7 Ways to Get Ahead at an Online Career Fair

By , May 12, 2014

An online job fair, like next week’s Think Beyond the Label Online Career Fair, is a great opportunity to meet prospective employers and develop your network of contacts. These connections can also help you acquire sound job search advice from seasoned recruiters, and increase your chances for a formal interview and/or job offer. Because job fair recruiters meet with a large number of candidates at an online event, it can take more than one contact with them to move yourself to the next phase of the recruiting process. Perseverance and professionalism can help you separate yourself from other candidates.

There are few times in your life when employers make such a deliberate effort to get your attention. So when they participate in an online 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 the event — might very well create an opportunity you might not have otherwise had.

There are a couple of key things you can do to make the most of your time at the career fair:

    Update and upload your resume. Develop your resume to highlight your most current accomplishments, skills, and experiences. Your resume should be error-free, concise and graphically pleasing. You might also want to target your resume content to a particular company or industry that you are interested in. This can help your resume stand out from the crowd.
    Be prepared with a few sentences about your skills and interests to share with recruiters during your chats. Talk about your interests in the field and your background as it relates to your current job search. Focus on what skills you bring to the table –instead of asking what they can do for you. For example, “Hello. I’m (your name), and I’m very interested in a position related to (x). I’ve got some great experience with (x, y and z).”
    Prepare a list of questions in advance. Some useful questions might be:

      What skills and abilities are most valued in your company?
      What is the corporate culture like?
      Do you hire summer interns?
      What advice do you have for me as someone interested in this career field?

    What is the best way for me to follow up with you about open positions with your company?
    Keep an open mind. While you may have had specific employers on your list to speak with, if you have extra time or are waiting in line to speak with an employer, take advantage of the opportunity to chat with others. It will give you an opportunity to hone your online networking skills and you might even discover a new opportunity!
    Remember to be grateful and thank the recruiter as you close your chat.
    Don’t forget to leave a note for the recruiter as another opportunity to thank them for their time, remind them of your contact information, reiterate your interest in their company, and remind them of your relevant skills and experience.
    If you were instructed to apply online or visit the company’s online application system, be sure to do so!

      In my next blog, I’ll focus on follow-up strategies to maximize the contacts you make at online networking events and turn those new job leads into employment opportunities.

      Author: Joe Entwisle

      Joe Entwisle is a policy analyst for Health & Disability Advocates in the areas of healthcare, employment and work incentives. He has worked as a policy analyst for the state of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin and several private businesses. As an individual with a disability, Joe shares the unique insights of the public and private systems he works with. He also starred in one of Think Beyond the Label’s national T.V. ads in 2010, appearing as a potential job candidate with a disability.