Virtual career fairs are a great way for talent to engage with hiring managers while networking with other attendees. Depending on the event format, attendees may have the opportunity to watch a presentation from a hiring manager, sometimes ask questions during a live Q&A, and grow their network. Job searching is not a quick process and often takes from a few to several months so the connections you make along the way are the seeds you plant that grow into referrals later. Be prepared for each opportunity you have to plant those seeds.
Before the event…
Research the companies, their open jobs and the speaker(s).
- Make a note if the speaker (or an employee) is a 1st connection of yours on Linkedin. Review open jobs for what you want to apply to and don’t forget to look for open jobs that are above or below your level too because they can be a reason to ask to connect with recruiting so you are in their talent pipeline when that team opens a role that could work for you.
Write (and practice!) a short pitch of why you want to work for them and how you fit the job(s) you’re targeting.
- This is only a few sentences (2-4 max!). If you have the opportunity to ask a question you should use this pitch to tell them a little about yourself, the job you belong in and ask if they can help you with an introduction for the role so you don’t get lost in the application inbox. And YES this can be done in only a few sentences, we help our clients write these alot but it takes some work and a few versions to make it great.
Set up your space.
- Organize your pitch notes, any questions you prepared for the speaker(s), a drink, additional devices etc. Have something to make new notes with and have your links (email address, LinkedIn profile) open and ready for a copy/paste so you can share them quickly in the chats!
Share on LinkedIn that you are attending the event.
- If you post about the event, include any hashtags associated with it. Search for the event hashtag, check the host’s company page or speakers pages for posts to engage with…like, comment and/or share!
Check your LinkedIn profile.
- It’s ok if your resume has more detailed information but your LI profile should be accurate with your work history and skills at a minimum especially if you will be networking for jobs. It’s often best to update your resume and LinkedIn profile at the same time but if you’re in a time crunch then at least make sure your LI profile is accurate and current.
Be camera ready!
- It is best to have a source of light in-front of your face. Ring lights are great, but facing a window works too. Test your camera, microphone and your background.
During the event…
- Be obsessed with using mute and your camera on/off correctly!
- When your camera is on be aware of your face when you are not talking.
Be ready to comment.
- If you speak, ask them the best way to FOLLOW UP (email? LinkedIn?).
- Copy and paste your LinkedIn profile link in the chat(s) to connect with others (especially during the networking sessions!) and copy the links from other people so that you can connect with them after the event.
After the event...
FOLLOW UP. Help them help you.
- If you don’t get a reply within 5 business days (max!), message them again.
Make it easy for people to find you. Your name should be written the same way on your resume, LinkedIn and in your resume and cover letter pdf’s too!
- Ex: Jane Smith, JaneSmith_Resume2021
Use convenient, searchable subject lines in your emails or LinkedIn message.
- [YOUR NAME AS IT IS ON YOUR LI PROFILE, RESUME ETC] – [EVENT NAME] – [JOB POSTED]
- Jane Smith – ABC Event, Product Manager Referral
Add a 1-2 small paragraph mini-cover letter to the message.
- One of these paragraphs can be the pitch you prepared for the event or an extension of it which your contact can easily forward if they’re making a referral or introduction for you.
*For easy-to-use templates to help you create your pitch or mini-cover letter take a look at our blog post ‘6 Job Search Message Templates To Land Anything From An Introduction To An Interview’ – There’s a FREE pdf download there too!
Make the most of these events...
If you can’t attend the event live then register so that you’re on the email list to get the replay links and any updates. If you can’t find a job open that you’re ready to apply to you can still connect with the speaker or message them to connect referencing the event. Job search average is 1-3 months of activity and the connections you make can become the referral that gets you the interview in the near future.
We’ve hosted two events about this topic.