Tips for a Smooth-Sailing Virtual Career Fair
The Office of Career Exploration and Success (CES) at Rutgers–New Brunswick views the health and safety of our students and employer partners as a top priority. All recruiting services and programming will be offered virtually in the fall semester. This includes the creation of a new series of virtual career fairs segmented by the types of recruiting opportunities and functions of each role. Below are some tips on navigating a virtual fair experience.
Handshake’s Virtual Career Fairs Can Help You
Preparing for a Virtual Career and Internship Fair
Before the Virtual Fair
- Update your Handshake profile: The first step in preparing for virtual fairs is to make sure your Handshake profile is complete and up-to-date. Also, your account MUST be public to participate in any session.
- Find out which employers are attending: View the virtual fair details page to see the full list of employers who are hosting sessions.
- Research the employers you'll meet: When you sign up to attend an employer’s virtual fair session, research beyond their Handshake profile.
- Prepare a few talking points: The employers that you meet with want to learn more about you! So think of an “elevator pitch” about yourself—a short overview about your background, studies, and career goals.
Day of the Virtual Fair
- Check your internet connection: Ensure your connection is stable and if possible, use wired instead of wireless connection.
- Device: Don't use your mobile device to join, but a reliable computer so you don't get a call or text interruptions.
- Dress professionally: Dressing up a bit will make a good first impression with recruiters and employees.
- Find a quiet spot and a neutral background: Plan where you will be sitting during the event ahead of time—make sure it’s quiet and there is a plain background behind you.
During your Virtual Fair
- Arrive on time: Being on time shows the recruiter or employee ambassador that you’re dependable and respectful of their time as well.
- Maintain eye contact and practice active listening: Consider smiling and nodding occasionally as you would during an in-person conversation.
- Ask questions: Bring a list of prepared questions for each session.
Day after the Virtual Fair
- View and apply to open jobs or internships: Keep the momentum going from your meetings with employers. Check out their page on Handshake and their website to see current jobs and internships.
Attending a Virtual Career Fair on Handshake
Virtual Fair on Handshake
Employers are able to host two types of sessions to interact with students:
- Group Sessions:
- 30 minutes each
- multiple students can attend
- 1:1 Sessions:
- 10 minutes each
- one student and one employer representative can attend
Identifying a Virtual Fair
- You can click on All Filters, then click on Only posted by my school to narrow down the displayed list of fairs.
- If you see a fair or event you'd like to save to review later, click the bookmark icon to the far right of the fair name to save it. You can use the Saved filter on this page to locate saved events and fairs.
Participating in the Fair
- As long as you're signed up for the session successfully, you'll be able to launch video at any point after the session has started.
Staff Tips to Navigate a Virtual Career and Internship Fair
Make sure you are near a secure internet connection!
– Barbara Zito
Sign up for group and 1:1 sessions with employers of interest as soon as the career fair event is posted in Handshake.
– Barbara Thomson
Ask for next steps and contact information. While chatting with recruiters, don't hesitate to offer to send your resume or ask for next steps in the process.
– Michelle St.George
Have your profile setting in Handshake set to "Community" that way your profile will be visible to employers and will allow you to participate in our virtual career fair series.
– Lisa Goddard
Update Your Resume. Research Companies. Prepare Your Introduction. Dress Appropriately. Test Your Internet and Video Connections. Keep Organized. Send Thank You Notes.
– MaryBeth Kimberlin
I would recommend researching in advance the participating organizations so that you will know who you would like to meet with and will have some basic knowledge of their organization and potential questions to ask.
– David Bills
Sign up for as many group and one-on-one sessions as possible with employers that interest you. Research employers prior to the fair and apply for open positions on the employers website prior to the fair.
– Joe Scott
Register early and sign up for a session with employers before the date of the fair. On the day of the fair, dress for success, find a quiet virtual location, and make sure the lighting is good. And, be sure to drop by our virtual resume clinic prior to the fair to have your resume reviewed.
– Lyn Baier
Candidates rightfully focus on the 30-second pitch during their introduction, but don't forget about a strong closing statement that will reiterate your interest while reminding the employer why you are the best candidate for a follow-up interview.
– William Jones
Prioritize the organizations you're most interested in. You may find it easier to start with the employers in which you're less interested. This will allow you to gain more confidence when you approach the employers you're especially excited about.
– Paola Puerta Dominguez
Practice, practice, practice. Prepare an elevator pitch, memorize it, and practice saying it. Use your webcam to record yourself and critique the presentation, does the introduction flow nicely; does it sound like a conversation rather than a script? Do it again, and again, continue to record until you get it just right.
– Tamara Peters
Review the employers (and their available roles) on Handshake ahead of the fair. This way, you're familiar with what the employers are looking for and can speak directly to that role when you are networking at the fair! This strategy will show the employers that you are genuinely interested in them and help you stand out in a virtual crowd.
– Rania Plazas
1. Good idea to register for Group Sessions and 1:1 sessions at least a couple of days before the Rutgers virtual fair to secure your spot. 2. On the Virtual Fair Day, be ready to connect with employers on Rutgers Handshake a few minutes early before your scheduled time of 1:1 session (also Group Session) as you WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ATTEND THE SESSION if you don't sign up on time.
– Shalini Jain
Virtual career fairs have a similar process as traditional, in-person fairs. You can still research companies, recruiters, and positions available, and become more familiar with them. Polish up your resume and practice your pitch with CES Career Advisors. Craft a summary introducing yourself, your skills, and what you can bring to the company. Highlight your strengths and back them up with examples. The more you are passionate, honest, and true to yourself, the more you will be viewed as an excellent and unique candidate. And be sure you test your technology and internet speed. Let your positive attitude shine!
– Larry Jacobs
Prepare ahead of time. Just like you would for an in-person fair, take the time to review the list of registered employers, look up which jobs they are recruiting for on Handshake, research the organization, and jot down a few questions you may want to ask a recruiter if you have the opportunity to connect with them at the fair. You will feel less overwhelmed if you know which organizations you want to target.
Practice. The last thing you want is for an organization to bypass your candidacy because you were ill-prepared or did not present yourself in a professional manner. Take the time to practice interviewing through a virtual platform such as Interview Stream.
– Catarina Caulfield
Study the employer list of attendance at the fair and prioritize who do you want to target your efforts base on your interests. That will also help you to be focused on the day of the fair and not to be overwhelmed by so many organizations.
Research the companies that you want to target at the fair by knowing their mission, services, or products that they offer and tailor your elevator pitch to each one of them.
If the fair is in person, prepare a business card that reflects your personal information and three qualifications you possess in the field of interest. (I call it a mini resume.) See samples in our Career & Internship Planning Guide. If the fair is virtual, keep records of whom do you speak with to send them a thank you note and invitations to join your LinkedIn.
– Sylvia D. Cordero
Today's college students are comfortable navigating online environments, which is excellent, but given this online confidence, students do not want to approach a virtual career fair too casually! Prepare as you would for an an-person event...know yourself, your resume, and why you are there. Make sure your resume is polished and error-free. Rehearse your introduction ("Elevator Pitch") to recruiters if given the opportunity to converse. Be prepared -- know what companies will be represented, and positions they are offering. Do a bit of research on companies of interest, and prepare to share some of your transferable skills, work experience, and achievements. Make sure your environment is well set-up, with good lighting and free of distractions. As you would in person, thank recruiters for their time, ask when decisions might be made about hiring, get his/her contact information, and follow-up with a thank you e-mail.
– Scott Borden