. You can never guarantee the quality of sound on the other end, so make sure yours is optimized. By controlling this element, you eliminate one of the leading factors that contributes to disconnection.
3. Make this moment a priority.
Nothing says “I have other things to take care of” like email notifications going off or your phone ringing. Let the people around you know that you are not available during the the career fair and that you are not to be disturbed. Put a sign on the door if you have to, and let your phone go to voicemail. Let the Amazon delivery driver wait.
4. Dress your whole self.
I know we can get away with business on the top and casual from the waist down right now, but your mind knows when you have not set yourself up for success. Put on the full professional outfit and plant your feet firmly on the floor to ground yourself when you are meeting with a potential employer.
5. Do you have a personal elevator speech?
You need one. Think of the five words that best describe you and your work style. Some good options include professional, reliable, creative, independent or ethical. Use positive “I am” statements, and put them some place where you will be reminded of them.
6. Don’t stress about the questions.
You already know most of the answers since you will be talking about yourself. Be honest if you are unclear about anything. Remember that humor is a moveable target — avoid it in this setting.
7. Are you too humble?
This is not the arena in which to be quiet about your accomplishments. If self-promotion is a struggle for you, consider what your best friend or staunchest supporter would say about you, then repeat those statements. Do you know what your professional bio says? If not, write one or have someone write it for you and include all those “best friend” comments.
8. Leave behind clear, concise materials that represent you when you leave the digital meeting room.
Is your resume easy to read, sharply documenting your professional achievements? This does not mean reducing the font size and the margins to cram in every adjective you possibly can. This means getting to the core of what needs to be said about you — make it straightforward and memorable. Be clear about timelines. Eliminate unnecessary work experience and learn how to encapsulate details succinctly. Remember to lay it all out, allowing for white space so your statements can breathe and reviewers can easily read it and recall the highlights.
9. Consider the sectors you are speaking to and understand the priorities of each.
What does each employer sell or promote? Are you applying to work in a post-secondary environment? Chances are your educational credentials will be important. Marketing? Creativity within an objective field is likely a priority. Everything is an exchange, and you will be best prepared if you know what the company needs before you present yourself as the solution.
10. Show some gratitude.
Thank people for their time and attention. Job fairs take a lot of energy and commitment, and employers will likely be drained by the end of it. Let them know you appreciate them and what they do.
Bonus Tip: Show up as your whole self.
What makes you love the things you do when you get to choose what you do? These are the things that make you uniquely you and make you stand out from the crowd. Don’t compartmentalize your professional self from your free-time self. Be whole, be authentic and be remembered.
Debra Jacklin is a marketing and talent acquisition professional working in the post-secondary sector in Nanaimo, British Columbia. She has over 15 years of experience using corporate marketing and employment branding to connect people with the right opportunities. She also has won some awards and had some great experiences along the way. An IABC member from the beginning of her career, Jacklin is a staunch supporter of lifelong learning and servant leadership. You can find Jacklin at linkedin.com/in/debrajacklin.