By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager
Career fairs can be nerve-wracking but well worth the effort if you’re prepared.
“Whether it's virtual, or whether it's face to face, I think first and foremost is making sure that the little things are taken care of ahead of time,” said Andy Weyand, director of the career services office in the College of Business Administration at Kent State University.
Weyand joined The State of Business podcast this week to discuss the differences in a virtual career fair setting compared to in-person, as well as the value a productive career fair can have on a person’s career.
In a virtual setting, Weyand said it’s crucial to register with plenty of time ahead of the event and understand the technical expectations. If video is involved, find a room that is well lit and ideally quiet, with a strong Internet connection.
“And then after that it's just doing your homework,” he said. “And really getting a true sense of what recruiters will be attending the event and what opportunities those recruiters will be presenting. And of those opportunities, which of those are going to be a good match for you as a candidate.”
Online presence is part of anyone’s brand in today’s environment, but Weyand said that during virtual events this matters even more. In a face-to-face setting, candidates might hand a resume to a recruiter and chat for five minutes, getting a chance to make a strong first impression before being researched online. In a virtual setting, a recruiter could look up a candidate’s profile while talking and make judgments off of that.
“You want to make sure that on any of the career management tools that you may be using your profiles are going to tell your professional story,” he said. “Make sure those are up to date, because that will allow the recruiter to continue to learn about you.”
Additionally, the online element could make things awkward in unexpected ways, Weyand said. It might be a spotty connection despite best efforts otherwise, or rough audio, but preparing an elevator speech beforehand can go a long way in helping navigate any clumsy encounters. Weyand said if you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone else, practice what you would say to a recruiter in the mirror.
Although you might be wary of participating in a virtual career fair and prefer to wait until it’s safe to attend large in-person events, Weyand said these virtual experiences are opportunities not to be missed.
“I would strongly encourage participating in a virtual career fair because you will learn about the process,” he said. “You will learn about yourself and what how you could present better next time, or how you could connect an opportunity and your experience better the next time.”
On February 18th Kent State will hold its own virtual career fair, titled Accounting Meet & Greet: Summer Leadership Development programs for students looking for summer opportunities as well as current opening for internships and full-time positions.