How to Get the Most Out of Virtual Career Fairs

by Fatimah Williams Castro, PhD., Associate Director, Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Team.

Virtual career fairs are similar to traditional career fairs that take place in person, except they are held online. Employers attend career fairs to network with and actively recruit new hires. Job seekers have the opportunity to meet employers and briefly discuss the company, job opening, and job seeker’s profile.   Virtual career fairs are a great way to meet employers that might not otherwise travel to campus, and to do so in a low pressure environment without the long lines.

The Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Fellow Unit is excited to be participating in the Ph.D. & Master’s Virtual Career Fair, sponsored by the Graduate Career Consortium, on February 17, 2015.   More than 25 employers are gathering in one virtual place to meet job seeking Master’s and Ph.D.s.   You just need a computer with internet access and an updated resume to participate in a virtual career fair.  Once you register online, submit your updated resume in advance of the fair. Employers may review your materials and determine if there is a potential fit between your qualifications and their hiring needs.

Employers from a broad range of industries participate in virtual career fairs, and they seek job candidates at all career stages – not just master’s students and Ph.D.s. Here are a few other virtual career fairs that may be of interest to you:

Prepare for the Fair
You may be concerned that you will not be able to stand out or interact with employers because of the online format of this career fair. Most virtual career fairs host online chat forums where employers and job seekers can get to know each other.  There may also be a video conferencing function that will allow you to virtually meet employers face-to-face. These live, interactive communication functions give you access to employers from the comfort of your home or office. Just be sure to prepare your background, lighting and camera angles, and dress as you would for an in person career fair, if you decide to meet with employers via video chat.

Connect in Real Time
Do your homework by researching employers before the fair begins. Virtual career fairs will provide a list of participating employers along with a description of their job openings. Review company details and the job opening. This information will help you have meaningful interactions with employers when you meet in chat forums or via video conferencing, and when you follow up with employers of interest after the fair.

If you would like a career advisor to review your resume prior to posting online you may stop by for Walk Ins (15 minutes) or make an appointment (30 minutes) by calling 215-898-7531. You can also take a look at these resume samples from UPenn undergraduate, graduate students and postdoc alumni to help you get started on your resume.

In addition to these tips, expert career blog, Brazen Life, also offers “8 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections at Virtual Networking Events and Online Career Fairs.”

Follow Up
Just like any other career fair or information session with employers, be sure to follow through after the event is over: send thank you messages to recruiters, and continue to express your interest in those companies or firms you found to be a good match for your job search and career goals.